Monday, September 19, 2022

David Lyle Jeffrey

David Lyle Jeffrey is a Canadian-born medievalist and scholar, living in Texas, who served as Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities at Baylor University for many years. He has authored numerous books relating to the Bible, history, art, and literature, and was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1996.

Besides serving at Baylor, Jeffrey has taught at numerous other schools including University of Ottawa, University of Rochester, University of Hull (UK), and University of Victoria. He has been a visiting professor for graduate programs at Regent College, The University of Notre Dame, The Institute for Christian Studies (University of Toronto), Peking University, and Adjunct Professor of Art History at Augustine College.

His recent books include In the Beauty of Holiness: Art and the Bible in Western Culture (2017, Eerdmans), and Scripture and the English Poetic Imagination (2019, Baker Academic), both of which consider understandings made possible by works of artistic imagination. He has also written two poetry collections, Translations, and his newest book A Testament of Witness (2022, Resource Publications).

As curator for the poetry for the Crossings Arts Exhibition ― which appeared in anticipation of Easter during March and April, 2022 ― I was pleased to have David Lyle Jeffery contribute a poem. Each poem accompanied a work of visual art, reflecting on the Biblical Stations of the Cross, found at outdoor displays in central Toronto. Here is a video of him reading his poem “Christ Crucified”.

The following poem is from A Testament of Witness.

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

So, a master of Torah, honored by the Council,
Need not apply? But a scoundrel like the tax collector
In your story, appearing contrite for his many sins—
His kind of outcast can inherit? Really, Rabbi,
This is outrageous, a calumny against heaven and Temple.
Who would want to be part of such a kingdom
If riff-raff the likes of that man were let in?
Such as they are poor in spirit for good reasons.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.