Scott Hahn will join faculty at USML/Mundelein

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scott Hahn, perhaps the best-known Catholic theologian scholar in the United States, will become a visiting professor at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in the fall.

The seminary announced Hahn’s appointment to the McEssy Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Biblical Theology on April 30. Hahn will teach one class each semester and be on the Mundelein campus one day each week, while continuing as the Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization and professor of theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

The creation of the visiting professorship is part of an ongoing effort to create an endowed position in each of the academic departments, as a way to attract and keep well-known scholars in those fields. Hahn is perhaps the top name on the list of biblical theologians, and is especially well known for his work on the new evangelization, which Father Thomas Baima, vice rector for academic affairs, called the “integrating element” for Mundelein’s curriculum.

“The Mundelein curriculum places a stress on Scripture as the soul of theology,” said Baima. “We intentionally cover every genre of biblical literature and present the study of the Bible according to the liturgical logic of preaching. One goal of our Department of Biblical Studies and Homiletics is to train excellent preachers. Dr. Hahn will be a great addition to help us achieve this goal.”

Hahn said he welcomes the opportunity to be part of Mundelein’s effort to combine the academic education and the spiritual formation of men preparing for the priesthood.

“What we’re really doing is forming future fathers,” Hahn said, saying that the spiritual fatherhood of priests is far more than symbolic. “What I do as father to my six children, priests do for the faithful. I am a breadwinner; priests are going to be eucharistic breadwinners.”

Biblical theology is the intersection between biblical exegesis and systematic theology, Baima explained. In the fall, Hahn will teach a required course on Johannine literature, he said. In the spring, he will teach an elective course on biblical hermeneutics, or the liturgy’s role in reading the Bible.

Father Robert Barron, rector/president of Mundelein, said that when the McEssy family donated the money to create the endowment, he approached Hahn at a conference where both men were speaking to ask for ideas on who to approach for the position.

“I said, ‘I know we could never get you, so who should we consider?’” Barron said. “And he gave me some names, but then he said ‘What makes you think you couldn’t get me?’ I just feel that Scott Hahn is maybe the premier figure in the country in terms of reading the Bible in a way consistent with the new evangelization.”

Barron said Hahn will prepare seminarians to proclaim and preach the Gospel rather than seek to turn them into technical Scripture scholars.

Hahn said that means helping priests make connections, not only between different parts of the Bible, but between the Scripture and liturgy and the Scripture and living a Christian life. People focused only on academics tend to over-specialize, he said, while priests who are preaching homilies and counseling couples about to be married or those in crisis have to focus on how Scripture supports and fits with all areas of the faith.

“The move is to present the Catholic faith in a way that helps people make connections,” he said.

In addition to his university teaching career, Hahn is founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a research and educational center that promotes Scripture study in the Catholic tradition, and he is the author, co-author or editor of more than 40 books.

Mundelein is the largest Catholic seminary in the United States, providing education and formation for seminarians from more than 30 dioceses.