Dr. Carmen Imes brings to Biola a passion for helping students and other laypeople engage the Old Testament and discover its relevance for Christian identity and mission. Since the release of her book Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters (IVP, 2019), Imes has appeared on more than 40 podcasts and radio shows and launched her own YouTube channel where she releases weekly “Torah Tuesday” videos. She is a guest blogger for Christianity Today, The Political Theology Network and The Well (InterVarsity's blog for women in the academy and professions). Imes is also a frequent speaker at churches, conferences and retreats. She’s also the first woman to teach the Old Testament full time at Talbot.
Q: What first interested you in becoming an Old Testament scholar?
I have been fascinated with the Bible since childhood. I read it voraciously as a kid and I have never run out of questions to ask about it. It has continued to inspire me until now. And I think the Old Testament in particular tends to baffle Christians as they are not sure how to read it well and what to do with it. I pursued this study because I wanted to be able to help the church read and appreciate the whole Bible.
Q: Are there any areas of research you are currently exploring?
Yes, I’m writing a book on the image of God now. It will be a companion volume to Bearing God’s Name called Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters. I’m exploring the idea of “what does it mean to be human?” I have a commentary that I’m working on for Baker Academic on Exodus. After that I’ll be publishing a workbook on the Psalms. So, I’m working on that little by little now as I teach Psalms at Talbot.
Q: You and your husband served as missionaries in the Philippines. How does this experience inform your classroom teaching at Talbot?
We were part of a church planning team working among ethnic minorities in the Philippines for two and half years. And, I would say that it has informed my work in so many ways. Reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience, so living cross-culturally reshaped the kinds of questions that I asked of the text and the kind of things I notice in the text. In the classroom it also makes me conscious of Western- specific illustrations that might not work for my students. If you evoke a certain movie, not all of your students have seen it, especially if they are international students. So, it has helped me to become more sensitive so that I can communicate with a broader range of students.
Q: What classes do you teach? And, what is your favorite thing about teaching at Talbot?
My main class is Old Testament History and Literature, which is an undergraduate 200 level class — and a large one. I teach that every semester. I also teach an elective on the Psalms. Next year, I will be teaching Biblical Theology and Bible Backgrounds as well. And my favorite thing about teaching here is how enthusiastic students are to be learning. They really seem to want to be in their Bible classes and put themselves into it, which is such a blessing.
Q: Can you share a couple of insights on prayer from your book Praying the Psalms with Augustine and Friends?
Maybe one of my favorite themes that emerged as I was looking for devotional insights to share is about what Augustine says about desire. He is convinced that we must not desire anything more than God. So often we come to God to ask for something. Augustine reshapes that and says, “Is not God greater than the thing we are asking for?” He shines a light on the fact that desiring anything more than God is idolatry, because God himself must be the object of our desire. And then Gertrude the Great was an interesting discovery for me. She lived in the 1200s and grew up in an abbey; she was a nun. She models exactly what Augustine was talking about — this desire for Jesus above anything else. And her prayers are just effusive with love for Jesus. One can tell that he is her only object of desire. That really comes through in her writings.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
I’ve been married to Daniel for 24 years and we have three children. Our oldest, Ana, is just graduating from George Fox University studying philosophy. Our middle daughter, Emma, is finishing high school in Canada. She opted to stay there when we moved here. And our youngest, Easton, is at La Mirada High School, studying engineering and loves that. We attend Redeemer Church here in La Mirada and just became members. He is the director of administration and facilities for them. He works part time in that role. I read Scripture in the service and we’ve joined a small group, so it’s been good to get plugged in.
Q: What types of activities do you enjoy doing when not teaching or researching?
I love to go for walks. I love camping and hiking. We have not yet found a place to camp here. That’s something we’re still working on. I love listening to podcasts, playing pickleball and a new hobby is watercolor painting. I’m just learning how to do that.