RBC Spotlight: Dr. Ben Shaw, Professor of Old Testament
Posted On October 27, 2020
Dr. Ben Shaw is professor of Old Testament. He is also a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. He earned his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. from Bob Jones University. He previously served as academic dean and professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
We recently asked Dr. Shaw about his faith, life, and studies at RBC.
When and how did you come to faith in Christ?
I came to faith in Christ through the influence of friends and family.
What is your favorite book of the Bible?
Ecclesiastes. I recently wrote a commentary on this book: Ecclesiastes: Life in a Fallen World.
Have you traveled overseas for missions?
I’ve traveled to the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Brazil.
What are you passionate about?
I love teaching the Word of God.
Why do you enjoy teaching at RBC?
I enjoy teaching a combination of spiritual commitment and intellectual curiosity.
What aspect of working with students do you find rewarding?
For me, it is the interaction with students, the give-and-take in the classroom. I find the opportunity to influence students and to help develop a love for God’s Word very rewarding. That is what I enjoy.
What qualities would you say make a student successful at RBC?
I would say diligence, but also curiosity—a willingness to not only read what has been assigned in class, but to read beyond that, to chase down some of those things that are mentioned in the footnotes. Read the other books; read things that are not on the list. And challenge yourself. Don't read something that is easy when you can read something that is hard and makes you think.
How would you describe the community at RBC?
I would say that the RBC student body is intellectual and spiritual in an approachable and humble manner.
If you were not a professor, what would you be doing?
I would probably be teaching elsewhere or perhaps pastoring a church.
How did you know you wanted to be a professor/preacher?
I went to seminary with the idea of becoming a pastor, only to figure out while in seminary that my gifts were more academic than pastoral.
What is something you wish you knew before going into seminary?
Anything about systematic theology—the idea of understanding the Christian faith in a systematic fashion. I could have gotten that from the Westminster Confession and catechisms, but I was not raised on them and was not aware of them at the time.
In your four decades of teaching, what has been your favorite course to teach?
Why is it important to learn a biblical language?
There are always subtleties lost in translation, because translators have to make choices. Reading the Greek or the Hebrew helps you see those subtleties.
What are some basic words in Hebrew that Christians should familiarize themselves with?
Hesed, often translated as “lovingkindness” or “steadfast love,” is the fundamental idea of faithfulness to covenant promises. Shalom is usually translated “peace,” but it also has the added connotations of health and wholeness.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Reading, especially crime fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.
How many children do you have?
My wife, Lynn, and I have four children: Danny, Sarah, Kathyryn, and Paul. The Lord has also blessed us with nine grandchildren: Lexi, Stephen, Evan, Jacob, Megan, Callum, Benton, Ruth, and Wyatt.
How long have you lived in Florida?
Spring 2020 was my first semester at RBC, so I have been in Florida for a little less than a year.
What activities do you enjoy doing in Florida?
I mostly enjoy walking along the riverwalk in Sanford.
What is your favorite type of music to listen to?
This is a hard one to answer. It partly depends on my mood. But in general, classic rock, classical, and jazz.
How many times have you read the Bible, cover to cover?
A rough guess would be forty to fifty times, minimum.
What advice for reading the Bible would you give to high school students?
Try to read in chunks. Most Bible reading plans have you read a chapter or two here, and a chapter or two there. It is better to read several chapters in a row to get a better feel for the story. For example, read all of 1 Timothy in one sitting. Or read Genesis 1–11 in one sitting. You will see things you never saw before.