Mast, Gerald J. 1965- (Gerald Biesecker-Mast)

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Mast, Gerald J. 1965- (Gerald Biesecker-Mast)


Born July 8, 1965; married first wife, Susan (divorced, 2007); married second wife, Carrie Ann Mast, 2008. Education: Malone College, B.A., 1987; attended University of Akron; University of Pittsburgh, M.A., 1991, Ph.D., 1995.


Office—Communication and Theatre Department, Bluffton University, Bluffton, OH 45817. E-mail—[email protected]


University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, graduate teaching assistant, 1988-91, graduate teaching fellow, 1991-95; Community College of Allegheny County, Boyce Campus, Pittsburgh, PA, part-time instructor, 1992-94; University of Iowa, Iowa City, assistant in instruction, 1995; Bluffton University, Bluffton, OH, assistant professor of communication, 1996-2000, associate professor of communication, 2000-06, professor of communication, 2006—. Also East Canton Press-News, East Canton, OH, news writer, 1987; Graphic Publications, Berlin, OH, news and features editor, 1987-88; WQED Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, public relations writer, 1995. American Society for the History of Rhetoric, member of steering committee, 1991-92; World Federalist Association of Pittsburgh, board of directors, 1992-93; Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE), board of trustees, 1998-2000; and Mennonite magazine, vice-chair of governance board, 2007—.


Mennonite Historical Society (member of executive committee, 2005—), National Communication Association, Religious Communication Association, American Academy of Religion, Mennonite Historical Society, Anabaptist-Mennonite Scholars Network, Mennonite Church USA (First Mennonite Church, Bluffton, Ohio).


Pathways Faculty Scholar, Bluffton University, 2006; Award of Merit for a theological or scholarly article, Associated Church Press, 2007, for "The Da Vinci Code, Martyrs Mirror, and the Faithful Church."



(Editor and contributor, with former wife, Susan Biesecker-Mast) Anabaptists & Postmodernity, Pandora Press (Telford, PA), 2000.

(Editor and contributor, with J. Denny Weaver) Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2003.

Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion: Radical Confessional Rhetoric from Schleitheim to Dordrecht, foreword by John D. Roth, Cascadia Pub. House (Telford, PA), 2006.


(Editor, with Alain Epp Weaver) The Work of Jesus Christ in Anabaptist Perspective: Essays in Honor of J. Denny Weaver, Cascadia Pub. House (Telford, PA), 2008.

Contributor to books, including New World Order: Can It Bring Security to the World's People? Essays on Restructuring the United Nations, edited by Walter Hoffman, World Federalist Association, 1991; Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Modern Age, edited by Teresa Enos, Garland, 1996; Where Was God on September 11?, edited by Donald B. Kraybill and Linda Gehman Peachey, Herald Press, 2002; A Mind Patient and Untamed: Assessing John Howard Yoder's Contributions to Theology, Ethics, and Peacemaking, edited by Ben Ollenburger and Gayle Gerber Koontz, Cascadia Publishing House, 2004; Vital Christianity: Spirituality, Justice, and Christian Practice, edited by David Weaver-Zercher and William Willimon, T&T Clark, 2005; and Exiles in the Empire, edited by Nate Yoder, Pandora Press, 2006.

Contributor to professional journals, including Mennonite Historical Bulletin, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Conrad Grebel Review, Iowa Journal of Communication, Mennonite Life, Mennonite Quarterly Review, Brethren Life and Thought, Fides et Historia, Brethren in Christ History and Life, Crosscurrents, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Religious Studies Review, and Rhetoric and Public Affairs. Contributor to periodicals, including the Mennonite, Dreamseeker, Christian Living, and the Gospel Herald. Member of board of editors of Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History, 2000—; Mennonite magazine board, 2003—; and advisory board for "Classics of the Radical Reformation" series, 2004—. Occasional journal referee for Conrad Grebel Review and Mennonite Quarterly Review. Series editor of "Studies in Anabaptist and Mennonite History," 2008—.


Gerald J. Mast, who formerly published under the name of Gerald Biesecker-Mast, is a communications professor whose interests include the production of social identity in rhetorical discourse and the role of human communication in the formation of social, political, and religious movements. He is also interested in Anabaptist-Mennonite studies from the standpoint of the discipline of communication and in nonviolent epistemology as shaped by the politics and ethics of Jesus. He is the author or editor of several books focusing on his academic interests.

