Farewell Tyndale House

Today we leave Cambridge for home. Most of us said good-bye to everyone at Tyndale House yesterday; a couple of us are still trying to eke out a few more hours in the library. Needles to say, we are all eager to see our families again. The paradox of this trip is that it has been far too long to be away from our families but way too short to finish what wanted to get done here. Some of us were only warming up.

I’ll try to post some reflections on our experiences here in the next few days. In the meantime, I will say this: Now I know why Tyndale House gets mentioned in the acknowledgement of so many dissertations. The Tyndale House staff was not only professional, but they went out of their way to show us the love of Christ. They have been generous to us at so many different ways – not the least of which is with their time and expertise. Tea breaks with the community here has been engaging, and . . . (more later; I’ve got to quick look at a couple more books and pack.)

Left to right: Nathan Joshua (Kenya, Pastoral epistles, patronage, leadership), yours truly, Daniel Hankore (Ethiopia, translation, Gen. 34), Andy Alo (Congo, translation, metaphor), Nelson Makanda (Kenya, Paul, patronage, and the Galatians), Karita Mbagara (Kenya; Acts, the Holy Spirit, liminality, ethnicity), Peter Yuh (Cameroon, translation, Nehemia, honor and shame), Ramadan Chan (Sudan, translation; justice, Amos), Richard Mutura (Kenya; Paul, Galatians; exemplar), Phoebe Muthami (Kenya; Ephesians). See also NEGST PhD students at Tyndale.

NEGST students on BBC Network Africa this morning: updated

This morning my NEGST colleagues Andy Alo (Congo), Daniel Hankore (Ethiopia), Nelson Makanda (Kenya), Peter Yuh (Cameroon), and Ramadan Chan (Southern Sudan) were interviewed on BBC radio – Network Africa. They talked about ethnicity, a subject we have worked on for over a year. 

We were in London yesterday to visit the British Museum. Afterwards, these five stopped by the BBC studios to visit a friend of Peter’s when they were called into the studios for an interview.

We heard it on-line this morning, but the interview was replaced in the later editions (Network Africa is repeated hourly for several hours) by something on human rights. It was fun to know that their voices were being broadcast all over Africa.

A weekend away (NEGST PhD in England)

For those friends and family who are following our time at Tyndale House, we got a much needed break this weekend when a special couple invited all ten of us out to their large country home near Worcester. It was great time to be together in a beautiful and relaxed setting, to enjoy some sunshine, and to do things like take a walk in the woods. We spent a lot of time talking about challenges facing the church in Africa and the multi-faceted ways leadership can begin to address these challenges. We capped the weekend off with a panel discussion at Woodgreen Church in Worcester on some of these subjects.

Today (Tuesday), we are taking another break from the Tyndale House library to explore the ancient artifacts at the British Museum.

Here are a few photos from our weekend together.


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BNTC Arrival

This morning, Phoebe, Nelson, Nathan, Karita, Andy, Richard, and I crammed into a Vauxhall Zafira and made the four hour trip to Durham (The OT translation guys Ramadan, Peter, and Daniel stayed at Tyndale House). The Zafira has two two seats that fold out of the trunk, which means we can all fit, but there’s very little room for luggage. We’ll be holding any books we buy on our laps for the trip home. It was my first time driving in the UK, and we forgot left the map at home, but we managed to make here it in one piece. The hardest part was finding the college after we got to Durham.

In the opening reception speeches, they gave a special welcome to “six or seven” students from Nairobi. It was a really nice touch for us. (That seventh one is a problem; how do you categorize him?  A few people have assumed that I am faculty there. Why in the world would an American study in Nairobi? ;-).

There are a lot of American here. Nijay Gupta tells me that almost all the New Testament students in the UK are Americans.

It’s a lot of fun and pretty intimidating to be a first-timer here. As Nelson put it on the drive up, “we can now put faces with all those names we have only seen on the covers of books.” It was also great to our old professors Ronnie and Margaret Sim who came down from Scotland.

At dinner, I got to meet and sit with Michael Bird (profile), Nijay Gupta, and Jonathan Moo. It can only go downhill from here. I’ll say this much, Bird ought to start his own comedy show.

