David F. Watson

Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Associate Professor of New Testament


Teaching in a seminary offers me the opportunity to contribute to the renewal of the church that is so deeply needed within the mainline denominations.

As a United Methodist minister I care very much about the life of the church, and I’ve seen the ways in which clergy, given the proper training and tools, can energize congregations and help to transform lives in the name of Jesus Christ.

I believe that the New Testament is the definitive revelation of the love of God made present in Jesus Christ. As such it is deeply relevant for our lives in the twenty-first century. Yet the works of the New Testament have been influenced by the social and historical situations of the communities that produced them. They therefore bear the marks of first-century composition. Striking a balance between understanding these works as ancient texts and as present-day sacred scripture is a difficult but important process. To the greatest extent possible, we must hear the texts on their own terms while being open to the ways in which God works through these texts to lead us in the Christian life.

– David F. Watson

Teaching and Research
David Watson teaches New Testament and Greek. His interests include the Gospel of Mark, the Bible and disabilities, and theological interpretations of scripture. He participates both in the Society of Biblical Literature and the Wesleyan Theological Society.

As Academic Dean, Dr. Watson oversees the academic program of the school and is a member of United’s Executive Staff

B.A., Texas Tech University (1993)

M.Div., Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University (1997)

Ph.D., Southern Methodist University (2005)

David is an ordained elder in the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has worked in the local church and in a United Methodist campus ministry. He currently serves on the Miami Valley District Committee on Ordained Ministry and the West Ohio Inclusive Body of Christ Ministry Team for Persons with Disabilities.
Honor Among Christians: The Cultural Key to the Messianic Secret, Fortress, 2010.
Readers have long puzzled over peculiar aspects of the Gospel of Mark: Jesus’ attempts to conceal his deeds and his identity. William Wrede called these and similar motifs the “messianic secret” in Mark, and proposed that Mark had invented the “secret” to explain why the announcement of the arrival of the Son of God had not taken the world by storm. Other scholars have disagreed: perhaps Mark meant to highlight Jesus’ divinity (after all, Jesus usually doesn’t succeed in keeping himself hidden!) … or perhaps Mark wanted to tie Jesus’ identity to his destiny on the cross as a warning to disciples that they may face persecution. Or, some have proposed, there simply is no single explanation for all of Jesus’ bewildering behaviors in the Gospel.

David F. Watson brings a new perspective to the “messianic secret,” relying not on the Christological concerns of 19th- and 20th-century theologians, but on recent insights into the role of honor and shame in ancient Mediterranean culture on the part of social scientists. Mark’s portrayal of Jesus simultaneously shows his ability to provide favors and benefits to others and his refusal to put himself forward or draw attention to himself as a benefactor, thereby teaching that in God’s kingdom it is not the great and powerful who are most highly regarded, but the humble. Mark’s depiction of Jesus is part of a larger effort to promote a radically different understanding of honor within the family of faith.

With Joel B. Green, ed., Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture, Baylor University Press, 2012.

Article(s), Chapter(s), and Review(s):
“Spiritual Sobriety in 1 Peter,” Expository Times, 122 (11): 539-42.

Exegesis Essays for Lectionary Homiletics, October 16 and 30, 2011.

Review of Psalms: God Cares How I Feel, curriculum for people with intellectual disabilities by Friendship Ministries, Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health, 15.3 (2011).

Review of Mark: Texts @ Contexts, ed. Nicole Wilkinson Duran, Teresa Okure, and Daniel Patte, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, forthcoming.

“Canonical Theism and Scripture: Reflections on a Scholarly Movement Ten Years After Its Birth,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 46:1, Spring 2011.

“The Life of Aesop and the Gospel of Mark: Two Ancient Approaches to Elite Values,” Journal of Biblical Literature 129.5 (2010): 697-714.

Introduction and notes for the Gospel of Mark, Wesley Study Bible, Abingdon, 2009.

Propers 20-29 in lectionary commentary, New Proclamation Series, Year B (2009), Fortress, 2008.

Exegesis Essays for Lectionary Homiletics, June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 2008.

“Jesus of History and Canon: Some Thoughts on Interdisciplinary Scholarship,” in Canonical Theism, ed. William J. Abraham, Jason E. Vickers, and Natalie Van Kirk, Eerdmans, 2008.

Review of Reading with Anthropology, by Louise J. Lawrence, Review of Biblical Literature, November 15, 2006.

“The ‘Messianic Secret’: Demythologizing a Non-Existent Markan Theme,” Journal of Theology, Summer 2006.

Personal Life
David is married to Harriet. They have two sons: Luke and Sean.