"God With Us:" The Theme of Divine Presence in Scripture

A National Conference in Honor of Dr. Gary Pratico

October 17-18, 2013  |  Hamilton, MA


Plenary Speakers  |  Workshop Speakers  |  Gary Pratico Worship  |  Schedule

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Thank you to everyone who attended the Divine Presence Conference. We hope you enjoyed the conference and we were blessed to worship and learn with you. Audio recordings will be available for purchase at our online store within two weeks. For more audio resources, visit us online at www.gordonconwellstore.org.

About the Conference Theme

The theme of divine presence, specifically God's presence on earth with his human creation, saturates the biblical story from its beginning to its end.  The theme is front and center in the earliest chapters of Genesis and finds its conclusion and consummation in the last chapters of Revelation. 

Divine presence is manifested in many ways.  It may be expressed with grammatical simplicity in a promise ("I will be with you") or in dynamic time and space realities that describe the relentless movement of redemption, by God's initiative, from heaven to earth. 

As Gary Pratico puts it, "The theology of divine presence is profoundly simple and yet it is simply profound. It is a topic of inquiry at the highest level of scholarship but, more importantly, it is a promise for everyday life and living. The reality of God's redemptive, sustaining presence in our lives is our source of hope, consolation and joy amidst the victories and trials of life.  We don't have to "go it" alone; he is with us. He is our Emmanuel."

Plenary Speakers

We are delighted to have the following plenary speakers for this conference. For more information about these leading scholars, click on their name to access their biography, plenary session titles and plenary session descriptions.

Douglas K. Stuart

Plenary 1: The Symbol Behind the Barrier: God's Gracious Limitation of His Presence

Douglas K. Stuart is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1964 Professor Stuart received the Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Harvard College. He spent two years in graduate study at Yale Divinity School, and then returned to Harvard University where he was awarded the Ph.D. degree in 1971. The subject of his thesis was Old Testament and early Semitic poetry.

Dr. Stuart is a scholar of the Old Testament, Assyrian and Babylonian languages and literature, and the cultures of the ancient Near East. He controls the use of 14 different languages, both ancient and modern. At Gordon-Conwell his courses include areas such as biblical languages, exegesis and interpretation; Old Testament survey and legal documents; and the historical, prophetical and poetical books. He also has authored articles in major journals, anthologies and magazines including How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, co-authored with Gordon Fee.

Plenary 1: The Symbol Behind the Barrier: God's Gracious Limitation of His Presence

"No one has ever seen God" (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12). But why? And why is his audible voice so rarely to be heard (Exod 20:9)? For what reason does God limit the sensory perception of himself by human beings at the present time? How do we benefit when God discloses himself via symbols, or sets barriers between us and himself? Why should we not have total free and full access to God now as we one day will have in heaven? Dr. Stuart's presentation shows how the current limits on divine presence are to be recognized as gifts of grace, not as denials of blessing.

Lawrence E. Stager

Plenary 2: "They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations" (Isa 66;3): Fresh Evidence for Phoenician Child Sacrifice

Lawrence E. Stager is Dorot Research Professor of the Archaeology of Israel at Harvard University and General Editor of Harvard Semitic Museum Publications. Dr. Stager received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. One of the world's foremost authorities in near Eastern archaeology, his writings have had profound influence in the field of biblical archaeology.

He was Director of the Carthage Excavations (1975-1980), Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum (1987-2012) and Director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon (1985-2012). The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon is one of the largest and lengthiest projects in Israel. The results of the dig are being collected and published in ten final report volumes published by the Harvard Semitic Museum.

Plenary 2: "They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations" (Isa 66;3): Fresh Evidence for Phoenician Child Sacrifice

The Canaanites, later known to the Greeks as Phoenicians, gave us the alphabet that we still use today.  They were also the cultural, and perhaps even biological, ancestors of the Israelites and neighboring peoples. According to the Classical and Biblical literary sources,  all of the West Semitic peoples offered burnt blood offerings, in whole or in part, to their respective deities. And among the sacrificial victims were children. Ritual infanticide has been the dominant explanation of the thousands of cinerary urns filled with the charred bones and ashes of human infants and other young cremated creatures, most commonly lambs.  More recently "revisionists," including archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists, have challenged this theory.  They argue that the cremation burials, found in special open-air precincts and excavated by the thousands in the Phoenician colonies, the largest and most notable being Carthage (in modern Tunisia), do not provide evidence of child sacrifice but rather of human infants who died of natural causes, were cremated, and given elaborate burial rites because their parents loved them so much.  The lambs were according to this theory, "grief" offerings to help usher the human infants into the next world.

