Home / Culture / The Secret Life of the Messiah Professor: From Montana Country Boy to Big Game Biologist

The Secret Life of the Messiah Professor: From Montana Country Boy to Big Game Biologist

Zoë Lehmann
Student Writer

After 21 years of teaching here at Messiah, Dr. Michael Cosby is retiring.

Though he is the author of your Encountering the Bible textbook, Dr. Cosby did not always see himself becoming a Bible professor with two degrees and a Ph.D. “I grew up in a very blue-collar family,” he shared. “My dad was an electrician [and] a cowboy, [so] I always grew up around horses.” Cosby also said his family was “poor as church mice,” so college wasn’t really “on [their] radar.” Instead, he anticipated going into a trade. “I’d be an electrician, I’d be a pipefitter, you know, do something manly,” he said with a laugh.

Yet against the odds, Cosby did attend college, thanks to an offer for a full ride at the University of Wyoming to play basketball. This was in 1968; when the Vietnam War was in full fledge. He avoided the draft with a student deferment and played basketball until he injured his knee playing soccer during a trip to Guatemala.

After the decision to leave Wyoming and return to Montana, Cosby finished his undergrad in wildlife biology. He planned on becoming a big game biologist so he could work on a wildlife refuge. “The idea of me being in an office like I am right now, with books on the shelf and a desk would have seemed totally hilarious to me as an undergrad,” he said with another chuckle. “Life is full of irony.”

He now refers to himself as a “biblical historian,” a fitting description for a Bible professor who has now published five books on different aspects of the Bible.

Now that he is retiring, Cosby plans to work on his sixth book, a biography. He also looks forward to whitewater kayaking, “so we’ll do a lot more of that,” he said. Another hobby of his is photography. One of his favorite pictures hangs in his office—a large photograph of Byzantine ruins in Turkey.

For those unfamiliar with Cosby’s teaching style, he welcomes difficult biblical discussions and tries to draw out his students’ honest questions or opinions. “I love honesty,” he said.

Cosby chose to review 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 for his final lecture before retirement. The passage is often controversial in both the classroom and the church for its discussion about women covering their heads during prayer, and the man being above the woman in marriage.

The Theta Alpha Kappa theological honor society stated, “If you like ‘biblical,’ ‘humorous,’ ‘relevant,’ and ‘amazing’ you will love Dr. Cosby.” His wide range of knowledge and interests about the most unexpected topics will continue to surprise you. He now lives nearby with his wife, Lynne, and has two sons in their thirties, and one granddaughter.

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