[Dr. Brian C. Wintle completed his Mechanical Engineering (BE) from the University of Madras in 1965, Bachelor of Divinity (BD) from the Union Biblical Seminary (Yavatmal) in 1972, and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in New Testament from the University of Manchester in 1977. He was a teaching faculty in the Department of New Testament at the UBS, Yavatmal and Pune (1978-1995) and served in various administrative positions of the seminary including that of Principal (1987-1995). Since 1995, he is involved with the Asia Theological Association and, at present, serves both as the Regional Secretary (India) and as the Associate General Secretary of ATA. Dr. Brian is an ordained presbyter of the Church of North India (CNI) of the erstwhile Diocese of Kolhapur, Maharashtra. During his UBS tenure, he was also serving on the pastoral staff of the St. Paul’s Church in Pune. Presently, he is a pastoral staff of the Divya Shanthi Community Churches of India, Bangalore. His publications include articles in various magazines and journals, two volumes in the ATA Commentary Series (Ephesians and Colossians & Philemon), Synoptic Studies (Vols. I & II, TBT, Bangalore), and Small Groups in the Local Church (TBT, Bangalore). Presently he is General Editor of and contributor to the forthcoming South Asia Bible Commentary, a one-volume contextual commentary on the Bible.]
See the interesting interview with Dr. Brian below…
Question: Dr. Brian, you have served as a Professor of New Testament and Principal of Union Biblical Seminary, and now you are working as the Regional Secretary (India) and Associate General Secretary of Asia Theological Association (ATA). You are one of the few people who excelled both in ‘academics’ and ‘leadership’. May you please share your experiences in brief with the younger generation scholars and leaders?
Dr. Brian: I personally do not see much value in `academics’ for its own sake. I believe that all ideology and theology must be made to serve the important task of helping the Church to become the people of God in everyday living. Christians must be challenged to think through their faith, to work out for themselves what is involved in becoming the persons God wants them to be. And that is where someone who is a sound scholar can make a contribution.
Question: In my observation, you are one of the leading Evangelical scholars in India today. As an “Indian Christian”/”Evangelical”/”Biblical scholar”, how do you view the concept and praxis of Mission in the present day Indian context?
Dr. Brian: In my opinion, a primary need in the Church is that of sound Bible exposition. That was the perceived need when I made the decision to train to become a Bible teacher, and I believe the need remains today. The Church needs Christian thinkers – members who have allowed the truth of the gospel to shape their thinking, their convictions, their lives and their responses to people and to situations in which they find themselves. In our country, piety is often confused with religion – ritual, and performance. But the essence of being Christian has to do rather with being – with the kind of persons we are. And it is our thinking that will determine that.
Question: As a New Testament scholar, what is the usual method you employ when you interpret the scripture? Do you have any special advice(s) to share with the upcoming New Testament scholars in particular and biblical scholars in general?
Dr. Brian: My starting point in Biblical interpretation is the authority of Scripture. I come to Scripture as a member of the faith community, and trusting that, if I use the necessary tools of interpretation correctly, the Spirit will guide me to the truth. I do not have much respect for approaches that sit in judgment on the Biblical text.
Question: Who is the biblical scholar who influenced you the most? May you describe a bit about her/him and the way s/he influenced you?
Dr. Brian: In my days as a student in Union Biblical Seminary, my NT Professor, Dr Peter O’Brien, had a profound influence on me. He taught me to handle the Biblical text with respect, and to submit to it as the Word of God. Dr O’Brien was a meticulous exegete, and at one time, his commentaries on Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians & Philemon were acclaimed as the best available in evangelical scholarship. He has left a lasting impression on me.
Question: What is your opinion about “bridging the perspectives of the Eastern and Western New Testament scholarships?” In your opinion, whether the scripture has to be interpreted ‘locally’ or ‘globally’?
Dr. Brian: I’m not sure that there is wisdom in making a choice between interpreting Scripture globally or locally. Surely we need to look for both global and local relevance and application of a text. Similarly, in trying to understand a text, we can learn from the history of its interpretation – no matter whether the latter is from the West or elsewhere. However, in the light of my earlier comments I may say that it is the interpretation of Scripture in the local context that primarily helps Christians to develop biblically in their thinking and practice.
Dr. Brian, we appreciate you for your generous contribution toward UBS, New Testament scholarship, Indian Church, and ATA.
Interviewed by Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India