Dr. Lanier teaches Greek and New Testament courses at RTS, and is an Associate Pastor at a PCA church in Lake Mary.
(For an introduction to the series as a whole, see here.)
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in rural North Carolina and have known the great divorce of UNC vs. Duke since the earliest years of my life. I was raised in a Christian home by loving parents, who were both public school educators. I played sports but was, unsurprisingly, a bit of a nerd as well. I attended UNC and studied computer science (before it was cool) and business. Over the next seven years, I worked in a variety of corporate jobs (Atlanta, Birmingham, and Charlotte) and got married to Kate. After discerning a call into ministry, I attended RTS Charlotte and, subsequently, the University of Cambridge. Along the way I saw one of Scott Swain’s 9,488 tweets (as of this morning) that advertised an opening at RTSO. One thing led to another, and in 2015 we moved to Orlando, three kids in tow.
2. Your published works lately have focused on biblical canon and textual criticism. What led you to these topics?
There were a variety of factors. In terms of canon, I caught the bug as a layperson a decade ago during Sunday school classes taught by my (then) pastor, Mike Kruger (now President at RTS Charlotte). I then learned more regarding the NT-related issues while taking his classes at seminary. As I pursued my doctoral work, however, I began to cross the canonical boundary into OT-related issues through my studies of the Greek OT (commonly known as the Septuagint) and intertestamental Jewish literature. In terms of textual criticism, I tended to hang out with a handful of text critics at Cambridge, and I was blessed to be able to do some research on the second-oldest NT papyrus (housed at Oxford) for my doctoral work. I also developed some of the materials for the recent publications through seminars and Sunday school classes I taught in England and here in Orlando.
3. How has your writing and research influenced your Christian life?
In many respects, I’ve never really worried too much about segmenting myself into an “academic life” and a “Christian life” (any more than I can separate my “family life” from my “Christian life”). The nuts and bolts of the work itself is like any other job (planning, gathering resources, executing, meeting deadlines, etc.), and I try to do what I’d encourage any other layperson to do: namely, to conduct that work to the glory of God and, in a sense, worshipfully. But, of course, I’m also privileged that the specific content of this job is more overtly “Christian.” The upside of this is that most of the stuff I am blessed to work on – whether it’s researching the minutiae of a specific biblical manuscript and its scribe, or studying early Christology in the Gospels, or simply reading Scripture in the ancient languages – has a kind of devotionally-satisfying quality at least at some level. The downside is that my day-to-day research regularly brings my orthodox beliefs into the crosshairs of critical scholarship. No doubt that brings with it a kind of stress, but so far God has been faithful in sustaining me.
4. How has your role as a pastor influenced your teaching, both inside and outside the classroom?
I entered seminary with the goal of serving in the pastorate; the academic path only emerged about halfway into it. And, importantly, it was the generous giving of the people of God (not scholarship money) that played the decisive role in enabling me to pursue the academic path anyhow. Thus, throughout this process my wife and I have been convicted that I should do my best to have a foot in each world in a meaningful way. It’s been a blessing and a true privilege, then, to be able to serve full-time at RTS and part-time at River Oaks Church (serving with Rev. David Camera, who, providentially, discipled me a decade ago in Birmingham when I was newly married!). Being involved in the nuts and bolts of church life (late-night elder meetings, budget cycles, crisis management, funerals, baptisms, staff meetings, website overhauls – the whole nine yards) has, I hope, made my teaching more well-rounded and realistic. For instance, as a newbie my lectures on Matthew 18 had a very theoretical quality to them; now, having been in the trenches with fellow elders over thorny church discipline issues common to church life, they have a very different quality. I also find that my church role and seminary role nicely balance each other out. At RTS, I get to scratch the academic itches I have, say, about the Dead Sea Scrolls, while at ROC I get to struggle to figure out how to teach the Jael-stabbing-a-guy-with-a-tent-peg story (Judges 4) to the pre-kindergarten class. It keeps it fun!
5. What projects are you currently working on?
It’s been great to feel like my head is finally above water as a new faculty member, and the Lord has blessed me with a variety of interesting projects. My Septuagint partner-in-crime (Will Ross, RTS Charlotte) and I have a project called A Book-by-Book Guide to Septuagint Vocabulary coming out in a few weeks, and we’re also working on three other Septuagint-related books. Next year my introduction to early Christology will come out with Crossway (Is Jesus Truly God? How the Bible Teaches the Divinity of Christ). Similar to the recent canon book, it aims to harvest the most recent research on the NT roots of trinitarian Christology but make it digestible for laypersons and students. I’m working on a long-term project dealing with the primary texts that play a central role in the study of Jewish messianism and Christology, and I’m in the early innings of a commentary on Luke. In terms of shorter projects, one of my favorites at the moment is a text-criticism article I’m co-authoring with recent MDiv graduate Moses Han.