Dr. Chuck Hill serves at RTS Orlando as John R. Richardson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity.
He joined the RTS faculty in 1994, and teaches core courses in Greek and New Testament, as well as electives in advanced exegesis and New Testament canon. He is a prolific writer, and has authored and edited several volumes on topics such as the gospels, the early church, and Biblical canon. An accomplished fine artist, you can view some of Dr. Hill’s work on campus, right outside the Fellowship Hall.
You can read the introduction to this series on the RTS Orlando faculty here.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a small, rural Nebraska town and was privileged to come to faith at an early age. My first degree is in Fine Arts from the University of Nebraska. I then moved to California to attend Westminster Seminary and before graduating had the great good providence to marry someone far beyond my station. We went to Cambridge for a Ph.D. and came home with that and a baby (our own). My first teaching job was at Northwestern College in Iowa, where I taught from 1989-94 and was ordained in the RCA. Since 1994 they have let me teach at RTS Orlando, and my ordination is now in the PCA. My wife and I are blessed with three children and, so far, five grandchildren (again, all our own). I am now much older.
2. Much of your research and writing is on the New Testament canon and the early church fathers. What led you to these topics?
I think I was originally driven to read the church fathers after I noticed that a lot of different Christian (and anti-Christian) groups seemed to make fairly grandiose claims about what happened in the early church, always in support of their own peculiar ideas. I began reading the Apostolic Fathers, Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, etc., for myself and quickly got hooked. As to the canon, while teaching at Northwestern College I was asked to review a book on the Muratorian Fragment, an early canon list. I didn’t know much about the canon at that time, but had learned enough about the early church to know that the author of the book was also making some pretty grandiose claims in support of his peculiar ideas. So, I started to read more about the canon, and again, I got hooked. At about that time (the early 90s) it was becoming apparent to me that issues of canon and text were being perceived by a lot of people as weak spots for the church, and that these weak spots were likely to be exploited in the years to come. This ability to see the future only happened that once, and did not work when applied to the stock exchange. It has also been my happy lot to teach students at RTS about the NT canon and textual criticism for 26 years.
3. How has your work as a New Testament scholar influenced your Christian life?
I think it has enriched my Christian life in many ways, for personal understanding and application of Scripture and for my toughest gig, raising a family. To engage in scholarship, for me, is a privilege and a calling. It has helped me to understand the way others think about the NT and Christianity, and while this often poses great challenges, overall it has only deepened and broadened my understanding and my confidence in God and in his word.
4. How has your writing and research influenced your teaching, both inside and outside the classroom?
Well, it certainly has helped me out for some of those out-of-the-blue, embarrassingly simple questions students (or your kids) routinely ask that expose the professor’s ignorance. I said some, not all. But seriously, it has enriched my teaching in more ways than I could ever count. I only hope that my having gone further into a subject, whether it be Irenaeus’s exegesis of eschatological texts, or the significance of the little arrows in the margins of some ancient manuscripts, etc., will help students to be able to go that much further into a subject as well.
5. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m writing a book called The First Chapters, about the first chapter divisions made by scribes in Biblical manuscripts to aid reading and interpretation. I’m also writing a chapter on the four Gospels in a new book on the New Testament canon. And soon, Lord willing, I’ll be trying to finish a book on the composition of the Gospel according to John.