Mast is the editor with his former wife, Susan Biesecker-Mast (now Susan Trollinger), of Anabaptists & Postmodernity. The book presents a series of scholarly essays focusing on how Anabaptists face the twenty-first-century culture of consumerism in North America within the context of the sixteenth-century Anabaptists' radical Christian beliefs.

Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts, which Mast edited with J. Denny Weaver, features essays on how the discussion of nonviolence fits into a liberal arts education beyond the realm of courses in philosophy or religion. Mast wrote in the book's introduction: "The specific orientation for knowledge offered in this book as an alternative to violence-accommodating methodologies and pedagogies has its roots in a particular tradition of Christian theology and hermeneutics whose contemporary form derives from Anabaptists movements of the sixteenth century and is expressed more broadly in that loose coalition of contemporary communities of interpretation known as the Historic Peace Churches—Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers who have made conscientious objection to war a central feature of their Christian faith—as well as in such groups as the Fellowship of Reconciliation that bring together pacifist people of faith from numerous denominational backgrounds."

The author explains in his introduction that central to the Anabaptists' beliefs concerning peace is the idea that under no circumstances are political or governmental violence and war permissible as a national policy. The author writes that "within this tradition commitment to peace is based less on an optimistic view of human nature than it is on the ‘nonconformity’ of Christian churches to the warring ways of the broader society and recognition of God's peaceable reign where it becomes visible in the world."

Contributors to Teaching Peace are primarily faculty at Bluffton College who come from a wide range of disciplines, including political science, theology, literature, art, music, theater, criminal justice, psychology, biology, and mathematics. "Readers will appreciate the clarity of ideas on nonviolence and the practicality of suggestions for presenting these ideas in teaching," wrote Prudence A. Moylan in a review for H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. Moylan added: "Though the contributors share a Christian approach to nonviolence, the issues they address are the same as those identified by advocates of non-violence from other religious or secular traditions."

MBR Bookwatch contributor Michael Dunford called the author's 2006 book, Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion: Radical Confessional Rhetoric from Schleitheim to Dordrecht, "a thoughtfully analytical criticism of the Anabaptist confessional argument during the Reformation Era." The book explores arguments for peace and nonviolence via both public argument and individual spiritual practice within the Anabaptist movement. The author conducts this discussion within the context of the Anabaptist leaders' adoption of the sixteenth-century Schleitheim Brotherly Union, also known as the Schleitheim Confession. This declaration of belief by the Swiss Anabaptists includes seven articles. The author focuses on the articles concerning the "Separation from Evil," which states that Christians should not associate with those who are disobedient or rebellious toward God (including governments), and "The Sword," which is a statement of the seminal importance of avoiding violence in all circumstances.

Mast examines how various Anabaptist leaders and writers discussed the relationship between separation and peace after the adoption of the Schleitheim Brotherly Union, which led to several decades of tension and debate. By focusing on the rhetoric used by these leaders and writers, the author provides an in-depth analysis of early Anabaptist pacifism. "Biesecker-Mast's reading of his material forges a way between the assumptions and methodologies of social and intellectual history," wrote Stephen Boyd in Church History. Vic Thiessen, writing on The Anabaptist Network Web site, commented: "Biesecker-Mast's book is a must-read for students/scholars of Anabaptist history and theology and for all those who are interested in how the early Anabaptists viewed their relation to the social order ruled by the sword. It is well-written, thorough, fascinating and not afraid to be controversial."

Writing as Gerald J. Mast, the author is editor with Alain Epp Weaver of The Work of Jesus Christ in Ana-baptist Perspective: Essays in Honor of J. Denny Weaver. The book includes twenty essays by a wide range of contributors who examine the writings and thoughts of J. Denny Weaver and discuss modern perspectives on the life and death of Jesus Christ.



Biesecker-Mast, Gerald, and J. Denny Weaver, editors, Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2003.


Church History, December, 2007, Stephen Boyd, review of Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion: Radical Confessional Rhetoric from Schleitheim to Dordrecht, p. 847.

MBR Bookwatch, May, 2006, Michael Dunford, review of Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2004, review of Teaching Peace, p. 125.


Anabaptist Network, (January 3, 2008), Vic Thiessen, "Pacifism in Early Anabaptism," review of Separation and the Sword in Anabaptist Persuasion.

Bluffton University Web site, (July 15, 2008), faculty profile of author.

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, (July 15, 2008), Prudence A. Moylan, review of Teaching Peace: Nonviolence and the Liberal Arts.

Mennonite Church USA Web site, (March 31, 2005), Laurie L. Oswald, "Professor's Faith Story Draws Students of All Stripes at Bluffton University."