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Mark Fretz

POSITION: Adjunct Faculty

School of Theology, Humanities and Performing Arts

EMAIL: mark.fretz@emu.edu

Publishing and teaching are the two tracks of my dual-career life. I earned a BA degree from (then) Eastern Mennonite College, went on to (then) Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries and earned an MDiv degree, and completed my formal education at the University of Michigan, earning a PhD degree in Hebrew, Bible, and ancient Near Eastern studies. I went to graduate school to study the Bible, languages (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Akkadian, German, French), and the ancient Near East, with the goal of becominga professor. During graduate school at the University of Michigan, I was awarded both teaching andresearch assistantships.Mydissertation advisor, for whom I was a research assistant,assigned me an array of tasks to help him publish a huge reference work, The Anchor Bible Dictionary: writing, copyediting, project management, author recruitment, issuing contracts,and securing and tracking permissions. After graduate school, I taught for a while, but then the publishing world came calling and I decided to gain some experience in that world. My early exposure to publishing eventually led to a dual career as an academic and publisher. I love both worlds and am actively engaged in both, but I spend most of my time wearing thepublisher’shat.
Editorial Director, Radius Book Group
Oddly, I entered the publishing industry where a lot of people want to end up, at one of the largest trade publishing companies in the world. It was odd on several counts. In addition to the oddity of beginning my publishing career at Doubleday, which was owned by Bertelsmann and eventually merged with Random House, I was an academic working in the cutthroat business world, with the corporate office building where I worked overlooking Times Square in New York City. It also was odd for a global media company to situate a religious publishing division—where we published everything from the Anchor Bible commentary series, to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, to The New Jerusalem Bible, to authors like Desmond Tutu and Joe Girzone—in its very commercial-oriented trade publishing conglomerate of Bantam Doubleday Dell. And it was odd indeed for an Anabaptist to be involved with publishing books for a Catholic audience, given Doubleday’s historical roots as a Catholic publisher.
After getting a solid grounding in all aspects of publishing as an editor, I became a publisher of Morehouse Publishing. Then I moved to the services side of the publishing industry, working for Scribe Inc., a publishing services and technology company. This was during a period of rapid change and major disruptions in the industry, which coincided with the transformation to a digital world driven by technological advances and resulting in the fundamental evolution of society on a global scale. In January 2017, I got back onto the book acquisition and publishing side of the industry, but this time with a cutting-edge new company, based in New York City—Radius Book Group. It is exciting to be in charge of this entrepreneurial hybrid publishing company, where we are involved in reinventing publishing for a new age.
Adjunct Professor of Bible, Eastern Mennonite Seminary
While my early vision of becoming a tenured professor, teaching and publishing academic books and articles my whole career, never came to reality, I was determined to maintain the language skills and not let all my education go fallow, even though I was working full time in the publishing world. That meant being creative with finding teaching opportunities. Over the years, I have taught informally and formally wherever I have lived. Since 2000, I have consistently taught on both the undergraduate and graduate level, one or two courses per year on average. The commitment to teach disciplines me to stay sharp with language skills, keep up with the literature in the academic disciplines of interest to me, create new courses when the opportunity arises, and write on topics that capture my attention.
Since 2009, I have taught at the Lancaster campus of Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Biblical studies courses are my bread and butter, along with the occasional related course that students need. Students may think of learning the inductive study method when they think of my courses, and that is a centerpiece of what I teach. However, as important are exposing students to new information, ideas, and ways of navigating different opinions, learning how to do research, uncover significant information, sifting and evaluating what they discover, and thinking for themselves. No one can ever master everything there is to know and learn in the area of biblical studies, but students can successfully learn how to swim in that ocean and develop their own ways of appropriating what they learn for their own ministry and personal use. Teaching is rewarding on a number of levels, including the gratification of seeing students not only learn but actually have “aha” moments and life-changing experiences. I am continually indebted to students, from whom I learn so much, and whom I admire for the effort and passion to learn and serve the church.


PHD, The University of Michigan (Biblical Studies and Hebrew)
MDIV, Mennonite Bibival Seminary (Biblical Studies)
BA, Eastern Mennonite College (Bible and Psychology)

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