Seminary bids farewell to Marzouk

Published: August 3, 2021

By Annette Brill Bergstresser

ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — In July, Safwat Marzouk, PhD, concluded his roles as Associate Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and Bible Department Chair at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana, in July 2021 after 10 years of service. He is now serving as Associate Professor of Old Testament at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

Marzouk, who came to AMBS in July 2011, taught courses on the Old Testament, Biblical Hebrew, biblical interpretation, migration in the Bible and the Church, and biblical foundations for peace and justice. He also co-led “Encountering Egypt: Past and Present” learning tours in his home country in 2016 and 2020. He has become a sought-after speaker and workshop presenter across the Mennonite Church in the U.S. and Canada.

“Safwat is an engaged and thoughtful scholar-teacher, modeling how scholarship informs teaching and vice versa,” remarked Vice President and Academic Dean Beverly Lapp, EdD. “He is intensely invested in intersecting his work as a scholar with anti-oppression analysis and intercultural awareness, and he skillfully engages people across a broad spectrum of educational backgrounds and learning styles. He has the heart and mind of a pastor and cares deeply about the life of the church.”

During Marzouk’s time at AMBS, he published his doctoral dissertation — Egypt as a Monster in the Book of Ezekiel (Mohr Siebeck, 2015) — and Intercultural Church: A Biblical Vision for an Age of Migration (Fortress, 2019). These works reflect his deep interest in how to read the Bible as a Christian Egyptian in light of the negative representation of Egypt in the Bible, and in the implications of this interpretation for the life of the church in the Middle East and North America and for Jewish-Muslim-Christian dialogue.

Marzouk’s research also has focused on reading the Bible with and through the eyes of migrants — inviting congregations not only to welcome migrants but also to integrate them, and to strengthen their commitments to shared power and justice-making. In his teaching, speaking and writing, he encourages faith communities to enter into relationships with people who are different from them to foster alternatives to the politics of fear and exclusion.

One of Marzouk’s Bible Department colleagues, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins Drew Strait, PhD, spoke warmly of his “infectious passion for understanding biblical texts in their historical contexts.”

“Safwat has an uncanny ability to contextualize the world of the ‘there and then’ with the world of the ‘here and now’ in order to empower the church to bear witness to God’s love, peace and justice,” he reflected. “At AMBS, students and colleagues alike have felt the impact of Safwat’s teaching and leadership; his influence on our lives and congregations will be with us for many years to come.”

Lapp noted that Marzouk’s family has connections to Richmond, which has a vibrant Egyptian-American community, and that Union Presbyterian Seminary has strong ties to the church in Egypt, where Presbyterians are the largest Protestant group.

“Union Presbyterian is extraordinarily fortunate to have Safwat joining their faculty, and we look forward to staying connected with him as colleague and friend in the theological school community,” she said.

Marzouk earned a Bachelor of Theology (1999) and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (2001) from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt; a Master of Sacred Theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City (2002); and a PhD in Old Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary (2012) in New Jersey. He has written Exodus, Joshua, Ezekiel in the Arabic Contemporary Commentary (Dar Al Thaqafa, 2018), as well as numerous journal articles, book chapters, book reviews and encyclopedia entries. He has been a frequent presenter at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature and is working on Exodus: A Commentary for the New Interpretation Series (John Knox Westminster, 2022).

Before coming to AMBS, Marzouk was an adjunct instructor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary; and an adjunct instructor at the Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Coptic Catholic Seminary in Cairo. He served as a pastor at the Arabic American Evangelical Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, and El-Saraya Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Marzouk is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Synod of the Nile of the Presbyterian Church in Egypt, and the Wabash Valley Presbytery of Presbyterian Church USA. While at AMBS, he and his family attended Sunnyside Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana.

AMBS is in the process of searching for a Professor of Biblical Studies to follow Marzouk.

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