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Professor Profile: Arthur Dewey

By Rebecca Bayens
On February 14, 2012
  • Xavier Newswire: Where did you go to school? How long have you been at Xavier?
  • Arthur (Art) Dewey: I am from Boston, and I graduated from the honors program at Boston College. I also studied at Harvard. I have taught at Xavier since 1980.
  • XN: Tell me about your family.
  • AD: I have a wife and two sons. Both of my sons are Xavier grads.
  • XN: Why did you choose to study/teach theology?
  • AD: It's the questions that have constantly been interesting to me. It's not that I like to study theology as much as I feel committed to the intellectual life and how this plays out for the survival of the planet. I once read the whole Bible when I was 12 and came away thoroughly confused….primal confusion made me want to figure things out.
  • XN: What classes do you teach at Xavier?
  • AD: Mostly New Testament courses: History of interpretation, Bible and Media…one course I've been doing since 1987 is the Jesus seminar, and that's been a lot of fun.
  • XN: What is your favorite class to teach and why?
  • AD: I particularly enjoy the seminars…a recent one I taught was on Paul and politics. Some enjoyment depends on the students; if they're into it, it's a joy.
  • XN: What do you like most about Xavier?
  • AD: It has given me an opportunity to really interact with students and not simply in the classroom…a number of students have actually become my really good friends over the years. Second, my colleagues and the staff have been really good. It's been the quality of personal relationships that have made life vital here.
  • XN: What is your favorite book?
  • AD: Middlemarch by George Eliot. It's a world unto itself. She's actually a real theologian, but no one would call her a theologian. She takes seriously the advances of Darwin and science and it's really impressed upon her imagination. It's very profound. I also like Sun Tzu's Art of War.
  • XN: Who is your favorite theologian and why?
  • AD: I don't like to think of people as theologians. Instead, I like to think of people who are thinking deep thoughts. Some of the most interesting theologians are not actually theologians. For example: Paul, who was not a theologian, but was a great thinker. Jesus wasn't a theologian either… certainly neither of them had Ph.D.'s from Jerusalem U.
  • XN: Do you have any advice for aspiring theologians?
  • AD: Learn how to write English. Writing is hard. Do the hard thing. Learn through mistakes. That's the only way you learn anyway. You don't learn through getting A's. Don't give in to the desire to con the system. There is no wisdom in that.
  • XN: Do you have any interesting talents/hobbies?
  • AD: I write poetry. I also play the harmonica….I could handle Greek folk music with my harmonica playing (while on the study abroad trip to Greece). Usually, my wife tells me to stop it.

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