1Marks Interview Series


At this year’s very enjoyable BJU Seminary retreat at the Wilds, Dr. Robert Bell kindly agreed to sit for the first interview in what I hope to make a series, the 1Marks Interview Series. (While other ministries can afford to hire multiple Marks, βλογάπη has only one, and he actually pays to work here.)

I apologize for the somewhat low audio quality; I made the mistake of adjusting the laptop (on loan from Grace & Knowledge) on two or three occasions, and loud, unpleasant sounds on the recording were the result! I have since purchased a nicer microphone to help with other work I do, so future sessions should be greatly improved!

Here are some of the questions I asked Dr. Bell:

  • How far along are you in your OTT? What does your beard have to do with it?
  • How would you summarize your approach to biblical theology, especially as it relates to systematic theology?
  • Whose approach has been most influential for you in this area?
  • What do you think of Bruce Waltke’s OTT?
  • Do you think fundamentalism needs more scholars?
  • Do you think Bible software has overall increased your productivity or decreased it?
  • I recently read David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers.* His thesis is that media have shaped incoming seminary students by vastly decreasing their ability to interpret texts. Have you personally noticed such a decrease over your decades teaching?

*The questions I asked Dr. Bell actually contained no hyperlinks.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Don Johnson on October 19, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Hey, Mark, thanks for that. Dr. Bell was my absolute favorite in grad school, among many very good teachers. I had him for one semester of Hebrew, at least one of Systematic, and OTI. I can’t remember if I had him for any other classes, but I loved every class I had with him.

    I really appreciate his take on ‘scholarship.’

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. […] let his students use their laptops to write out his famous short essays!), and because he has appeared on this blog being asked the hard questions before, I’m going to pose two-ish questions to him about his new […]

  3. Ken Pulliam on October 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Its been a long time since I have heard Dr. Bell’s voice (I guess at least 20 years). He is an interesting character. The first class I took in grad school was OT Intro. in the summer of 81. I had no idea that it was one of the more difficult classes before I signed up. Having all of that work condensed into a 4 week session was a nightmare. Everything was downhill after that. On technology, I remember discussing the relative merits of a PC vs. a Mac with him in the early 80’s. I bragged that my machine had a 10 meg hard drive. He said he had a 5 meg external drive and he couldn’t imagine ever filling it up.

  4. Jeremy Patterson on October 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    By the way Mark, when will you post more interviews? This is a great idea.

  5. Don Johnson on October 9, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Ken, I also took OTI in the summer, was I in your class? I might have had it in 81 or maybe it was 82. I had already had at least a year and a half of grad school by that point and really enjoyed it. But I was in the swing of things by that point, not starting out!

    I also had a semester of Systematic with Dr Bell in the summer the same year.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. Ken Pulliam on October 9, 2010 at 6:59 am


    You may have been in the class. I was new to the school and did not know anyone. I finished by undergrad in 1981 at another school and moved to Greenville in the middle of May. Originally I was not going to take summer classes but due to some influx of money, I decided to go ahead and get started. I signed up for two classes in the first summer term–OTI and NT Theology with Dr. Custer. I was overwhelmed and thought perhaps I was not cut out for grad school. However, I made it and in 86 I earned by Ph.D. there. Dr. Bell and the OT faculty were definitely more demanding and their courses usually required more work. I can’t believe Dr. Bell is only 68. He seemed old when I was there. Maybe it was the bald head 🙂

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