Asbury Scholars Present Groundbreaking Book at International Medieval Conference – Asbury University
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Asbury Scholars Present Groundbreaking Book at International Medieval Conference

June 3, 2024

From left: Randy Richardson, Dr. Raymond Van Dam, and Dr. Burnam Reynolds ’70

In May at the 59th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Associate Professor of Classical Languages Randy Richardson and Professor of History (Emeritus) Dr. Burnam Reynolds ’70 served on a roundtable about their recent book, Gregory of Tours: The Book of the Miracles of the Blessed Andrew the Apostle. Hosted by Western Michigan University, the roundtable included scholars who shared their approaches to the book, including Dr. Yaniv Fox (Bar-Ilan University), Dr. Hope D. Williard (University of Lincoln), and Dr. Nikolas O. Hoel (Northeastern Illinois University). Dr. Kelly Gibson, University of Dallas and co-editor of the Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations (DMTT) series, organized and presided at the roundtable as well as hosted a book launch reception sponsored by DMTT.

With an introduction from Reynolds and a foreword by noted historian Raymond Van Dam, Richardson provided the first full translation into English of Gregory of Tours’ Latin text surrounding Saint Andrew’s ministry in what is modern-day Turkey and Greece. This book is the most recent volume (29) in the Dallas Medieval Texts and Translations series.

“Gregory of Tours recounts how God works through people,” said Richardson. “Saint Andrew allowed God to work through him to heal individuals and change lives. Those interested in the post-resurrection lives of the apostles would gain much from reading Gregory’s edifying text.”

“Richardson’s work is groundbreaking,” said Reynolds, who taught at Asbury from 1973-2019. “By providing the first complete English translation of this sixth-century work, he further confirms Gregory’s authorship and provides readers with cross-cultural conversion stories.”

Richardson celebrates 25 years of full-time teaching at Asbury University. He received his M.A. in classical languages from Indiana State University (with additional work at Asbury Theological Seminary and The Johns Hopkins University) and is Asbury’s only classicist on the faculty, teaching all levels of Latin and ancient Greek as well as courses on classical mythology and ancient Roman civilization. He and Reynolds are currently in conversation regarding some sixth-century Latin correspondence as a potential collaborative project.

Reynolds served faithfully at Asbury for 46 years, retiring in 2019. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Kentucky, with research interests in early medieval Ireland, pre-history of the Crusades, the Missionary War and the Baltic Crusades, and Gregory of Tours. His next book, Barbarian Queens and the Conversion of Europe, will be released in the fall.

Richardson and Reynolds express the relevance of this sixth-century writing to the 21st century, noting that readers will recognize in Gregory’s lively account of the ministry of Saint Andrew several issues that we grapple with today, such as the nature of marriage, religious intolerance, sexual immorality and sex trafficking, sound teaching on matters of faith, those who are different from us, the justice system, misuse of power, the marginalized, spiritual warfare, and belief in miracles. Both authors are also quite pleased that some scholars involved in the roundtable recognized and were keenly interested in the pedagogical value of their book and plan to use it in their classes.

“In our postmodern world, we tend to separate the natural and the supernatural,” Richardson said. “But there was no separation of these realms in Gregory’s day, which notably witnessed miracles.”

“People of the early Middle Ages saw miracles as natural outworkings,” Reynolds said. “Then, in the 12th century, the idea developed that God occasionally intervenes. In our current landscape, we look at causation and tend to compartmentalize our faith. This book shifts the focus from what we can do to what God can do.”

Through their interdisciplinary collaboration, Richardson and Reynolds integrate a liberal arts framework through intertwining Latin, history, and religion. Thanks to Richardson’s translation work, the book incorporates a dual-text format, with Latin and English on facing pages for readers to engage the material in both languages.

“This book takes history a step further,” Reynolds said. “History tells what happens. Hagiography, namely writing about the lives and deeds of the saints, shows how God worked through people.”

Released by Peeters Publishers, an international academic publisher in Leuven, Belgium, this book is available on Amazon.