Story Magazine - Third Quarter, 2003

NEW FACULTY: Rolf Jacobson

Rolf Jacobson's goal is to help students develop the skills and intellectual habits that will help them interpret biblical texts for themselves.

"We cannot teach future ministers everything they will need to know about ministry in their years at seminary," he says. "What we can do is teach them how they can continue to learn once they've completed their course work."

Jacobson emphasizes that the purpose of a biblical text is not just for preaching or teaching, although these are important functions. But, he says, a text can also be used in pastoral care or as a vehicle for personal spiritual growth. In addition, it can also function as a catalyst for change and growth within a congregation.

Before coming to Luther, Jacobson taught religion at Augsburg College. "I came to the seminary out of a sense of call," he says. "I wanted to have a more direct connection with the church's mission, as both a teacher and a writer."

In his writing, Jacobson deals with the Old Testament's reflections on theology and ethics as well as its psalms and poetry. He writes for pastors, lay people and teaching theologians, and he strives to "bring biblical scholarship to bear on the mission of the church."

Ordained in 1991, Jacobson served for five years as associate pastor of Como Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul before continuing his education at Princeton Theological Seminary. "There is no disjunction between teaching and being a pastor," he says. "I'm still a pastor, just in a different context."

Although his courses focus on the Old Testament, Jacobson emphasizes that he teaches people not texts: "I love bringing the Bible to the men and women in my classes and helping them learn to break open the word."