So much for mangoes, what about Melchizedek. Melchizedek is that guy who appears to Abraham in Genesis 14. In Psalm 110:4 God declares to the Messiah, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The writer of the Book of Hebrews takes up the challenge of explaining who this Melchizedek is. After three years in Africa, Rosa and I moved to Richmond, Virginia, where I did a Th.M. and a Ph.D. in Biblical studies at Union Theological Seminary. I was looking for a thesis topic–or, actually, I was looking for an advisor. I decided that Professor Mathias Rissi would be the best advisor for me. So I asked him to suggest a topic for my Th.M. thesis. He suggested that I compare Melchizedek in Hebrews 7 with 11QMelchizedek, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And so was born an interest in Melchizedek and a love for the book of Hebrews that came to fruition in my doctoral dissertation–“The Melchizedek Christology of Hebrews 7:1-25.”
Mangoes. It seemed fitting to begin this blog with “mangoes.” I don’t remember ever seeing a mango until I arrived in Sierra Leone, West Africa, September 2, 1969. Rosa and I had just been married on August 15. I’d been ordained to the ministry on August 17. Here we were in Sierra Leone. When we woke up the first morning in Freetown, we heard a child’s voice outside saying in Sierra Leonean Krio, “they done come from the United States of America.” By September 4 we were in the town of Kamakwie, about 175 miles from Freetown, in our house–which was in the middle of a mango grove. I would develop a love for those mangoes, and a love for the country where I first tasted them, the country of Sierra Leone.