An Interview with Dave Nelson – New Acquisitions Editor for Brazos Press and Baker Academic

We are very excited to have David Nelson joining our team as Acquisitions Editor for Brazos Press and Baker Academic. Dave comes to us from Birmingham, Alabama where he taught at the Department of Religion at Samford University for the past two years. He received a MDiv from Beeson Divinity School and a PhD from King’s College, University of Aberdeen.

To help introduce Dave Nelson to our Brazos Blog community, we asked him a few questions about his background and interests.

1. Tells us a bit about your background. Where do you come to Baker from? Where have you previously worked and studied?

Perhaps I can best frame my answer by first stating unabashedly that I’m a lifelong book nerd! My father is an avid reader and a lover of many types of literature, and without question he passed along his bookish genes to me. I grew up surrounded by thousands of books and remember with much fondness regularly accompanying my dad to bookstores and libraries. I studied history and English literature at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and, to no one’s astonishment, spent most of those years also serving as a sales clerk and warehouse manager at a Family Christian Stores branch. After UAB I pursued an MDiv at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, graduating in 2004. While at Beeson, I switched my bookstore allegiance and managed the seminary’s Cokesbury shop.

These past few years have been spent more in the library than in the bookstore, as I eked out a meager existence as a doctoral student. This past March I was awarded a PhD from King’s College, University of Aberdeen, for a dissertation, supervised by John Webster, on the sacramental theology of German theologian Eberhard Jüngel. From 2007 to 2008 I was a Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, where I served the Lutheran World Federation by performing various tasks in support of several international Lutheran ecumenical efforts. For most of the past two years I taught biblical studies and (briefly) theology in the Department of Religion at Samford University.

2. What drew you to this position and Baker Academic & Brazos Press?

Well, I am a lover of books—particularly academic books in the areas of theology, church history, and biblical studies. This position offered me an opportunity to get into the academic book industry from a different side of the process than what I experienced on the sales floor at FCS and Cokesbury. I’m excited about working with our great lineup of authors in bringing their ideas to press. Additionally, Baker Publishing Group has an unparalleled reputation around the academy of being an excellent place to work. I jumped at the opportunity to join the Baker Academic & Brazos Press team.

3. What are your theological interests, and who are some authors that have been influential for you?

Most of my research has been in the area of contemporary theology and its problems. I am especially interested in sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and their intersection. These are areas that many theologians from my own confessional family, Lutheranism, have struggled to coherently articulate. I also wish to someday explore more extensively the theological implications of the phenomenon of language—a theme that played a significant role in my doctoral research. Perhaps at some point in my “spare time” I can tackle such interests.

While I certainly love many of the magisterial theologians from centuries past (Irenaeus, Augustine, Maximus Confessor, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards are favorites that immediately come to mind), I spend much of my time these days reading theology that has surfaced in the past few decades. I have a deep appreciation for—and a few equally deep reservations with—Karl Barth’s theological program. Barth’s intellectual heirs, chiefly Robert Jenson, Eberhard Jüngel, and Wolfhart Pannenberg, loom very large in my thinking. Among more recent masters, Kevin Vanhoozer, David Bentley Hart, Paul Hinlicky, and my erstwhile Doktorvater, John Webster, are, to my mind, producing the most stimulating examples of robust dogmatic work rooted in the great tradition of Christian theology.

4. Tell us a little about specific projects that you are currently overseeing or would like to bring to the table in your role as Acquisitions Editor at Baker Academic & Brazos Press.

I’ll be hard at work for the foreseeable future on the remaining volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series. We have some very interesting authors lined up to complete the series. Additionally, I will do whatever I can to expand our line of strong titles in the areas of systematic theology, historical theology, theological interpretation of Scripture, and theological ethics.

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