In 1976-79 we excavated almost 450 cremation urns in the Carthage Precinct, also known as Tophet, named after the site on the south side of Jerusalem in the Ben Hinnom Valley.  There Jeremiah describes how the Judahites built "high places" and burned their children as holocausts to the Canaanite god Ba`al  (Jer. 19:5).  At Carthage the cinerary urns, dating from before 800 BC to 146 BC, sometimes had monuments still standing above the urn.  When inscribed in Phoenician/Punic, they often mention the divine name (either the god Ba`al Hammon alone [identified with El or Cronus/Saturn of the Greeks] or with the Phoenician goddess Tanit [identified with Astarte]), the dedication ("vow," Semitic ndr], the dedicant's name, and the recognition that the deity heard and granted the request--clearly evidence that the Carthaginians and other Phoenicians thought that they had experienced the "divine presence," as recorded in their own words.  Recent attempts to belittle and dismiss Biblical and Classical sources as tendentious propaganda to malign the Phoenicians seems to be contradicted by the epigraphic evidence they themselves provided on their monuments and their self-understanding that they had experienced the "divine presence" through their entreaty, vow, and burnt offering.  As I hope to demonstrate in my lecture that takes into account the literary, epigraphic, archaeological, and the most recent osteological analyses of the cremation urn contents from the Tophet at Carthage, the revisionist theory of this being a cemetery of children who died from natural causes cannot withstand the weight of the new forensic evidence and deserves the cut of Occam's razor.

It is with great pleasure I note that some of this archaeological evidence was excavated and recorded back in 1976-78 by Area Supervisor, now Professor, Gary Pratico, our honoree at this conference.

James K. Hoffmeier

Plenary 3: Divine Presence and Absence in the Book of Jeremiah

James K. Hoffmeier is Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Hoffmeier, who was born in Egypt and lived there until age sixteen, returns often for research and excavation. In 1975-77 he worked with the Akhenaten Temple Project in Luxor. He served from 1980 to 1999 as Professor of Archaeology and Old Testament at Wheaton College, and was chairman of Wheaton's Department of Biblical, Theological, Religious and Archaeological Studies from 1992 to 1998. From 1996 to 1999 he was also director of the Wheaton Archaeology Program.

Dr. Hoffmeier has appeared in and consulted for TV programs for Discovery, History and Learning Channels, and National Geographic. His present work in the threatened areas of northern Sinai (North Sinai Archaeological Project) grew out of an appeal by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. He is involved in theological education internationally and has been active locally as a church planter, elder, teacher and preacher.

Plenary 3: Divine Presence and Absence in the Book of Jeremiah

An enduring theme throughout the Old Testament is the presence of God, often express by “I will be with you” that is first found in the patriarchal narratives.  In Jeremiah’s call, God uses a variation on this express to signal God’s presence in the life and ministry of the young prophet (Jer. 1:8).  After the intimate and personal call, the language of divine presence becomes more subtle.  In this study, one will attempt to ferret out the various expressions and motifs of presence in the book of Jeremiah.  Along with divine presence, its antithesis, absence and abandonment will also be investigated.  In essence what we find is a tension between divine presence and absence in this prophetic book.

Donna L. Petter

Plenary 4: "And they shall know that I am the Lord:" The Restoration of Yahweh's Presence in Ezekiel


Donna L. Petter is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Director of the Hebrew Language Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Petter brings to Gordon-Conwell more than 20 years of extensive classroom experience, having taught biblical studies on four continents. She has also contributed to various Old Testament publications, including Vetus Testamentum and the Dictionary of the O.T. Historical Books (IVP).

Her research interests include Biblical Hebrew grammar and syntax, Hebrew exegesis, women in the Bible, and Ancient Near Eastern religions. Dr. Petter’s doctoral dissertation, The Book of Ezekiel and Mesopotamian City Laments in the Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis series, was published by Academic Press Fribourg and Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Göttingen and compares the book of Ezekiel with ancient Mesopotamian lament literature. She has also published a commentary on Ruth in the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary (Baker, 2012) and is currently writing a commentary on Ezra for the New International Version Application Commentary series.

