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Students and Faculty Earn Scholarships to Oxford

by University Relations

From an international pool of applicants, an Azusa Pacific student, alumnus, and their professor earned scholarships to attend LOGOS: A Summer Workshop in Biblical Texts, Vocation, and the Christian Mind, June 13–27, 2013, as part of the Green Scholar Initiative (GSI).

Made possible by the Green family, founders of national arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, this unique opportunity allowed Skyler Russell ’13 and Daniel Holt ’14 to travel with Robert Duke, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biblical Studies, to the University of Oxford, where they studied with academic experts in the fields of history and textual studies. Both established and fledgling scholars gathered at Wycliff Hall to pioneer groundbreaking research on items in the Green Collection, the world’s largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts.

“The LOGOS workshop primarily focuses on collaboration,” said Duke, who has conducted two GSI projects at Azusa Pacific University, including work with the Dead Sea Scrolls and a silver amulet from the third or fourth century AD. “Traditionally, humanities scholarship has been about the sage on the stage, the professor teaching and the student absorbing. The Green Scholar Initiative places student and professor side by side. This approach fosters high-level scholarship in community.”

To qualify, students demonstrated their competence in ancient languages as well as a passion for investigating a Christian vocation in an academic setting. APU’s 2 joined 40 other students and 30 faculty in round-table discussions and hands-on projects.

“We engaged in an amazing dialogue about the problem of evil in the Old Testament,” said Holt. “I learned that it is okay to ask tough questions when your faith is strongly founded.”

“I experienced the thrill of discovery and exploration as we worked with a mummy mask, dipping it in a series of chemical baths, each carefully mixed at precisely the right temperature, in hopes of finding within the layers of papyri some fragments with text on them,” said Russell. “We not only watched this delicate procedure, but we were also part of the process. I prepared sheets of art paper for Dr. Pattengale [executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative] as he gently peeled large papyrus fragments off the mask made of cartonnage, an ancient paper-maché-like material that is a major source for biblical fragments. These masks were often shaped with recycled papyrus with text already written on it. I’ll never forget the atmosphere of excitement, anticipation, and curiosity as we all gathered around the mask hoping to get a glimpse at the emerging layer of papyrus—we Greek and Hebrew students straining to see if we could make out a letter here or a word there.”

Experiences like these shape serious scholars. “I was given a glimpse into the world of Christian evangelical scholarship like never before,” said Russell. “The Green family gave me some valuable puzzle pieces that I know God will one day fit into place.”

“I learned from some of today’s great thinkers about how to convey my faith and navigate intellectualism while staying grounded,” said Holt. “At Oxford, I walked the same footpath that C.S. Lewis traversed and learned how he used his platform as a professor to help others in their walk, and how he impacted both believers and nonbelievers with his life. I now understand that in order to have a similar effect, I must become a respected professional in my field, known for integrity and good work, before I can use my vocation as a platform for my faith as he did.” Well on his way toward that goal, Holt shared about his experience at a filmed lecture series in Colorado Springs for GSI, which also hired him for the summer to work with Passages, the organization’s traveling exhibit.

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).