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Biography

Hi! I'm Dave. I'm a teacher, language-lover, incurable infracaninophile (lover of the underdog), dad and granddad, and a bunch of other things. I live and work on a farm in Virginia and commute to my other job in North Carolina. Mostly I'm just a broken person who is therefore qualified to minister to other broken people. It's been said that God teaches us to trust by reminding us how helpless we are. He teaches us patience by making us wait for what we want. He teaches us wisdom by allowing us to fail, make mistakes, and learn from them. He teaches us grace by not stopping difficulty or hardship. And He teaches us humility by sending us thorns to strip away our pride. Like Paul, I've been through thorn therapy. When I wrote about Paul's concept of weakness in my doctoral dissertation, I discovered that Paul was a broken man. He was a man who operated his life on his knees, a man who could say, "When I am weak, God's strength works through me, and I can do things I could otherwise not do." Paul had learned the lesson of the thorn. The grace of God had taught him strength in weakness. I'm hoping to learn those same lessons.

 

I've led a pretty interesting life I guess you could say. I've been a surfer in Hawaii and a lifeguard in California. I've climbed the Sakkara pyramid in Egypt and explored the Great Wall in China, the Parthenon in Athens, the Eifel Tower in Paris, the British Museum in London, the Roman ruins of Trier in Germany, the tombs of Cyrus and Darius in Iran, Nahum's tomb in Iraq, the rubber plantations of India, and have enjoyed a danish in Denmark, a hamburger in Hamburg, a frankfurter in Frankfurt, and vienna sausage in Vienna. (There are no french fries in France, only pommes frites.) For 15 years I did cross-country riding on my fantastic horses. (See My Horses, My Teachers.) I was born in Honolulu and raised in Kailua on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I enjoyed big wave riding at such famous beaches as Makaha, Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Pupukea. But the biggest ride of my life was when I put my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord at the age of eight. During my teen years I was active in the Jesus Movement as well as in my local church, serving as deacon, youth pastor, and music leader.

 

After graduating from Kailua High School in 1970, I studied music at the University of Hawaii. I had played the trumpet from grades 5 to 12 and had been selected to be first chair, first trumpet in the Hawaii all-state band when I was a senior in high school. Growing up I also learned how to play the piano, the guitar, and, of course, the ukulele. In 1971 I left Hawaii for California in order to study the Bible at Biola University. Here I am with my blind roommate from Brazil.

 

 

We studied hard and played harder. I can recall the two of us playing piano duets in chapel services at Biola. Those were the days! I graduated from Biola in 1975 with a B.A. in Biblical Studies, and then enrolled in Biola’s graduate school, Talbot School of Theology, where I majored in New Testament and Greek. In 1976 I was hired to teach 11 units of Greek at Biola, and I've been a Greek teacher ever since. I graduated from Talbot with my M.Div. in 1980 and then began doctoral studies in New Testament at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where I received my Doctor of Theology (D.Theol.) degree in 1983 under the supervision of Professor Bo Reicke. I later took two courses at Jerusalem University College on Mount Zion in Israel. I count it a great privilege to have been enabled by God to attain these degrees. But academic accomplishments are useless without the anointing and blessing of God. I earnestly pray that God's power and wisdom alone would rest on me as I seek to serve Him throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and all over the world.

 

I currently have the honor of serving as Senior Professor of New Testament and Greek and the Dr. M. O. Owens Jr. Chair of New Testament Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. I have also had the privilege of teaching short (1-2 week) courses at Gateway Seminary, New Orleans Seminary, Lancaster Bible College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Talbot School of Theology, Simon Greenleaf University, Criswell College, The Shepherd's Seminary, the Freie Hochschule für Mission (Germany), Tyndale Theological Seminary (Holland), the Bibelschule Walzenhausen (Switzerland), the IEM Bible College (India), Chong Shin Theological Seminary (Korea), Faith Theological Seminary (Korea), Cosin Theological Seminary (Korea), the Evangelical Theological College (Ethiopia), the Meserete Kristos College (Ethiopia), and many other institutions.

 

In addition (and most surprisingly), this island boy has lectured at the Complutensian University in Spain, the Areopagus in Timisoara, Romania, and the Universities of Oxford and Leeds in England. (Yes, that actually did happen.)

 

By the way, I love all kinds of animals, especially horses.

 

 

Just think: Here's an animal that has more muscle in his neck than I have in my whole body.

 

 

Amazing.

 

 

I also enjoy writing. God has allowed me to publish some 100 scholarly articles and book reviews in such journals as Novum Testamentum, New Testament Studies, Bible Translator, Journal of Biblical Literature, Biblica, Westminster Theological Journal, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, and Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. To date I have authored or edited about 25 Pullet Surprise winning books.

 

 

These include The Myth of Adolescence, Learn to Read New Testament Greek, Using New Testament Greek in Ministry, New Testament Textual Criticism, Interpreting the New Testament, Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, and Why Four Gospels? Amazon's got them listed in case you're interested. One day I will publish my magnum opus, Black's Encyclopedia of Surfing and Skateboarding, available at fine bookstores everywhere. I've also had the honor of serving as the New Testament editor of the International Standard Version translation of the Bible and as a founding editor of Filologia Neotestamentaria in Córdoba, Spain. In addition, I currently hold memberships in the Evangelical Theological Society and the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas

 

One of the ways in which colleagues and friends unite in showing appreciation to a fellow academic is by presenting them with a collection of essays. Yours truly has been the recipient of two such Festschriften. In 2017, Danny Akin and Thomas Hudgins edited Getting into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black, and a year later Melton Winstead edited New Testament Philology: Essays in Honor of David Alan Black. I have learned many valuable things from reading these two volumes.