Plenary 4: "And they shall know that I am the Lord:" The Restoration of Yahweh's Presence in Ezekiel

Divine presence is most notably associated with the vision at the end of the book when Yahweh’s glory returns to a new temple (Ezek 43:1-9). The return of the deity to his shrine is part of Ezekiel’s larger program of restoration intended to give hope (Ezek 40-48). The return is, likewise, understood as a reversal of divine abandonment so dramatically depicted in an earlier vision (Ezek 8-11). But both the abandonment and return of Yahweh to his earthly shrine are features typically found in Mesopotamian City Lament literature. Compelling comparative evidence reveals that the city lament genre is reflected in the book of Ezekiel and was used as a matrix for its compilation. Thus the biblical-theological implications of connecting divine presence/absence in Ezekiel to this lament genre are far reaching from a pastoral and preaching perspective.

Gregory K. Beale

Plenary 6: Eden, the Temple and the Church's Mission in the New Creation

Gregory K. Beale is Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has also taught at Grove City College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Wheaton College Graduate School. Dr. Beale is ordained by the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Institute for Bible Research, Studiorum Novi Testamenti Soceitas, the Society of Biblical Literature and Tyndale Fellowship.

Dr. Beale has written many books including A New Testament Biblical Theology (Baker) and commentaries on Revelation and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He is the co-editor of the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Baker) with D.A. Carson which won awards including the Academic Book of the Year by the Association of Theological Booksellers in 2008.

Plenary 6: Eden, the Temple and the Church's Mission in the New Creation

In this address, Dr. Beale will show that Rev. 21:1-22:5 equates the initial vision of a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1) with a city in the shape of a temple, which is garden-like.  This is a strange equation.  The reason for this bizarre equation lies in the Old Testament, especially in Genesis 1-3.  There Eden is portrayed as a garden-temple, and Adam was a priest who was reflect God's glory and was to expand (along with his progeny) the borders of Eden (and hence the glorious presence of God there) until it covered the whole earth.  Then the whole creation would be a garden temple.  Later Old Testament texts show that Israel's temple was modeled on Eden to indicate that Israel's task was to be a corporate Adam, which was to carry out the task in which the first Adam failed.  The glorious presence of God was to expand from Israel's garden-temple to cover the city of Jerusalem, then the promised land, and finally all of the earth.  Thus, this Old Testament background explains why Rev. 21:1-22:5 equates the initial vision of a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1) with a city in the shape of a temple, which is garden-like. Israel also failed in her task. Jesus Christ, the Last Adam and true Israel began to fulfill this commission in Himself and His people. The main point of this address is that our task as a Church is to be God’s temple, so filled with his glorious presence as His image-bearers that we expand and fill the earth with that presence until God and Christ finally accomplish the goal completely at the end of time!

Gordon P. Hugenberger

Plenary 7: Gideon and Divine Absence


Gordon P. Hugenberger is Senior Minister at Park Street Church in Boston, MA and Ranked Adjunct Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has taught Hebrew, Akkadian and a variety of Old Testament exegesis courses at Gordon-Conwell South Hamilton since his graduation from there in 1974. At the same time, he has been actively involved in pastoral ministry, serving for 23 years at Lanesville Congregational Church in Gloucester, MA, and for the past 11 years as the senior pastor of historic Park Street Church in downtown Boston.

Dr. Hugenberger is a prolific author, having written dozens of articles. He is also a frequent speaker at venues such as the Salvation Army, Harvard University, the New England Christian Fellowship and MIT. His B.A. degree in engineering and applied physics and his ongoing interest in science have allowed him to speak occasionally on the relationship between science and faith. Other topics on which he has spoken and written include marriage as a covenant, redemptive history and Malachi. His scholarly interests include biblical theology, Old Testament law and ethics and Hebrew grammar.

Plenary 7: Gideon and Divine Absence

Gideon struggled with an apparent “divine absence” in his day: “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13). In this session we will address the topic of “Divine Absence” by one who was expecting and desperately needing Divine Presence, based on a careful analysis of the Gideon narrative.

