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A Legacy of Biblical Studies and Literacy

A Legacy of Biblical Studies and Literacy
Drs. Sigve and Serena Tonstad

- By Rathyna Krumme

Drs. Sigve and Serena Tonstad have a rich history with Loma Linda University Health. They each graduated from the School of Medicine in 1979. Sigve completed his training in Internal Medicine in 1989 and Serena completed her training in Preventive Medicine in 1990. However, their journey did not stop there. Serena completed a PhD in Lipid Research at the University of Oslo, and Sigve, who had done an MA in biblical studies while at LLU, did a PhD in New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. They returned to individual professorships in 2007 -Serena beginning her work with the School of Public Health to later become an adjunct professor at the School along with a career dedicated to the field of preventive cardiology with over 300 scientific publications and Sigve starting his work with the School of Religion in addition to part-work in the Endocrine Clinic at the Faculty Medical Offices, in that capacity as an assistant professor in the School of Medicine.

Both Drs. Tonstad are dedicated to expanding their students' and others' understanding of the Bible's lessons to teach us about today's challenges. Sigve devoted a good portion of his time to studying the problem of God's apparent absence from a biblical perspective as well as in human experience. His interest has led to a number of books, articles, and presentations. The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day (Andrews University Press, 2009) shows that the Sabbath mediates the divine commitment and is not solely a commandment. God of Sense and Traditions of Non-Sense (Wipf & Stock, 2016) is a post-Holocaust perspective on the reality of evil-with the Holocaust focusing the problem of God's apparent absence more acutely than anything else in history. The book explores how the Biblical story of cosmic conflict is relevant-and even essential-to understanding evil. Sigve has also published two commentaries on biblical books, The Letter to the Romans: Paul among the Ecologists (Sheffield Phoenix, 2017) and the Paideia New Testament Commentary on Revelation (Baker Academic, 2019). His writings explore a little-known truth that Paul's most famous letter includes a message of revelation and ecological healing, and that the Book of Revelation, regarded by many as a book that teaches divine retribution, presents the Bible's most compelling vision of healing.

With Dr. Tonstad's extensive publications and classes on the book of Romans to medical students and "Revelation: A Vision of Healing and Jesus the Revealer in the Gospel of John," which he taught to graduate students, the couple developed a deep connection to the School of Religion. Over time, this has led to the decision to support the School in a meaningful way. Their hope is the School of Religion will continue to stand by this kind of in-depth research and pursue the discovery of relevant truths for the current time.

"We believe the university needs endowments whenever and wherever possible. A tuition-based university is vulnerable and leaves less room for research and writing. Together, we have a vision of a school that ties the rest of the university together in a united effort to understand the Bible and what it means for us so many years after it was written. We also believe that a deeper understanding of Bible texts is continually helpful as research methods advance, just as knowledge does in other areas. The School of Religion embodies this effort by being based on scholarship, research and a belief that understanding where we come from helps us to bring healing to our broken lives," they shared.

The Tonstads chose to support the School of Religion through a bequest in their will. They wish to dedicate the resources entrusted to them by God to further the vision of healing that has been taught at Loma Linda University for decades. They hope their planned gift will create more space within the School of Religion to ensure a consistent standing for biblical studies in the curriculum across campus at a time when biblical literacy is in decline.

If you would like to learn more about how you can support an endowment through a planned gift, please contact the Office of Planned Giving at 909-558-4553 or legacy@llu.edu.


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