Translating a never-before-seen Dead Sea Scrolls fragment is exciting enough. But when that fragment paves the way to an all-expenses-paid trip to Oxford, it brings learning to a whole new level.
Haley Cloyd and Daniel Somboonsiri have been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship in 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.
‘I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket’
Cloyd has been working on MU’s GSI Dead Sea Scrolls project since last fall, and Somboonsiri began analyzing the fragment this spring. Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz, who directs this GSI project, told a few of his Hebrew students about the opportunity in January and encouraged them to apply.
Somboonsiri was shocked when he heard that he was chosen for the internship. “I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket in my hand,” he says. “It’s surreal.”
Cloyd was ecstatic when she received the news. “I’m so excited about the Bodleian Library — it has ancient manuscripts, a Gutenburg Bible and manuscripts written by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien!” she says. “And I’m excited to meet more Hebrew nerds from other schools.”
“I’m not surprised they were selected,” says Kutz. “They are both very capable. I’m very proud of them.”
Kutz will attend the second week of the conference, when professors and students work side-by-side with ancient manuscripts from the Green Collection. “I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to the Green family for their stewardship of the resources God has given them,” he says. “I’m looking forward to working on the projects with the students for most of the day. I enjoy the intense academic environment.”
Students from more than 60 schools in North America applied for the internship, and only 30 were selected. Five additional students who have already participated in the internship were chosen to serve as teaching assistants.
“I know we have a very quality program,” says Kutz. “I think it shows in our students by how well they read the language.”
A few years ago, Somboonsiri was doubtful he could excel in his Hebrew classes. “I thought learning the language was going to be the most daunting thing,” he says. “But Dr. Kutz’s curriculum doesn’t depend on rote memorization; instead, you understand how the language lives and breathes.”
This unique approach, coupled with supportive faculty, made Somboonsiri realize he could do more than he ever thought was possible. “The professors here are so passionate about Hebrew — it’s infectious,” he says. “I’ve been inspired to push myself in my studies thanks to their experience and guidance.”
Now all that work has paid off, and Somboonsiri can’t wait to reap the benefits. “I’m looking forward to the dinner chats with the scholars, especially the chats focused on apologetics,” he says. “We’ll get to hear from them about what it looks like to be a person of faith in the world of academia. To have the advice of people who have walked that path will be amazing.”
Somboonsiri plans to follow in their footsteps. After graduation, he wants to earn a Ph.D. and teach theology and Hebrew at a university. “My heart is to disciple people to be passionate about holistically living in Christ by participating in His redemptive mission in the world,” he says. “I would love to spend my life preparing people of the kingdom to live sacrificially as they bear witness to Jesus’ sacrificial love.”
In the meantime, he’s looking forward to representing his school at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. “Multnomah is small, but Dr. Kutz is very respected,” he says. “His language program is geek heaven. It’s the best in the country.”
‘A glimpse of the bigger picture’
Cloyd feels the same way. “Multnomah’s Hebrew program has a high level of scholarship, and the professors build that up in their students,” she says. “What’s really cool is that Dr. Kutz comes alongside you and shows you how to do things. He gets to know each student, and then tailors projects to fit the person.”
The individual attention and rigorous courses have given Cloyd a love for Hebrew that she couldn’t image life without. “Our professors encourage curiosity and investigating,” she says. “And you have to be curious to do research. Otherwise, it can get boring.”
Cloyd isn’t just passionate about the research — she’s invested in every word she’s studying. “The professors have given us a love for the Word, for knowing it well and for knowing its history,” she says. “To study the Bible well, you have to respect the saints who came before you and approach the book with humility.”
Like Somboonsiri, Cloyd plans to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation. Her time in Oxford will bring her dream of being a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies closer than ever.
“There are the practical ways the internship will help me — it can go on my résumé, and it looks good,” she says. “But even more than that, it’s affirming that what I’m studying isn’t silly. It’s not just a hobby. And it’s not just something to pay the bills. I’m going to be able to do work that I love. This internship is just a glimpse of the bigger picture.”