If studying ancient manuscripts is a dream come true, then studying ancient manuscripts at one of the world’s best universities must be paradise.
Four seminary students from MU have been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship at Oxford sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI). Only students working on GSI projects were invited to apply for the summer conference, where world-renowned academic experts will teach them history, theology and textual studies.
Students from more than 60 schools across North America applied, but only 30 people were selected. Five additional students who participated in the 2014 internship were chosen to attend as second-year fellows. David Tucker and Becca McMartin will be attending the conference for the first time. Haley Kirkpatrick and Daniel Somboonsiri will be joining as second-year fellows.
Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz told his Hebrew students about the opportunity this winter and encouraged them to apply. McMartin, Kirkpatrick and Somboonsiri have assisted Kutz with two GSI projects, and Tucker has helped with one. Both projects focused on analyzing a never-before-seen Dead Sea Scroll fragment loaned to them from the Green Collection.
“These four are some of our best students, and I am delighted they have been selected,” says Kutz. “The invitation for them to participate speaks very highly of their skills and the quality of our program.”
McMartin says she waited on pins and needles to find out if she was chosen for the trip. When she heard the good news, she called Kirkpatrick, who had just received confirmation of her own acceptance. They screamed together in glee over the phone.
“This is almost unbelievable,” says McMartin. “Studying a Dead Sea Scroll fragment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And everything we do in Oxford will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity too! It’s humbling, and it’s an honor.”
Kutz, who was invited to lead three sessions of a Logos Hebrew language seminar, will join his students in Oxford for five days.
“I am excited for them to have the opportunity to learn from other leading scholars in the field of textual research,” he says. “I am also glad they get to rub shoulders with other junior scholars from around the world who will become their peers as they continue in their studies and careers.”
As second-year fellows, Kirkpatrick and Somboonsiri will give presentations on the two GSI projects they have tackled. They’ll discuss the particular fragments they studied, how they analyzed them, processes in research they took and more. In addition to presenting their findings, fellows will also lead small group discussions. “Our schedule in Oxford is packed!” says Kirkpatrick. “Group discussions are a way for us to process the experience as it’s happening.”
Although the internship is a flurry of chapels, lectures, tours, discussions and tea times, Kirkpatrick hopes McMartin and Tucker can slow down to soak it all in. “My hope is that their experience in Oxford affirms for them how well God knows them and what he’s called them to do,” she says.
McMartin says they wouldn’t be going to Oxford if it weren’t for their teachers. “Our professors have accepted a huge responsibility by taking on GSI projects so that we could have this opportunity,” she says. “I’m so thankful for their investment in us.”
Kirkpatrick agrees. “I appreciate their emphasis on teamwork, and I appreciate recognizing and encouraging strengths in your teammates,” she says. “Our professors have a keen understanding of the language complimented by curiosity. They invite their students into the process. I still think we have the best Hebrew program in the country.”