Safwat Marzouk, PhD
Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Safwat Marzouk, PhD, grew up where interfaith dialogue among Christians, Jews and Muslims influences daily life. As a Christian in Egypt, he focused on studying the Old Testament to better understand God’s vision of shalom. An ordained member of The Synod of the Nile (a counterpart to the Presbyterian Church), Safwat was a pastor in Egypt and also while completing a doctoral program at Princeton Theological Seminary. His studies concluded with his dissertation, “Not a Lion, but a Dragon”: The Monstrification of Egypt in the Book of Ezekiel. He was a teaching fellow at Princeton and has been an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His love of teaching, his pastoral heart and scholarly curiosity foster classroom discussions that bring compelling insights to ancient texts.
How does the Bible shape your vocation as a professor?
I study, teach and write about the Bible with an emphasis on how the triune God forms a faith community in the world. I believe God is at work forming a community with a dual identity as sojourners and as recipients of the promise of the kingdom of God. This dual identity helps the faith community to be rooted in the world and formed by different ethics. In a world where migration is seen as a challenge, the church should see it as an opportunity not only to show hospitality but also to celebrate difference and claim a biblical perspective on what it means to be the church.
Another aspect of my scholarship relates to my background as a Christian Egyptian. Reading Scriptures from this cultural location means wrestling with issues of peace and justice from the perspective of a minority that seeks to follow Christ in a predominantly Muslim context. The context of Middle Eastern Christians forces them to deal with issues of colonialism, neo-imperialism, Arab-Israeli conflict, oppression and terrorism. Therefore, my work focuses on how the other is constructed in the Hebrew Bible in order to nurture biblical theology that builds bridges of peace in this interreligious milieu.
What can students expect in your classroom?
In many of my classes, I ask students to write and present on the topic, “My embodiment as a theologian,” describing their background as they read the Bible and think theologically. This assignment raises students’ awareness of the context from which they read the Bible and helps them name the contributions they make and the obstacles they face as they enter into this learning community. They also become aware of where their classmates are coming from, which strengthens the intercultural competence of everyone involved.
In addition to presentations, lectures and interactive, hands-on-learning, one of the very fruitful techniques that I have implemented is a “staged submission of the final project.” Students begin their final project early in the semester and submit parts of it in stages. Then I provide feedback before they move on to the next step. This approach has improved the quality of the projects and made the educational process really interactive.
How do you encourage students to hold together excellent academics with deep spiritual formation?
I begin my classes with an invitation for the students to share their joys or concerns so that we can pray for one another. Sharing and prayers help us to become a better community of learners and enable each individual to be more present when we pay attention to academic matters.
My goal for students
Why I am at AMBS
Memberships and associations
More about Safwat