 

Since my wife passed away, I've been on a journey toward physical fitness. I'm often running races on the weekend. I started with simple 5K races. This "run" wasn't much more than a walk with a good tailwind. Then I tried 10Ks. Somewhere around 2016, I misplaced my sense of self-preservation and decided to try a half marathon. Finishing it felt really good.

 

 

Somewhere along the way I fell in love with running. I've completed runs in every distance category up to an ultramarathon. To date, this includes 22 half marathons, 5 triathlons, one 31-mile ultramarathon, and 16 full marathons, including 26.2-mile races in Richmond, Baltimore, St. George (Utah), Cincinnati, Phoenix, Raleigh, Chicago, Dallas, and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

 

 

I think the main reason I run is to prove to the world that I can do more than create Power Points for my classes (which I can't actually do, so I now have two things I need to prove to the world). My other avocation is mountaineering, including the Swiss Alps near Zermatt.

 

 

My favorite mountains to climb are the Breithorn, the Oberrothorn, the Klettersteig, and the Matterhorn. Closer to home, I've climbed two 14,000 foot peaks in the Rockies, including Mount Bierstadt. It was an accomplishment I will not soon forget.

 

 

In conjunction with my trip to the Alps, I started a special fund to support cancer research. It was called The Becky Black Memorial Fund to Fight Endometrial Cancer.

 

 

My goal was to raise $25,000 for cancer research at UNC Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC, where Becky had been treated for 4 years.

 

 

God came through for us in a big way!

 

 

Another project of mine was called Piggin' Out for a Cancer Cure, where $7,000 was raised for UNC Lineberger in conjunction with the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati on May 7, 2017.

 

 

Finally, the Becky Black Building in Bagdogra, India, was dedicated to the Lord in 2015. It houses the North East Theological Seminary.

 

 

For 37 years I was married to Becky Lynn Lapsley Black. I met Becky in the cafeteria line at Biola in 1973. Three years later we were married.

 

 

On November 2, 2013, Becky entered the presence of the One she loved and served so faithfully.

 

 

Hers was one of the most beautiful lives ever lived. You can read about it in her autobiography My Life Story. I've written the story of Becky's Homegoing and how the Lord has helped me to work through my grief in a book called Running My Race. In fact, a central purpose of my website is to help people turn life's struggles into stepping stones by linking their problems to the promises and power of God.

 

Currently I live on a 123-acre working farm in southern Virginia. We've raised everything from sheep to goats to chickens to cattle. Our main crop today is horse-quality square bale hay.

 

 

My home, "Bradford Hall," is named after Becky's ancestor, William Bradford (of Mayflower fame) as well as her father, Bradford Lapsley. In addition to being my main residence, it serves as a place of retreat and refuge for furloughing missionaries, pastors, and others.

 

 

The old house on the farm is called "Maple Ridge." It was built in 1811 and was recently restored and updated. I call this the refugee/guest/ministry house. It is designed for families who need longer-term housing assistance. 

 

 

Today I am a self-supporting missionary to the world. Becky was raised in Ethiopia, the daughter of missionary parents. She introduced me to the land of her youth in 2004, and it was love at first sight.

 

 

Though not an MK, I frequently travel to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to minister to the persecuted church. I have had the joy and privilege of making 6 trips to South Korea, 17 trips to Ethiopia, 13 trips to East Asia, and 10 trips to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. If it's vacation time, you'll often find me on a service trip. I pursue the goal of being a servant-missionary to the world. There is no greater privilege or higher calling. One lesson I've learned from past marathon training blocks is that this life is something to be enjoyed. It's time to have fun! Time to hold each other accountable for our goals. Time to create fresh ideas, fresh goals, and fresh dreams for our lives. Time to look back and reflect and time to look forward and dream. Be not afraid to fail, ladies and gentlemen. Share your goals with others so they can encourage you and motivate you and push you to strive to achieve them. I have many goals for the 2020-2021 school year. Here are some of them:

1. I want to teach my heart out at the seminary, teach like I've never taught before.

2. I want to get strong enough to run my 17th marathon.

3. I want to revise my beginning grammar.

4. I want to start another Greek class in a local church (maybe in Hawai'i again).

5.  I want to slow down enough to see all the good things that are unfolding all around me, especially the tiny, beautiful surprises God has for me even in the midst of the utter wreckage and ugliness of our society.

6. I want to continue to explore what happens when evangelicals place the kingdom of God over political loyalties and how community unfolds in all kinds of different ways (this is all a big part of my forthcoming book Godworld: Enter at Your Own Risk).

7. I want to continue to take personal retreats at the Prayer Center in North Carolina.

8. I want to continue to produce a blog that affects people emotionally, a place that when they read it they feel like they have met a friend.

These goals should keep me highly motivated to pursue a daily walk with God as never before. Life doesn't stand still, folks, regardless of the coronavirus. Many many "files" lost that will never be recovered, but life moves on, just like in running. We march on, we work hard, we appreciate the beauty all around us, we celebrate memories, we explore new options, we write naked, bold things on our blogs, we draw people in with our honesty, we watch some friendships deepen and others die, we say "Get lost" to Christian superstardomism, we choose to honor and support the neglected and suffering in our society, we live purposefully, we fight against group think, we live in a way that shows how much we appreciate God's good gifts, we dance when all we see is doom, we swim upstream, and we love the life he has given us -- the daily gift of just breathing in and out. The curveballs of life are real. We must learn to roll with them. If you haven't failed, you haven't tried!