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Workshop Speakers

There will be one workshop session during the conference. All workshops will be recorded and available for purchase after the conference. For more information about our distinguished speakers, click on their name for their biography, workshop title and workshop description.

Carol Kaminski

Title: The Divine Presence in Judgment: Interpreting the Sodom Narrative in the Context of the Book of Genesis


Carol Kaminski is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Carol M. Kaminski has taught Old Testament and Hebrew language courses at the Boston and South Hamilton campuses of Gordon-Conwell since joining the seminary faculty in 2002. She is a member of the Institute for Biblical Research, the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature.

Her dissertation has been published by T&T Clark, entitled, From Noah to Israel: Realization of the Primaeval Blessing After the Flood, and she is currently writing a book entitled Was Noah Good? Finding Favor in the Flood Narrative, which examines the role of divine favor in the Flood Story. Dr. Kaminski has also created an Old Testament Timeline, titled CASKET EMPTY: God's Plan of Redemption Through History and has written a companion text, Old Testament Reader's Guide, which are part of the CASKET EMPTY Bible Series (www.casketempty.com). She speaks at conferences and retreats, focusing on in-depth biblical teaching for laity.

Title: The Divine Presence in Judgment: Interpreting the Sodom Narrative in the Context of the Book of Genesis

In this workshop, Dr. Kaminski will discuss the role of the divine presence in the Sodom narrative (Gen. 18-19). God's role as judge of the nations, the sin of the Sodomites, and the role of divine blessing through Abraham will be considered, with emphasis on interpreting the narrative in the context of Genesis. The significance of this story for our current context will also be explored.

Catherine McDowell

Title: The Presence of God in the Garden of Eden


Catherine McDowell is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She comes to Gordon-Conwell from Wheaton College in Illinois, where she also taught Old Testament. Her teaching experience includes former positions at Gordon-Conwell and Harvard. As a graduate teaching fellow at Harvard, she taught classical Hebrew, Ancient Near Eastern history and archaeology.

Dr. McDowell has also been active in church ministry, teaching adult education courses in Old Testament and Bible study methodology for Park Street Church in Boston and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. For a number of years, she worked in the field at archaeological digs in Israel. Her writings include articles in publications as the Basics of Biblical Hebrew textbook, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and the Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research.

Title: The Presence of God in the Garden of Eden

Gen 1:26-27 describes humankind as created in the image and likeness of God. Although these terms are not repeated in Genesis 2, the Eden story (Gen 2:5-3:24) may reflect an awareness of an ancient set of rituals, known to us from Egypt and Mesopotamia, by which a statue (an image) was believed to be “ritually transformed” into a divine manifestation. If so, Gen 2 may be responding to widely held and deeply entrenched views on some of the most pressing issues of its day - creation, idolatry, and the divine-human relationship. This talk will focus on the latter  -  how does Gen 2-3 frame the divine-human relationship? The answer is crucial to understanding our own relationship to God, both individually and corporately.

Jeffrey Niehaus

Title:  The Holy Spirit, Divine Presence and God's Anointing of Pagans with Authority 


Jeffrey Niehaus is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Niehaus, who joined Gordon-Conwell in 1982, holds his Ph.D. in English literature. He brings to the study of the Old Testament a broad background in literary studies and extensive research in Ancient Near Eastern milieus. In addition to teaching, Dr. Niehaus ministers and lectures in various churches on such topics as spiritual warfare and gifts of the Holy Spirit.He regularly presents papers on higher critical issues and Ancient Near Eastern backgrounds at scholarly conferences, such as the annual Old Testament Lecture at the Tyndale Fellowship in Cambridge, England. Dr. Niehaus’ scholarly interests include biblical theology and the idea of covenant and covenant schemes in the Bible.

Title: The Holy Spirit, Divine Presence and God's Anointing of Pagans with Authority

This seminar will explore the role of the Holy Spirit - the presence of God - in the realm of common grace, specifically with regard to his anointing for rule. Examples to be considered include Elijah's commission to anoint Hazael king of Damascus in 1 Kings 19, the Lord's anointin of Cyrus, to whom he refers as his "Messiah" in Isaiah 45, and the more generally stated principle of imperial authority devolved from heaven in Romans 13. The chief issue to be considered is the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit in both empowering and guiding governing authorities who do not even know God.

