Mark Futato is Robert L. Maclellan Professor of Old Testament at RTS Orlando. He has taught Old Testament and Hebrew courses at RTS since 1999, and he is one several professors who have built RTS Orlando’s excellent reputation for instruction in biblical languages. In this installment of “Getting to Know the RTS Orlando Faculty,” Dr. Futato shares about his background and his research interests in the Psalms and biblical poetry.
(For an introduction to the series, see here.)
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Raised in a Christian home, I went through a fairly rebellious phase in the late 60s and early 70s, before coming to true faith in my last semester in high school. God immediately gave me a passion for the Old Testament, so I became a Bible major at Geneva College. It was at Geneva that I fell in love with Hebrew, under the tutelage of Willem VanGemeren, and with Adele Hammerlee, whom I married the summer before our senior year at Geneva. After Geneva it was off to Westminster theological seminary in Philadelphia for my theological training and then to The Catholic University of America for my doctoral studies in Hebrew and Semitic languages. The next stop was ordination and serving as a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (first two sons born in Washington DC), before accepting a call to teach Hebrew and Old Testament at Westminster in California (third son and first daughter born in Escondido California). Eleven years later, we packed up the house and moved to Oviedo, Florida, where I have enjoyed teaching for the last 20 years.
2. You’ve written and contributed to several works on the Psalms. What has led you to focus your research and writing on the poetry of the Old Testament?
It seems like I have always loved the Psalms, and one of my goals in going to grad school was to be able to read the Psalms in Hebrew. My love for the geography of Israel, which developed at Geneva College, was enhanced in grad school as I focused on geographical imagery in the book of Psalms. So research and writing in the Psalms is deeply rooted in my academic career.
3. How has this writing and research influenced your Christian life?
It’s funny how in God’s shining providence books that I have written have not only come out of my academic research but also my personal experience at the time of writing. Hands down, my spiritual experience in life has been influenced more by the book of Psalms than any other book of the Bible.
4. How have your past leadership roles in the church and in your denomination influenced your teaching, both inside and outside the classroom?
My writing has influenced my teaching inside the classroom directly, as a couple of my books are used routinely as textbooks. If I had a record of all of the pulpit supply that I have done over the years as well as all the weekend Bible conferences I have taught, no doubt I have spent more time teaching and preaching from the book of Psalms than any other book of the Bible.
5. What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently in the final stages of a book that will introduce students to the Hebrew accent system and how reading with the accents in mind makes a difference exegetically.