Michael Jensen has tagged me to contribute to his Best Teacher Meme. Here are five of the best:
1. Mr. Hamlet. He taught Classical Studies at Bassaleg Comprehensive School. I hated school and refused to engage with most subjects. When I asked my Geography teacher to give his consent for me to take the 'O Level' exam he quipped, "You must be joking." But Mr. Hamlet's passion for the classics gripped me. His board ruler became Odysseus' spear and Achilles' sword. This was the only subject for which I really bothered to swat, giving me my best exam result, a grade C 'O Level'.
2. Hywel Jones. He was Principal at the London Theological Seminary when I was there from 1988-1990. His theological expositions of Isaiah and John were breathtaking. They were models of exegetical clarity and theological depth, delivered with a heartfelt passion for the Gospel.
3. Andrew Davies taught Church History for the first year of my LTS course. Sometimes his lectures would catch fire. We would stop taking notes and sit in awe of the presence of God as Andrew spoke on "The Moravian Revival" or "Word and Spirit in Puritanism". I remember him concluding his lecture on the latter with the words, "Sue him for it. Sue God for the witness of the Spirit!" Once Andrew rebuked some students for not taking their studies seriously enough. In his deep Welsh tones he told them, "We are not funny men trying to be serious, but serious men who know how to laugh." That told them.
4. Robert Oliver took over the Church History course after Andrew left. He is quite different to Andrew Davies, a studious Englishman rather than a fiery Welshman. But I really appreciated his lectures. They were impecabbly researched, well presented and full of contemporary relevance. His feedback on essay assignments was always helpful and his advice on sermon construction and preaching was worth listening to. Robert helped to enhance my love of Church history. He chairs our local Wiltshire minister's fraternal. (See here for my review of his The History of English Calvinistic Baptists).
5. Philip Eveson is now the Principal at LTS, but in my day he was Resident Tutor. His lectures on the Old Testament were especially helpful. He has rare exegetical skills and always seems to be up-to-date with the latest trends in biblical scholarship. For me the highlights were his lectures on Job, Ecclesiastes and Amos. He really should write a commentary on Ecclesiastes. Eveson's insight that "vanity" means "fleeting" rather than "meaningless" (NIV) really opens up the message of the book. Quoheleth is much more than a "pre-evangelistic tract". The book gives us the wisdom we need to enjoy life under the sun to the glory of God. It was in his lectures on Galatians that I was first alerted to the new perspective on Paul. Eveson grasped the importance of the NPP way before most other Reformed theologians. He wrote an early critique of the new perspective, The Great Exchange which is now available online. Philip acted as my tutor when I did a theology degree a few years ago. His advice and reading suggestions were invaluble.