This is a great and wondrous day. Rejoice, my gentle snowflakes! For our Infallible Hero, the great Moisés Silva, was born on September 4, 1945, which makes this his 65th birthday.
Since one of the chief burdens of The Voice of Stefan is to spread the knowledge of the infallibility of Moisés Silva throughout the land, it occurs to me that his dies natalis should be a paramount observance in this blog’s yearly cycle. Therefore I have decided to proclaim this as International Moisés Silva Day, to be celebrated on this date in perpetuity.
In honor of the festivities, I wish to share with you two personal anecdotes that Silva used as illustrations for a sermon on Genesis 11:1-9 that he preached at a Gordon-Conwell chapel service during his tenure as Mary French Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at that institution (1996-2001). I listened to this sermon on tape (!) several years ago, and while I’m a bit fuzzy on some of the details, I sufficiently remember the thrust of the anecdotes to relay them in turn to you. [UPDATE: It seems that, like every other preacher in the world, Silva is in the habit of recycling sermons: I have just discovered that he preached this very sermon at a Westminster chapel service in 1991. You may listen to the full sermon, which features both of the stories below, here.]
The first takes us back to a romantic date that took place during Christmas break in our Infallible Hero’s freshman year of college. Apparently, while driving his date back home, he had asked her whether she liked to attend big spectacles such as the Orange Bowl, which would be taking place a few short weeks later. The young lady said that she loved to do so, and Silva replied that, for his part, he didn’t much care for big crowds. Later, however, and much to his horror, he realized that he hadn’t actually asked the girl whether she liked going to the Orange Bowl: he had asked whether she would like to go to the Orange Bowl, and she had said that she would love to! The frustration of having blown his chance at another date, he said, was only aggravated by the fact that he really liked that girl.
(As an aside, I speculate that the trauma associated with this incident might have driven Silva to become a consummate football fan: in the first lecture of his New Testament Introduction course, which as I have noted before is available for free from Westminster Audio Archive, he invites students to come to his office to discuss anything and everything—including, he said, the progress of the Miami Dolphins that year.)
The second anecdote is likewise romantic, and it takes us to the dining hall at Silva’s undergraduate institution sometime after the previously narrated events. It is perhaps not well known that our Infallible Hero attended Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist institution infamous for its various disciplinary strictures. One of these was the practice of rotating, assigned seating at the dining hall, which according to Silva, at least encouraged socialization. Well, one day it was time for everyone to assume their new seats according to the latest rotation, when the most “ineffably beautiful creature” the Infallible One had ever seen manifested herself before him. Within a couple of days he announced, halfway tongue-in-cheek and in front of everyone, that he would marry her—which surely did not make him sympathetic either to her or to her boyfriend back home. As it happened, however, her relationship back home ended some time later, and our Infallible Hero (in this regard more of an Average Romeo) decided to take up writing romantic notes to her. He was so persistent in this activity that he started to fear that he might be actually bothering her. So, naturally, he wrote another note to apologize. This is where he says that his Spanish let him down. As many of you may know, the Spanish verb for to bother is molestar, which led him to start of his note as follows: “I am very sorry that I keep molesting you…” Mercifully, neither this linguistic faux pas nor indeed his insistent note-writing caused a turn for the worse, and he happily married his wife Pat right out of college in 1966, which will make next year their 45th wedding anniversary.
One final, more sober note. In Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), while discussing reader-response approaches to biblical interpretation, Silva mentions the work of Cuban-American scholar Ada María Isasi-Díaz, as she “presents a moving account of her personal use of Psalm 137, which helped her deal with her grief as an exile from Cuba” (page 203). In a footnote, he comments: “Having been born and raised in Cuba myself, I can more than empathize with her struggles.” Silva left Cuba in 1960, which makes 2010 the 50th year of his exile. I cannot even begin to understand the pain of exile, much less a half century of it. I don’t know if he has ever been on Cuban soil since then, but if not, I hope that one day he can see Cuba again.