John Barclay gave his evening presentation ‘Two Versions of Grace: Romans 9-11 and the Wisdom of Solomon’ to a packed audience – at least least ten people had to sit on the floor.  That the questioning finally had to be cut off should tell you something of the quality of it. He stirred a lot of interest.

James Davila notes that Firefox hasn’t been working here; neither does the new Chrome which I have taken a liking to. So I’m back to old IE. 

I’d better get some sleep. (I’m only still up because I’m thinking of Christi’s six hour flight delay with the kids. They were scheduled to arrive at 9pm. They are now saying that it will arrive in in the next few minutes – 3 am.  :-(.

[Check out some interesting articles in the “Links of the Day” on the right.]

Daily routine at Tyndale House

[For friends and family] There’s not a whole lot to say here: Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, get on the bike, and ride down to the library (10 mins); Peter has been walking (45 mins). Sit at the desk, read, and write. All ten of us are in the “hexagon” part of the library – see the bottom right hand corner of this library map (pictures for each section in the upper left hand corner.)

Being here has given some of us Continue reading

NEGST PhD students

In a recent comment, Eddie asks for a list of names. Here is a list with – program, country, topic, and family (and my nickname for some them.)

Andy and Ramadan

Andy and Ramadan at work - Tyndale House

Ramadan Chan, Southern Sudan, translation. translating the concepts of justice and righteousness from the prophets – esp. Isaiah and Amos. Ramadan and Mary have four college-aged children, and many more dependents. Ramadan is our “respected patriarch” and a real Dinka giant and wise chief.

Andy Alo, translation, Congo, “Translating the metaphor of light into Lugbarati.” Andy and his wife Yvette have four boys and one girl (three kids of their own and two orphaned nephews) ages 8-12. Andy is “the philosopher.”

Karita and Daniel

Daniel Hankore: Ethiopia, translation, translating vows and Genesis 34. Daniel and Dero have four children. Erome just started college in Nebraska. (If any of you have warm clothes to send her way, she’d be grateful). The youngest, Tumo was born four days after Liam two years ago – and helped kick off the first round of PhD babies; with the second round we have seven PhD babies so far. Daniel is our “evangelical shepherd” – keeping us in line and making sure we stay evangelically orthodox.

Karita Mbagara: Kenya, biblical studies, the Holy Spirit and liminality in Luke-Acts (maybe some ethnicity too). Karita and Jacinta have three children; the oldest just graduated from university and is working in the marketing department at KPMG. (Karita is “the respected statesman” – a true leader in every way. He has worked for FOCUS (InterVarsity equivalent) and still does a lot of pastoring).

Nathan, Peter, and Daniel

Nathan Joshua: Kenya, biblical studies, patronage and leadership in the pastoral epistles. Nathan and his wife have one girl and two boys; his daughter is in college. Nathan is “the pastor.” In addition to being a professor, he has been a pastor in the Africa Inland Church for many, many years.

Peter Yuh: Cameroon, translation, translating concepts of Honor and Shame from Ezra-Nehemiah into Kom. Peter and Joy have four children. The oldest is in junior high, the youngest is two. Peter is “Mr. Honor” for obvious reasons.

Phoebe Muthami: Kenya, biblical studies, community identity formation and the “then-now” contrast in Ephesians. Phoebe and Dickson have three biological children along with the many other children they have raised. Their oldest David was married last Saturday in a wonderful, unique, standing-room only wedding. Phoebe is our “mother.” Phoebe and Dickson also pastor a church plant in one of Nairobi’s poorer slums. (See for example this heart-rending story from the period of post-election violence.)



Richard Mutura: Kenya, biblical studies, Paul as exemplar in Galatians. Richard and Helen have a nearly one-year old daughter (just a couple more days), Becky. Richard is our “fearless leader”; he was our designated leader for the first few years. Eventually he asked for a break, so now we rotate the “representative of the month”, but Richard still takes up the reigns when we need him. I can’t begin to tell you all he did to make sure we got our tickets and other things we needed. Look for Richard in the Kenyan Parliament five years from now. Richard is the kind of guy who will go the extra mile for you – a midnight rescue. To read about his jail experience from his more youthful days, see here.

