I asked Dr. Kapic to use a six-word story to describe his sabbatical:
When I caught up with him last week, Kapic talked about how much of his semester thus far has been spent on numerous editing and writing projects, which can be isolating.
“One of the things that is sometimes difficult about sabbaticals is that you’re with your thoughts, you’re with your ideas, you’re trying to make progress, and so lots of self-doubt can come in. So actually, there’s a different kind of exhaustion that can come with it,” Kapic said.
There is generally a misunderstanding about what exactly a sabbatical is, according to Kapic. The term does come from the idea of Sabbath, or rest, but he says in academia it is “a cessation one kind of work in order to do another.” Often, professors take sabbatical in order to do more research and writing, prepare for a class they have never taught, or get caught up on some of the literature in their field. This is especially important at a place like Covenant that tends to be a teaching-heavy institution.
This semester, Kapic is still working for Covenant; he is just not teaching. Given his more flexible sabbatical semester, he has been able to write and speak more than normal. He recently got back from an academic conference in the Netherlands memorializing the 400th anniversary of John Owens’ birth where he was invited to be a plenary speaker. There were academics there from all over the world: Indonesia, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, and Poland were but a few of the countries represented there. Kapic and a Dutch theologian are now working on the possibility of a book on Owen’s place between “Orthodoxy and Modernity,” the theme of the conference.
This semester Kapic also was invited to be part of a small symposium hosted by an Anglican Cathedral in the US. They invited four Reformed and four Lutheran theologians to discuss and debate the relationship between “law and Gospel.” Kapic said it was incredible to sit around a table for two and a half days genuinely learning from each other, but also discovering real differences between these two great Reformation traditions. A book will also be written and published about the discussion held between the theologians, highlighting where the traditions agree and where they diverge.
Other than writing chapters for each of these publications, Kapic is also finishing up a couple of book projects of his own. One that is coming out in June is on suffering, and the other one is called Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition, which he has been working on for over half a decade. These two will add to the ten or eleven books he has already published.
The sabbaticals he has taken in the past and the research and writing he does “pretty profoundly affects” the way he teaches.
“All this stuff totally influences how I think about what I’m talking about in doctrine. I’ll inevitably bring in stuff I’m working on in terms of my lectures or whatever upper-division class I’m thinking about,” he said.
Kapic has also submitted a grant request to a national foundation in order to have a class at Covenant on “physical suffering and human flourishing.” If he receives the grant, he will be leading a course that will include guest lectures from around a dozen other faculty members who will lecture on the topic from the perspectives of their particular academic fields. This class will only be offered if they received the grant, which will be announced in the spring.