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APU Participates in Green Scholars Initiative

by University Relations

Robert Duke, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biblical Studies, along with two undergraduate students, Lance Baker ’12 and Andrew Wall ’12, became the first team of scholars at APU to collaborate with the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI). The GSI, an international research project, involves more than 30 institutions under the sponsorship of the Green Collection. Founded by the Green family, it represents the world’s newest and largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts, comprising more than 40,000 biblical antiquities. The initiative brings established and young scholars together to pioneer groundbreaking biblical discoveries.

As part of the Ancient Languages class, Duke and his emerging scholars spent the spring semester studying a silver amulet estimated to be from the third or fourth century AD. The amulet, a scroll of silver about the size of a playing card, contains Aramaic and Hebrew prayers for blessing and healing as well as the Shema from Deuteronomy 6. The study included transcribing, translating, and deciphering the text, and developing their own commentary on it for publication.

“Studying this item required us to draw from many different disciplines, such as linguistics, history, art, and others. It was a very holistic experience in which we relied on each other to add to the research,” said Duke. “It was an opportunity for Lance, Andrew, and me to be part of significant biblical research, and it gave both of them an extraordinary undergraduate academic experience. I look forward to APU becoming an integral part of GSI in the future, giving other students the opportunity to participate in this new scholarship, and training the next generation of scholars.”

“I’ve known the Green family for several years and am deeply thankful for their passion for advancing Christian biblical scholarship,” said T. Scott Daniels, Ph.D., dean of the APU School of Theology and senior pastor at Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene. “GSI has created an almost unprecedented opportunity for current and future scholars from multiple Christian institutions to gather around ancient texts to celebrate our shared past and imagine God’s providential future for His people. It is an honor for APU’s School of Theology to be in the thick of this important research and the ongoing scholarly conversation.”

The group primarily studied the amulet using digital images, but also viewed the piece in person and discussed their work with other scholars at a GSI lecture in Atlanta, Georgia, in February. “The GSI project has been an excellent opportunity to experience the academic side of biblical studies and a great opportunity to partner and network with excellent scholars,” said Baker, a biblical studies major.

These scholars will also present their findings to the Society of Biblical Literature in Illinois this November at the society’s annual meeting, the largest gathering of biblical scholars in the world, becoming the first GSI team to present at this venue.

Originally published in the Summer '12 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).