From Mangoes to Melchizedek

Melchizedek meeting Abraham

Melchizedek Meeting Abraham: A Window from Holy Trinity Church, St. Andrews, Scotland

“From Mangoes to Melchizedek” describes the path I have been called to follow as I have followed Jesus. “Mangoes” represents Sierra Leone, West Africa, the place to which God called me at the beginning of my ministry. Rosa had already served at Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital. After our marriage we returned to Kamakwie–she to the hospital, I to be a teacher at Kamakwie Secondary School. Our house was in the middle of a mango grove. I’ve loved mangoes ever since. We also love groundnut stew and plassas (for those of you who know what that is!). Next God led us to the academic halls of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia where I was privileged to write my Ph.D. dissertation on the Melchizedek Christology of Hebrews chapter seven. If “mangoes” represents Africa, then “Melchizedek” represents academia. “Melchizedek” represents my interest in the Bible, in the book of Hebrews, in the contemporary relevance of the Old Testament, and in the faithful interpretation of the Bible across cultures. This blog, then, is a place to discuss these issues–the unity of the Bible, its contemporary relevance, and proper principles for its interpretation, especially in cross-cultural settings. From time to time there will also be reminiscences from beloved Sierra Leone.


Gary has carried a passion to cultivate accurate and effective cross-cultural Biblical teaching since his college years. To that end he obtained a B.A. from Southern Wesleyan University, an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, and  Th.M. and Ph. D. in Biblical studies from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He and his wife, Rosa, served with Global Partners for 9 years in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Dr. Cockerill is widely recognized in academic circles as a significant and prolific scholar on the book of Hebrews. He taught graduate-level courses for 35 years before retiring as Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Biblical Theology from Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 30, 2017. He is also a Fellow of the Saint George Center for Biblical and Public Theology. He served as the New Testament editor for the Wesley Study Bible, but his primary focus has been on the book of Hebrews and the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.


Dr. Cockerill’s work has been published in The Journal of Biblical Literature, The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Bulletin for Biblical Research, Tyndale Bulletin, Evangelical Quarterly, Missiology, InterpretationBibliotheca Sacra, and the Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies. He has been actively involved in The Evangelical Theological Society, The Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society for Biblical Literature. He serves as co-chair of the Institute for Biblical Research’s Old Testament in the New Testament study group and is New Testament Editor for the forthcoming Evangelical Theological Society Dissertation Series. He is involved with the Seminar on Doctrine and Scripture and is an editor and contributor to a forthcoming volume produced by that seminar on divine action in Hebrews (Eisenbrauns).

He contributed a chapter “Melchizedek Without Speculation” to the The Theology of Hebrews in It’s Ancient Context as well as writing one of the views in The Four Views on the Warning Passages of Hebrews. In April, 2012 he published Hebrews (Eerdmans) in the New International commentary on the New Testament (NICNT).

Dr. Cockerill’s recent Christian Faith in the Old Testament: the Bible of the Apostles (Thomas Nelson, 2014), is the culmination of 35 years of study and medication on the unity of scripture. His hope is that this book will enable people around the world to understand the meaning of the Old Testament for Christians today.

Gary lives in Clinton, MS with his wife, Rosa, where they like to drink coffee, sit in their recliners, and go for walks. When he isn’t writing, speaking, or teaching, Gary enjoys spending time with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren… and eating Nutella on almost anything (or by itself)!

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