Nelson and Andrew

Nelson and Andrew

Nelson Makanda: Kenya, biblical studies, patron-client relationships in Galatians. Nelson and Carol’s one-year old son Andrew turned ONE YEAR OLD yesterday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANDREW!! They also are raising Tracy, their five-year-old niece. Nelson is our “politician”; look for him in the Kenyan parliament after the next elections too. Someone asked Nelson today why they would go into politics in addition to teaching. Nelson’s response: “We need leaders who will transform Africa for Christ.”

Not with us are:


Jackie Othoro, Kenya, biblical studies, Esther and social drama. Jackie will be going to Wheaton, Ill. to do her outside library research. Jackie is a wonderful and active pastor, and we all miss her cheerful personality on this trip.

Samy Tioye, Burkina Faso, translation, already did his library work in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. He’s our “rabbi!”; where else could he go? Samy is working on translating the concept of eating blood from Leviticus into Lobiri. Samy and Fortuna (one of Christi’s very closest friends) have four children – Eliel, Menahem, Myria, and Ayelette. For one of Samy’s recent adventures, read locked up in a Kenyan jail.

I guess this blog makes me the “Chronicler.”

I’ve slaved in the trenches with these friends for over three years now, and I can say that they are the most incredible group of people I have ever worked with. A couple of years ago, we spent five weeks living together and trudging around Israel. We all got tired, and a few of us got sick, but never once did I see any conflict. On a daily basis, I get to see their commitment to God and their sacrifice to other people. I can’t tell you how much of a privilege it is to be able to share in their lives and call them my closest friends.

First day at Tyndale House

It felt a little like the first day of school today. The scholars and staff at Tyndale House were extremely welcoming and helpful. I took a ton of photos – almost 100. [Apologies for the detail; for the next little while, focus of posts will be towards friends and family who would like to follow this trip. Click on them to see them full size.]

Here was our day:

9 – walk about 40 minutes (7 of us) following Karita – who was our fearless leader with the map

10 – orientation with the wonderful Tyndale House Staff

11 – tea, coffee, and cake with everyone who is here (double gong means cake)

12:30 – Lunch at the Cambridge University Center cafeteria – a huge “Asante Sana” to Dr. Mrs. Sim. She also showed us quickly around the old city, so we got our first look at the famous “punting” on the river (pushing boats along with long poles.)

For most of the rest of the afternoon, some people started their research; many of us worked trying to get our computers on-line with the network here. (Dr. Instone-Brewer and Troy, a computer software programmer helping with some special projects here, gave up their entire afternoons for us.)

Bonus of the day: At the 4pm tea break. We met Daniel Wallace and found out that he was upstairs piecing together NT manuscripts and photographing them – very impressive. For details, see The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Quote of the day [after being wowed by all the incredible accomplishments of some of the wonderful people here]: “I bet they didn’t grow up getting pulled out of school all the time to watch the cattle or chase off the Maasai raiders. Some of us have come a long way and are happy to be here.” – (to remain nameless. 😉

Safe arrival and warm reception in Cambridge

This is for the folks at home following the lives of their loved ones. (Apologies for those of you with slow internet connections – the pictures. We finally have a decent connection. Wow, I click, and it immediately responds.)

The flight was uneventful with great views of the Arabian desert as we flew across Saudi Arabia right next to the Iraq border. Istanbul, Venice, the Dolomites, Interlaken, Zurich, and the Alps were beautiful.

Here, Ethan Sanders greets us in Kiswahili as we get off the bus. Ethan is a PhD student here studying East African history, and has done a lot to help us feel welcome here. Asante Sana, Ethan!!

Margaret Sim had a sumptuous dinner prepared for us at Williams’ house. [A huge thank you goes to them for opening their home to seven of us.] Margaret Sim has been a mother to many of us as well as former Greek Teacher and head of the biblical studies department at NEGST. She and her husband Ronnie Sim, who directed the PhD program through a critical period, recently moved back to their native Scotland. Margaret Sim made a special trip down here then extended her original travel plans to be here for us. She did a lot of work today to very generously make sure we were coming into a “home.”  We will never really be able to thank you for all you’ve done for us; we feel more cared for than you can possibly imagine.

Jeremy and Jan Peckham also have done so much for us in terms of arranging housing and other details for our arrival.

Tomorrow we get introduced to Tyndale House so we can begin work.