A New Testament Scholar from the Himalayas

Posted: March 6, 2014 in General

unnamedNepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is the world’s ninety-third largest country by land mass and the forty-first most populous country, better known as “the top of the world”. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the North by the People’s Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. My 2013 visit to Nepal was in every means a refreshing experience. It was my honor that I was invited as a lecturer on the Gospel of John at Nepal Ebenezar Bible College in Kathmandu. The four days’ interaction with the students and faculty of NEBC and the churches around contributed long-lasting results in my life. During my stay at NEBC, Mr. Caleb Yashwanth, the Dean of Academic Affairs, arranged a time of interaction with Nepalese New Testament scholar Rev. Dr. Ramesh Khatry. I was told that Dr. Ramesh Khatry is the first and the only New Testament scholar with a PhD in the Nepalese context. His contributions as a New Testament scholar and relationship with the extended Nepalese church as a Christian minister are significant things to mention here. The following details about him are gathered from my one-on-one interaction with him.

In 1976 Ramesh Khatry left Nepal in order to pursue his Bachelor of Divinity (BD) studies at The Union Biblical Seminary, Yeotmal, India, and in 1979 he completed his studies with a distinction. He grew up as a Christian in the Nepalese Hindu environment and that shaped his interpretative outlook of the New Testament. When he left the homeland in 1976 there were only about 3,000 Christians in Nepal. But when he returned back in 1979 the Christian community was rapidly grown to 12,000 people. From 1979 onward Khatry was involved as an active worker and founder of The Nepal Christian Fellowship, The Nepal Bible Institute, and The Nepal Bible Ashram. Through these initiatives he persuaded many Nepali Christians for scholarly pursuit.

In the year 1986 he started his research work for earning his PhD in New Testament at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, UK. In 1991 he successfully defended his dissertation and returned back to serve his nation. The dissertation was titled “The Authenticity of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares and Its Interpretation”. He had completed his dissertation under the supervision of Dr. David Wenham. The dissertation seeks to demonstrate the authenticity (as dominical teaching) of the parable of the darnel (Matt. 13:24-30) and its interpretation (Matt. 13:36-43). The interpretation in particular is almost universally regarded as non-dominical, notably by Joachim Jeremias and his followers. But Khatry argues that the whole of Matt. 13:36-43 (and Matt. 13:24-30) should be seen as dominical. He also challenged the arguments of Geza Vermes and others that the Christological title ‘Son of Man’ was not used during the time of Jesus. His dissertation can be considered as one of the significant critiques toward the post-Jülicher interpretation of the parables.

Dr. Ramesh Khatry says that his five years of research toward his PhD taught him several lessons of writing. He authored the following seven books in the Nepali language: New Testament Background, A Commentary on Romans, A Commentary on Galatians, A Commentary on Revelation, A Guide to Biblical Interpretation, A Guide to Expository Preaching, and A Book on Paul. His contributions to the Nepalese churches and to the theological communities in the Himalayas are immense. He was principal of Nepal Ebenezer Bible College from 1992 till 1998. From 1998 he works as the Education Director of The Association for Theological Education in Nepal (ATEN). The primary purpose of ATEN is to upgrade and promote theological education in the country. ATEN has the largest theological library in Nepal with 19,500 books. Dr. Ramesh Khatry and his colleagues took active initiative to build theological foundation in Nepal. During the developmental stages of ATEN they had to confront several struggles such as lack of qualified students, faculty and research resources, financial barriers, and the problem of recognition and affiliation. Currently, ATEN authorities are in conversations with the Religious Studies department of Tribhuvan University for affiliation. My one hour conversation with Dr. Ramesh Khatry informed me the lessons of humility, determination, and scholarship. In rapidly growing native-church context of Nepal, Dr. Ramesh Khatry’s commitment for biblical scholarship has to be reckoned with significance.

See the Google Book here.

By Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India

  1. Sunil Varghese says:

    I have deep respect for this man of God. During tumultuous times in the 70s through to the 90s when people could barely speak about Jesus, he withstood the test of times. As a child, I remember him as one with firm faith in the Lord. Salute.

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