Sabbatical time is crucial for faculty members. Much more than an opportunity to rest and to travel, both of which are important in themselves, it is a time for reflecting, writing, and brushing up on skills that are useful for teaching, preaching, and assisting in the governance of the seminary. We step away to gain perspective, to examine pressing issues (both those within our academic disciplines and those facing the Church in our time), to think more deeply about our long-range goals, and to listen for God's direction in a way that is sometimes not as easy in the press of everyday deadlines and commitments.
I am deeply grateful to have had a sabbatical this past spring which allowed me to do a number of things. One of the most important areas of renewed learning for me personally was the gift of five weeks of intensive language study: two weeks of intensive French review in Brussels; two weeks of intensive German review in Vienna, and another week of intensive Spanish review in Panama City, all of which was made possible by a generous grant from the Conant Foundation.
Sabbatical time also enabled me to accept some speaking invitations that would have been challenging during a semester of teaching full time and other academic duties. This past spring and summer, I was one of six keynote speakers at a conference on the intersection of theology and history in exegesis at Durham University, where my topic was "Anti-Judaism in the New Testament?: Judas Iscariot as a test case"; I accepted an invitation from theological graduate students at Princeton University to give a lecture and led a seminar on "Barth's theological exegesis in his second commentary on the Letter to the Romans"; and it was my great privilege to lead a conference for Virginia Theological Seminary alumni/ae in Mississippi on "Preaching difficult biblical texts."
I am once again happily at work on Hebrews and also completing a number of other writing projects that are coming due this fall. The opportunity to do focused and uninterrupted work on things I care about deeply is priceless. At the same time, I am excited to return to full-time teaching this fall and look forward to meeting members of the entering class as well as renewing friendships already in place.
The Rev. A. Katherine Grieb, Ph.D. Meade Professor of Biblical Interpretation and New Testament