Craig C. Hill
Professor of New Testament
Ask Craig C. Hill to describe a “typical” day, and he’ll tell you there’s no such thing. As Dean of Perkins School of Theology, his job involves juggling many roles: pastor, counselor, sounding board, cheerleader, prognosticator, scholar, mediator, negotiator, visionary, bridge-builder, representative, and spokesperson.
“This is the classic no-two-days-are-alike job, which has its up- and its downside,” he said. “Many days turn out quite different from what I planned because of some new issue that has to be addressed.”
Much of his time is devoted to attending meetings, answering email, writing and reviewing reports—and attending more meetings. Before the pandemic, Hill travelled often to meet with church and academic leaders.
“The dean is the one person in the school who, within limits, has access to the big picture,” he said. “That informs decisions about the entire school’s future, which inevitably requires balancing competing goals, interests, and concerns. In all of this, it helps a lot if you can maintain a sense of proportion and a sense of humor!”
He also meets with Perkins alums and members of the Perkins Executive Board. Almost daily, he confers at length with Associate Dean Hugo Magallanes and Andy Keck, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives.
“These and other such conversations are often the most enjoyable events of the day,” he said. “I like people and wouldn’t thrive in a position that didn’t allow for time with others.”
On top of all this, Hill, who is also Professor of New Testament, still finds time to write and teach. He frequently composes articles (e.g., for Perspective), talks, and other short pieces that relate to his work as dean. In June, he’ll teach a D.Min. course on calling and leadership for the first time.
“I have spent far more time as a professor than in any other role, and I look forward to being back in the (virtual, in this case) classroom,” he said. “Teaching is a wonderfully life-giving experience.”
Hill also reads widely and enjoys learning about people—both in and outside of academic and church circles.
“This is grist for the mill of theological reflection, especially as I try to understand how biblical teachings make sense of and relate to the human condition,” he said. “For that reason, I also enjoy reading in areas such as neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and history. All of which enriches my understanding of and appreciation for, in particular, the teachings of Jesus. One place that appears is in my book Servant of All: Status, Ambition, and the Way of Jesus, which draws on several disciplines. I love learning. I only wish I had a better memory for what I’ve read.”
Someday, he’d like to do more writing, perhaps writing a book on the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or trying his hand at fiction.
“Both of my adult children write fiction,” he said. “I realized the other day that I haven’t done that since high school. Someday, I’d like to give it a try. I might be terrible at it, but it might also be fun for my kids to try to teach me!”
New Testament; Eschatology; Christian Leadership; Human Behavior
Favorite Bible Verse
Philippians 2:5: “Let the same mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” You have to read the preceding and subsequent verses to realize the power of this one sentence.
Books on His Nightstand
Recently he’s read Jon Meacham’s Franklin and Winston and Harold Holtzer’s Lincoln at Cooper Union. (A native of Springfield, Illinois, Hill typically reads a couple of Lincoln books each year.) Currently, he’s halfway through Howard Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart. His next read: Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Not all of his reading is serious, however: “I’ve also been on a bit of a Dave Barry kick recently.”
Fantasy Dinner Party
Hill would host two fantasy dinner parties. The first would assemble key people from the Bible: Jesus, Paul, Peter, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others. His second guest list would include people from the mid-19th century he’s read about for many years: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant, Joshua Chamberlain, Harriet Tubman, Henry Ward Beecher, Sojourner Truth, and others, as space permits. “I’d want to hear them reflect on their lives, of course, but I’d also want to know what they make of the United States today and how they would lead now,” he said.
Hill and his wife Robin will celebrate their 40th anniversary in December. They have a son who works for T-Mobile in North Carolina and a daughter who is completing her first year in a master’s program in writing at Simmons University in Boston. “Fortunate readers will already have met my excellent and much beloved spouse, Robin,” he said. “If you have, you’ll appreciate those adjectives.”
Personal Spiritual Practices
“Robin and I pray together every morning, which is an essential practice,” he said. “And reading and learning have always enriched me and deepened my understanding of the world and, with it, God.”
Hill enjoys working with his hands; he enjoys making pottery and building or fixing almost anything. A favorite repair project: fixing pinball machines! “They are wonderfully complex systems that require a lot of work to restore and maintain,” he said. He has also done some video editing and illustration along with a fair bit of graphic design. He collects antiquarian (15th-19th century) prints, which cover the walls of his home and office and combine his love of art and history. Strongly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s work while growing up, he developed an ongoing interest in architecture and even furniture. (“My dream is to live in an Arts and Crafts era house,” he said. “We already have the sofa for it!”)
Hill also loves music. “I am a lousy guitarist, but I can listen to music for hours,” he said. “I have been incrementally improving my stereo system for 50 years. Hearing good music played on good equipment is a joy.”
Hill lived in Europe several times and is always happy to return. Oxford and Cambridge are like second homes to him and his wife. (Trivia tidbit: Hill was the first person to use a personal computer in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and did quite a bit of programming around that time.) Their favorite European city is Paris, where he and Robin lived for one summer while enrolled in a course at the Sorbonne. Next on their travel bucket list: New Zealand.
Hill’s mother had a cooking show on TV when he was little. However, he didn’t inherit her talent for cooking. “Turns out, there are limits to genetics,” he said. “Apart from boiling and microwaving, I am hopeless in the kitchen.”
Question He’d Ask at the Pearly Gates
“Can I get another shot at Little League?”