Robert Allan Hill
- Dean of Marsh Chapel, Chaplain to the University, Professor of New Testament and Pastoral Theology
- Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave
- (617) 353-3560
- PhD in New Testament, McGill University
MDiv, Union Theological Seminary (NYC)
BA, Ohio Wesleyan University
Robert Allan Hill teaches in the areas of New Testament and Pastoral Theology. Since 1981 he has taught in several schools including McGill University, Syracuse University, Lemoyne College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Northeastern Seminary, United Seminary, and various church settings. His passionate interest lies at the intersection of Scripture and life, especially in the work of preaching. Hence his research has combined publication related to the Gospel of John and Gnosticism, on the one hand, and preaching in ministry, on the other. For example, An Examination and Critique of the Understanding of the Relationship between Apocalypticism and Gnosticism in Johannine Studies appeared in 1997, and The Courageous Gospel in 2013, while Snow Day: Reflections on the Practice of Ministry in the Northeast was published in 2000 and Renewal: Thought, Word, and Deed in 2009 (see below). Most of his writing, however, has been devoted to weekly sermons, over thirty five years, in ten pulpits, some of which are collected, taped and published. Hill has taught Greek, New Testament, Preaching, the Practice of Ministry, Church Administration, and other courses. His perspective on pastoral theology focuses on the special needs of the church in the Northeastern USA in the 21st Century. Publications in these areas include Renewal: Thought, Word, and Deed (2009), Seeing with the Heart: Devotions from Marsh Chapel (2010), and Prophetic Protestant Sermons on America’s War in Iraq: Marsh Chapel, Boston University (2010) , and three other collections of sermons and devotions. (Dean Hill’s eleven books may also be purchased through the Marsh Chapel office for $10 each). In addition, he has written or co-authored and published a number of articles, chapters, sermons and essays, which are listed in the resume.
At Boston University School of Theology, Hill teaches one course in New Testament each year (usually fall term, and usually the Gospel of John), and one course in Pastoral Theology each year (usually spring term, and usually a course in Preaching or Pastoral Leadership). A two-credit course for undergraduates of Boston University, on ‘Vocation’, is in the planning stages. The course on John differs from some other studies of Johannine literature in that it strongly, equally relies both on the Jewish background to the gospel (from Hill’s study at Union/NYC with J.L. Martyn and R.E. Brown) and on the Hellenistic (Gnostic?) background to the gospel (from Hill’s study at McGill with F. Wisse and N.T.Wright.). Hill has recently published a book on John, The Courageous Gospel: John in Sermon, Lecture, Essay and Discussion, copies of which in rough form were used in the course. Two collections of sermons, A Village Green, and, In the Depths of the Depression were published in 2011.
Dean Hill’s religious leadership at Boston University, across all of the 17 schools and colleges and the larger community, is rooted and grounded in the historic pulpit of Marsh Chapel, whose Sunday service is broadcast on NPR each Sunday morning at 11am (WBUR 90.9FM), with a listenership of 75,000, and another 25,000 listening by podcast. As Dean of the Chapel, he preaches most Sundays, leads the Marsh staff (40 full- and part-time persons in the areas of ministry, music and hospitality), gives oversight to all University religious life (7 University Chaplains, 26 religious life groups, and several campus ministers), provides prayers for various all University events (Commencement, Matriculation, other), meets with the Deans’ Council and University Leadership Group, and guides pastoral care for the community, through the chaplains’ offices. In recent years some BUSTH students have chosen to do their field work at Marsh (so, 5 in 2007, 3 in 2008, 7 in 2009, 1 in 2010, and similar number since then). Marsh Chapel hosts 16 weekly worship services, one of which is the BUSTH led Wednesday 11:15am service. About 2,500 people a week, during the school year, are present for worship, study or service in the chapel building. For more information, visit the Chapel website.
Bob Hill has been preaching since 1976. As an elder (Upper New York Conference) in the United Methodist Church he has had experience in ten local churches, five different annual conferences, multiple annual conference board assignments, General and Jurisdictional Conference participation, General Board membership (GBHEM), various speaking engagements, and denominational leadership discussions. His views of the present condition of the church, particularly in the Northeast, and prospects for ministry into the future, have provided a complementary perspective to that of some recent Northeastern UMC denominational leadership. His main denominational interests have been in Large Church ministry and Theological Education. Dr. Hill was given the Harry Denman Award for Evangelism in 2003. Currently, he serves on the Board of the New England Annual Conference United Methodist Foundation, the Board of Visitors of the Learning Project Elementary School (Back Bay, Boston), the Board of Visitors of Harvard Memorial Church, and the Board of Ministry of Harvard College. He is an active member of the Boston Ministers’ Club and the New Haven Theological Discussion Group, and an inactive Rotarian. He loves sports, and played basketball and soccer at the high school and college levels. His wife Jan is a musician and teacher, whose children’s choir sings regularly in Boston, most notably once a year in early May on the steps of Trinity Church, Copley Square. Bob and Jan are joggers, and spend summers on a lake in upstate New York. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.