Alvin Padilla

Title: The Divine Presence While Dwelling in Satan's Stronghold" (Re 2.12)


Alvin Padilla is Professor of New Testament and Dean of Hispanic Ministries at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Padilla came to Gordon-Conwell after five years of teaching Biblical Studies at Nyack College. Prior to that, he founded and taught at the Spanish Eastern School of Theology in Swan Lake, NY, for seven years. He has also served as pastor of the Fort Washington Heights Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in New York City, a Spanish-speaking congregation. In his work as Dean of the Boston program, he oversees the educational programs of CUME and the emerging programs in downtown Boston, including Masters and Doctor of Ministry degrees. Dr. Padilla is an ordained minister in the PCUSA. He holds professional memberships in the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Asociacion para la Educacion Teologica Hispana.

Title: The Divine Presence While Dwelling in Satan's Stronghold" (Re 2.12)

The oft-mentioned divine promise, "I will be with you," leads some to believe that life should be lived in a "spiritual high." Who wouldn't want to experience the divine encounters with God such as those shared by Noah, Abraham, Moses, among others--encounters that forever changed their relationships with the Almighty. Often, the focus on these divine encounters results in a "triumphant" mentality that goes against the experience of many Christians who suffer because of their faith in Christ. The Apocalypse goes against that perspective in that it emphasizes the divine presence precisely during times that seem to belie the divine promise. In this workshop, we will offer a glimpse of the Apocalypse in light of the colonized-conqueror reality of the first century and how that informs how Christians walk today. In particular we will explore a reading of the book that will seek to enable women and men to live faithfully even while dwelling in Satan's stronghold.

Christine Palmer

Title: God Dwelling with His People: Israel's High Priest as Living Sacrifice

Christine Palmer is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell and is a Ph.D. candidate in Bible and Ancient Near East at Hebrew Union College. She has contributed articles on Israelite religion and culture to several publications, including the Archaeological Study Bible and New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. In addition to teaching at the University of Cincinnati, Christine has been involved with seminary training in her home country of Greece.

Title: God Dwelling with His People: Israel's High Priest as Living Sacrifice

At the heart of God’s dwelling with his people is the offering of a substitutionary sacrifice. This workshop explores how the life and ministry of Israel’s high priest anticipates the sacrifice of the Son of God. The priest serves at the altar as a sin-bearer and “living” sacrifice, foreshadowing that one day he who offers sacrifice will himself be the sacrifice.

Jay Sklar

Title: The Divine Presence in Exodus to Numbers: A Call to Covenant Faithfulness and to Courage


Jay Sklar is Professor of Old Testament and Dean of Faculty at Covenant Theological Seminary. B.A. University of Waterloo (Canada); M.Div., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; Ph.D., The University of Gloucestershire (England). Dr. Sklar has been teaching at Covenant since the fall of 2001. His research interests have focused on the book of Leviticus, on which he has just finished a commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series, IVP). He met his wife Carolyn in the library at Gordon-Conwell (and to this day encourages all of his single students to study hard). Jay and Carolyn live in St. Louis.

Title: The Divine Presence in Exodus to Numbers: A Call to Covenant Faithfulness and to Courage

For the Israelites, the divine presence was not a theological abstraction but a present-day reality with radical implications for daily living. King Yahweh was now in their midst and his presence was a clarion call to faithfulness in covenant living and to courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Christians today can resonate deeply with this: King Jesus now dwells in our midst by his Spirit and calls us to the same type of covenant faithfulness and courage. The question for us, as for Israel, is whether we will heed this call or not.

Miles Van Pelt

Title: The Crisis of Divine Presence: A Biblical Theology

Miles Van Pelt is the Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Academic Dean for the Jackson campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. He has a deep commitment to and passion for teaching students the Bible in its original languages. He is the co-author of Basics of Biblical Hebrew: Grammar (Zondervan, 2001), and has published extensively in the area of Hebrew and Aramaic language instruction. At the RTS campus in Jackson, Dr. Van Pelt teaches Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew Exegesis, Genesis to Deuteronomy, Introduction to Biblical Theology, and courses in the books of Judges and The Song of Songs. He is also on the pastoral staff of Grace Reformed Church in Madison, Mississippi. He and his wife Laurie have been married for over 20 years and they have four children at home.

