Introducing: International Moisés Silva Day

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 everythingincluding, 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 herwhich 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.

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16 responses to “Introducing: International Moisés Silva Day

  1. Happy Birthday to the infallible one and thanks for this post. It’s nice to be reminded that our heroes are human and have a very real personal life that is for the most part hidden from us. May the Lord bless him with many more years and to one day see his native Cuba again.

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  2. May God hear you, Louis!

    And you will want to look at the post again — I found an audio link to Silva’s sermon! I l just finished listening to it again, and corrected a couple of inaccuracies in my retelling of the stories.

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  3. Oh man, that apology note story is priceless! Thanks for that! A laugh before church is always nice. And to echo Louis, happy birthday to the Infallible One and may the Lord bless him with many more years and to one day see his native Cuba again.

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  4. I did not read this until our return from church this morning! What a delightful treat to meet me on the computer. How is it that we have been blessed to know one of such royalty? (And to think we are actually friends with one so lofty in his position in this life!)
    This truly is priceless-thanks for sharing!

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  5. Nick> Glad you enjoyed it! :-)

    Sharon> What a great privilege you have! You are able to hear infallible oracles every time you’re just visiting with friends. I don’t know why it is that you have been granted such great favor, but I hope that, since you now know the truth of the matter, you will approach the Infallible One with reverential fear. Be aware, of course, that if asked about his infallibility, he will likely deny it; I have explained this phenomenon earlier. But you must press on to obtain the honey of wisdom dripping from his mouth — and if possible, jot it all down and pass it along to the rest of us who are not so privileged! ;-)

    Seriously though, thank for commenting! I’m delighted that you found your way here.

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  6. Wow, I’m all for another paid holiday. Moises Silva Day has a nice ring to it. And such credentials. Here I thought his specialty was sampling the finer restraunts in our neck of the wood. Happy Birthday Mose – may God grant you with many more years of good health and a clear mind :-)

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  7. Brent> I must admit that, had I acted sooner, it is likely that all of us could have enjoyed a 4-day weekend (since, of course, International Moisés Silva Day would have been observed on Friday for work purposes). Perhaps we can get the competent authorities in your neck of the woods to officially proclaim September 4 as Moisés Silva Day next year! ;-)

    If sampling fine restaurants is what our Infallible Hero likes, you must inform him that people all over the world come to Frankenmuth, Michigan, to eat chicken at Zehnder’s. I have seen chartered buses with tourists from Japan. I would only appreciate to be informed when he will be in the vicinity so that I can bring along a stack of books for signing, which he can do while I bathe his feet with my tears and dry them with my hair. (Oh, I guess I’d also have to grow out my hair.)

    Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  8. How could I have completely missed such an incredible day as the one that has just silently passed me by? I am totally embarrassed that I have over looked this special milestone in my esteemed colleague’s life. When I recall the many times of collaboration on the adult ss class here at First Baptist, I am appalled with myself in that I have failed to commemorate this highly emotional and blessed holiday. Please forgive me my dear friend of my gross oversight. May you have many happy returns.
    Sincerely

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  9. Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite professors from Gordon-Conwell days. I also had the privilege of serving as his teaching assistant. Here’s wishing him a belated happy birthday.

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  10. Carl> This entire blog has been a three-year long exercise in highlighting the excellencies of our Infallible Hero, and this it will continue to be for as long as I write it! :-)

    Glad you found your way here!

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  11. Greetings! Funny post. I always enjoy reading your stuff, Esteban. I am actually reading Silva’s intro to Hermeneutics co-authored with Kaiser. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find some audio lectures by Silva on the subject of Hermeneutics do you? I like to supplement my reading with lectures of possible.

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  12. Shawn, my friend! Glad you enjoyed the post, and good to hear from you. :-)

    Actually, there’s a set of five class lectures by Silva on the subject of General Hermeneutics; these are available in CD format from the Westminster Bookstore for $25. Unfortunately, while several of Silva’s other lectures have been made available for free either through iTunes or through the Westminster Media website, these ones you still have to purchase.

    Well, I hope that helps!

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  13. I was in his New Testament class and remember him in the ’70s with jet-black hair and his signature tightly clipped moustache. Distinguised even then. So glad to see this post for him. I also remember he and another professor (Dr. Guthrie???) and how as 2 strong, powerful men of faith had radically views and engaged in mental and philosophical debates on deep matters of faith. Suffice it to say, they were not always of the same opinion. :) Yet, each remaining strong men of God. Moisés has influenced 100’s of students’ lives and no doubt countless 10’s of 1000’s of lives through his works – both written and spoken.

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