The Rev. Dr. Michael Trainor

The Rev. Dr. Michael Trainor

2011 Distinguished Academic Visitor

The Rev. Dr. Michael Trainor is senior lecturer in the department of theology at Flinders University, South Australia. He teaches in New Testament, and specifically in the gospels and Pauline writings. Michael's particular research angle comes from his interest to intersect archaeology and cultural studies with an appreciation of the early households of Jesus discernible in the pages of the New Testament. This focus has enabled him to work with colleagues and researchers locally and in Turkey to begin a process that would eventually lead to the archaeological interpretation of the site of ancient Colossae, one of the few remaining unexcavated sites linked to the Pauline households and evident in the letter to the Colossians.

The other dimension to Michael's teaching , writing and research come out of his current pastoral involvement in the life of one of the larger Catholic communities in Adelaide. As a Catholic priest, he has been responsible for the pastoral care of the Catholic parish of Elizabeth where he worked with a pastoral team dovetailing NT scholarship, insights into early Christian households, and the contemporary need to renew parish life.

Both aspects of his teaching and pastoral ministry are evident in his writings which include: The Quest for Home: The Household in Mark's Gospel (2001), Journeying: A Beginner's Guide to the Bible (2005), Journeying with the Christ: An ecumenical resource from the Gospel of Mark (2005, co-authored by Merrill Kitchen), Epaphras: Paul's Educator at Colossae (2008), and About Angels: Companions in our Quest for God (2009). In 2007 Michael was awarded an Order of Australia for his services to education, theology and archaeology.

Study Project

Michael's focus has been to explore ways that enable the insights of New Testament communities address some of the pertinent pastoral, ministerial and theological issues that have surfaced in recent decades. This focus will shape the two aspects of the study project he will engage while at Vaughan Park.

The first concerns an exploration of the various forms of ministerial expressions evident amongst the first generations of Jesus followers. These expressions are especially evident in the Pauline and Gospel communities and are expressed in the activities associated with diakonia (ministry), leitourgia (worship), kerygma (proclamation), didache (teaching) and koinonia (communion).   Several scholars have explored these various ministerial expressions, but none has looked at these in the light of their implications for the growth and mission of NT communities/ households and their relevance for today's faith communities. Such a contemporary exploration is needed, given the recent emphasis in Roman Catholic circles of the pastoral leadership of the baptized in the light of the growing decline in numbers of ordained. This particular study project will buttress this recent emphasis and give NT support for what might appear a new stress. In fact this study remains firmly rooted with the Christian tradition from the earliest years, and has important implications for ecumenical ministerial theology.

The second area of interest surrounds the pastoral issues of sexual abuse that many Christian churches are addressing. Michael will focus on the four gospel passion narratives from the perspective of the abuse of Jesus, finding the possibility of hearing these narratives in terms of Jesus' abuse. The intended monograph that will flow out of this will show how these gospel stories can offer fresh insights into our own experience. Such a hermeneutical approach could also present a fresh theology and Christology pertinent to people concerned about this area in their churches.