Title: The Crisis of Divine Presence: A Biblical Theology

The covenant formula, "I will be your God and you will be my people," begs the question, how can our holy God dwell among his sinful people without the latter experiencing wrath and complete destruction? In this workshop, we will examine this crisis of divine presence, its solution, and then its eschatological resolution from a biblical-theological perspective. Programmatic texts will include Genesis 3 and 15, Exodus 17 and 32-34, Isaiah 7 and 43 and Revelation 21 and 22.


John Jefferson Davis

Plenary 8:  Panelist

John Jefferson Davis is Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has served at Gordon-Conwell South Hamilton since 1975. An active member of both the local and broader community, he has taken leadership roles in various organizations relating to children and families. These leadership roles have included serving as chairman of the Board of Directors of Birthright of Greater Beverly, MA; as a member of the Board of Directors of the Value of Life Committee, and as the Massachusetts delegate to the White House Conference on Families. His scholarly interests include the theology and practice of worship and liturgy, the relationship of Christian faith and modern science, Trinitarian theology and the theology of the Holy Spirit. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister and he and his wife, Robin, have five children and live in Hamilton, MA.

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Gary Pratico

Dr. Pratico, who joined Gordon-Conwell in 1982, teaches, researches and writes extensively in the areas of Old Testament studies, Biblical Hebrew and ancient Near Eastern history. For the past 25 years, he has also been involved with biblical and field archaeology, including participating in or leading excavations at sites in the central Mediterranean and Middle East. These sites have included Carthage, Tell el-Kheleifeh, Cyprus, Jordan, the Negev and Israel.

He has also traveled extensively throughout Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Greece and directed dozens of archaeological study tours of Israel, Jordan and Egypt for the seminary, area churches and parachurch organizations. He served for more than 15 years as Curator of Archaeological Collections at the Semitic Museum of Harvard University, which houses material from the Old and New Testament periods. He has also lectured extensively in regional churches on archaeology and biblical studies.

Dr. Pratico has co-authored numerous articles with Gordon-Conwell President Emeritus Dr. Robert E. Cooley on the western cemetery at Tell Dothan and has published many articles on topics concerning biblical and Ancient Near Eastern studies.

Dr. Pratico’s scholarly interests include art and architecture in the Ancient Near East, Syro-Palestinian and Ancient Near Eastern archaeology, biblical theology and historical geography. His most recent research has been focused on the theology of the divine presence as the unifying theme of biblical revelation, and he continues to pursue his publishing interests in the study of Biblical Hebrew.

If you would like to leave a note for Dr. Pratico about a memory, story or words of thanks, please submit a story here!

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Worship is an integral part of this conference. Through times of singing and reflection we are able to join together in worship of God and remain focused on the One who deserves all our praise.


David Shorey is Director of Support Services at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. For over 30 years he has held organist, worship leader, and Minister of Music positions in churches in New England and the Midwest.  David currently serves as part of the music ministry at First Congregational Church of Essex, MA.



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Please note that although unlikely, the schedule may be subject to change. Registration will take place in the Kaiser Chapel Lobby and all plenary sessions will take place in the Kaiser Chapel. See "Conference Details" below for maps of our campus.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.

11:00a.m.-12:00 p.m.

12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.


2:30 - 3:00 p.m.

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

4:00 - 4:30 p.m.

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.


5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

7:00 - 7:30 p.m.

7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Conference Registration


Plenary 1: Douglas Stuart
The Symbol Behind the Barrier: God's Gracious Limitation of His Presence


Plenary 2: Lawrence Stager
"They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations" (Isa 66:3): Fresh Evidence for Phoenician Child Sacrifice


Plenary 3: James Hoffmeier
Divine Presence and Absence in the Book of Jeremiah


Plenary 4: Donna Petter
"And they shall know that I am the Lord:" The Restoration of Yahweh's Presence in Ezekiel



Plenary 5: Gary Pratico
Reflections on the Theme of Divine Presence and the Church

Friday, October 18, 2013

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.


12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

2:30 - 3:00 p.m.

3:00 - 3:30 p.m.

3:30 - 4:30 p.m.


