Ashland University Religion Professor Publishes Book

10/30/12 ASHLAND, Ohio - Dr. Craig Hovey, assistant professor of religion at Ashland University, has published a new book titled “Unexpected Jesus: The Gospel as Surprise.”

Published by Cascade Books, the book “offers a theology of hope, waiting and promise from the perspective of the resurrection of Jesus. It asks what kind of knowing is most appropriate if the God Christians worship is a living God and the Christian gospel is a surprise,” Hovey said. “I can't wait to use it in my Christology class in the spring.”

“It is obvious that knowing God is more like knowing a person than knowing a piece of information. And when you know a person, they can surprise you,” he said. “And while we only know what a person is like by what they’ve done, so long as they’re alive, they’re free to act in ways that enlarge our sense of what they’re like. Especially because of the resurrection of Christ, we know that God is a living God.”

Hovey believes that when they understand this, Christians will find this aspect of God unnerving.

“I don’t think that Thomas, the disciple, represents doubt that someone can rise from the dead,” he said. “I think of him voicing a much more troubling kind of doubt: we fear that God is still on the move.”

Hovey believes that surprise is crucial for warding off idolatry. “We need to be sure it’s truly God we’re worshiping and not just an exalted version of our best selves,” he said.

“If we’re honest,” Hovey says, “we’d rather take comfort in knowing that God can be kept down, kept at bay, contained, and easily known in the same ways that we know facts. But the idea that ‘He is risen!’ can make for some uncomfortable news if it’s really true. We don’t know what God will do next. He is certainly faithful to his promises and loves us. But God loves our enemies and asks Christians to do the same. So even God’s love defies our expectations. I suppose he wouldn’t be God if he didn’t.”

In her endorsement of the book, Dr. Caryn Reeder of Westmont College, says "In a world overpopulated by studies that claim to explain the historical Jesus, Craig Hovey reminds readers of the surprise of Jesus in the gospel, in the story of the church, and in the lives of Christians today. Through flowing prose and pithy observations, Hovey challenges the church to take up the difficult task of living out the truly surprising life of Jesus."

The book is available for purchase at the Ashland University Bookstore or online at or your favorite Christian bookstore.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.