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Matthew Newkirk, Ph.D. 2013

Matthew Newkirk, Ph.D. 2013

Recipient of the Donald L. King Fellowship

President and Professor of Old Testament
Christ Bible Seminary, Nagoya, Japan

My dissertation was entitled, “Just Deceivers: An Investigation into the Motif and Theology of Deception in the Books of Samuel” (supervised by Dr. Daniel I. Block). In this study I first examine all the OT passages that comment explicitly on the ethics of deception and conclude that deception is only prohibited when it brings unjust harm or disadvantage to another person. Next I analyze all the episodes involving deception in the books of Samuel and attempt to discern how the writer portrays this phenomenon. Through a narratological analysis I conclude that the depictions of deception in Samuel cohere with the theology of deception detected in the explicit statements. That is, deception is depicted negatively when committed for unjust purposes, yet portrayed positively when committed for just purposes. Lastly, I seek to show how this approach to a biblical ethic of deception explains the variety of depictions of deception elsewhere in the canon.

I chose Wheaton because of its academic rigor, interdisciplinary structure, and missional mindset. Although my focus was Old Testament, I was able to interact extensively with both New Testament scholars and theologians and thereby be challenged and enriched as I engaged in my research. The cohort model provided a marvelous environment of camaraderie, and the diversity of seminars exposed me to a breadth of scholarship that has shaped and refined my own approach to Scriptural study. The careful oversight and pastoral encouragement of my supervisor, Dr. Block, was a special blessing, and the ecclesial focus of the doctoral community as a whole provided a rich training ground for me to grow as a scholar in the service of the church.