Plenary 6: Gregory Beale
Eden, the Temple and the Church's Mission in the New Creation




Plenary 7: Gordon Hugenberger
Gideon and Divine Absence



Plenary 8: Q&A Panel with Thomas Petter (moderator), Gary Pratico,
Gregory Beale, Carol Kaminski, Gordon Hugenberger, Douglas Stuart and John Jefferson Davis

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Conference Details


The registration cost for the conference includes the registration, handouts, and snacks. The cost per individual for the conference is $155 until September 18, 2013, $165 until October 9, 2013 and $165 without the meal option after October 9, 2013. Spouse, alumni and group rates of $135 are available for the conference until October 9, 2013. 

Meal packages of $30 are available for the conference and include 2 lunches and 1 dinner. A meal package must be purchased in order to attend the Alumni Lunch on Friday of the conference. Meal packages will not be sold after October 9, 2013.

All group registrations must be submitted together (paper or online) to qualify for the group rate unless otherwise instructed by the Ockenga Institute. Special rates for the Gordon-Conwell community (faculty/staff/students) are also available until October 4, 2013.

One-day rates are also available but without the meal option.

Time, Location, Maps:

The conference will be held in the Academic Center and Kaiser Chapel of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA. Registration will be held in the Goddard Library Lobby. Please see the above schedule for specific times for registration and sessions.

Click on the links below for maps of our campus:

Confirmation and Cancellations:

You may consider your cancelled check or credit card statement to be confirmation of your registration. Event tickets will not be mailed. Online registrations will receive an email confirmation. Because of the planning involved with the conference, please note the following dates involving registration cancellations.

  • Cancellations must be received by September 18, 2013 to receive a full refund, less a $10 processing fee.
  • Cancellations made by October 2, 2013 will be refunded 50%.
  • Cancellations after October 2, 2013 will not be refunded.

Conference Lodging & Transportation:

Conference guests are expected to provide their own lodging and transportation for the duration of the conference.  Room blocks have been made at the following hotels, however are not guaranteed after the dates listed. The group rate will then be offered on a space- and rate-available basis.  Participants must arrange their own accommodations. 
  • Comfort Inn ($85/night plus tax) guaranteed until September 16, 2013
    50 Dayton Street, Danvers, MA 01923
    (978) 777-1700
    Request "Gordon-Conwell" room block
  • SpringHill Suites ($139/night plus tax) guaranteed until September 23, 2013
    43 Newbury Street (US 1 North), Peabody, MA 01960
    (888) 287-9400 or (978) 535-5000
    Request "Divine Presence Conference" room block
Gordon-Conwell is near commuter rail stops, however, you must find transportation from the train stop to campus. The closest commuter rail stops are on the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line at North Beverly or Hamilton/Wenham. Click here for a link to the MBTA and the train schedule.


Take Rte. 128 North (toward Gloucester) to Exit 17 (Grapevine Road). Turn left off of the exit ramp and continue past Gordon College. Take your first right onto Rte. 22 (Rubbly Road). Turn left at the first stop sign (Essex Street). The entrance to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary will be 200 yards ahead on the right. Follow the “Conference” and "Event Parking" signs. For more specific directions click here.

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Registration may be completed online or with mail-in registration. Please note that all mail-in registrations must be postmarked by October 4, 2013 to be accepted.

Registration is CLOSED for this event.

Exhibitors and Sponsors

We are excited to partner with your organization for this conference. This partnership may take many forms such as a Conference Sponsor, having an Exhibit Booth displaying your product, or placing an ad in our conference notebook. Please download our Exhibitor Packet for more information and packages offered for the conference. To participate with your organization for this conference, please fill out and submit the last page of the Exhibitor Packet and mail to the following address or email to ockenga@gcts.edu.

Ockenga Institute, GCTS
Divine Presence Conference, Exhibitor
130 Essex Street
S. Hamilton, MA 01982

Print Materials

We have promotional materials available for you to download. Feel free to print these out and share with your church and friends.

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All of the conference audio for this conference as well as past conferences sponsored by the Shoemaker Center of the Ockenga Institute may be purchased online at our online store. If you have questions about other audio resources available through the Ockenga Institute, visit us on iTunesU or email us.

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Conference Sponsors

This conference has been a joint effort between the Division of Bibilical Studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the Shoemaker Center for Church Renewal of the Ockenga Institute of Gordon-Conwell.

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