Monday, May 14, 2012

"Holy Fire testifies to Jesus' power"

Though Easter has passed, the season is still upon us. As I dig in deeper to my studies, I feel the sense of this incredible season and once again am reminded that Easter is by far my favorite holiday. My mother gave me an old bit of the Deseret News from the Faith section in which this story was found "Holy Fire testifies to Jesus' power". I highly recommend it. It is a quick read and fills you with mysticism and the awe of worshiping with combined faiths. I personally have visited The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and  found that sharing my faith there with all sorts of Christians from different backgrounds was a wonderful experience. I wanted to hide in that church and stay there for days. I took this picture of an orthodox priest while I was visiting:
Eastern Orthodox Priest, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

My studies this week will delve into Hebrew transliterations and mastering the vowel structure in the written language. In my Theological Research Methods class, I approved a research topic with my professor and will be researching the practice of baptism in the early church (first four centuries). I will be examining regional variations of practice (immersion, non immersion, interviewing, etc.) as found in preserved early Christian writings. I look forward to digging into the resources and getting the facts. Thrilling!

Early Christian Baptismal font in Cyprus (6th century?)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dr. Horton-Parker:

Theology is “faith seeking understanding”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Notes from Biblical Languages lecture:

Last night I had my first live session of class where I was logged in with 13 other students to attend a lecture by our instructor, Sarah Wells. To whet our appetite, she gave us two fun examples of word studies in both Hebrew and Greek that help us see the value in digging deeper to the original language of a text.

Take John 1:5 (KJV)

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

If we do a study on the Greek for the word comprehend, we can pull other meanings. The Greek word is "καταλαμβάνω" or "katalambanó" which can be defined as seize tight hold of, arrest, catch, capture, appropriate, (b) I overtake, (c) mid. aor: I perceived, comprehended.

Thus we can see and respect why other translations are worded as such (and there are many, many more):

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (ESV)
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (NIV)
And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. (ISV)

Another fun one. Take Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him.

If we do a study on the Hebrew for the word "help" we get the word   עֵ֫זֶר or "ezer" which means "a help". Uniquely, in the majority of the occurences in the OT where the word ezer is used, it is used in the sense of a militaristic help. One who came to someone's aid to vanquish enemies. Divine intervention. So after we have studied this word, we have a deeper understanding of the crucial role of a woman in relation to her husband's salvation and defense. Almost a spiritual protector...quite a bit different from our cultural norms of women in kitchen, yes?


as opposed to

And all that from a little word study!

WHAT I AM DOING: MA in Biblical Studies at Regent. Its a big undertaking, and has already been an adventure and a source of much talk within the LDS community I am a part of. Located in Virginia Beach, VA, Regent has one of the largest Christian seminaries in the US, but at the same time is overall a small, liberal arts university that caters to a Christian themed education with about 5,000 students on campus.

WHY I AM DOING IT: After serving an LDS mission at the Church Historic Sites in Rochester, NY, and reading EVERY religious book I could get my hands on (a bit of a break on missionary rules but I felt so privileged to be AT THE PLACE where the Golden Plates were found I could hardly get my hands off of all the Nibley books available to the senior couple missionaries in the basement of the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center and on those lonely days when no one came in, I READ), I knew I had a real passion for religious studies. I had several unique and faith building experiences on my mission addressing large groups of other faiths, including one neat experience with Dr. Robert Millett of BYU (Dr. Millett is the  Manager of Outreach and Interfaith Relations for Church Public Affairs and has strong relations with evangelical groups). Since my mission, I took a job at the University of Utah in International Education, married, and began trying to match my interest in on campus programs (thus, my 12 hours at the U). Each attempt was met with frustration and disappointment as I realized the curriculum of those programs failed to meet my academic interests so I continually felt the need to keep looking...

Moving wasn't an option, since my husband is a student at the U and nearly done with his program and our main source of income was coming from me (I found great pleasure and opportunity in my career field and also didn't want to leave my job). I had been researching different seminaries across the country but was weary of online programs, and then I stumbled across Regent's MA program where half my coursework will be modular (meaning, I travel to campus once a semester to complete my classes). As I read over the Divinity school's website, I felt surges of energy and excitement as I reviewed the curriculum, the faculty members and their policy on women in the ministry (click here to go there) . Upon completing the application I was invited for an interview that was to last about 30 minutes but ran into over an hour. The spirit was strong in that meeting as I discussed my academic and spiritual rational for wanting to participate in this program. Of course, there was dialogue over my being LDS and what that  would mean on a campus of largely southern baptist/non denominational and evangelical persons. The interview was an incredible experience that left my heart racing and my emotions high. A few weeks later I was admitted into the program and thus start my journey this summer.

WHAT I WANT TO GAIN: I have always seen a gap in the LDS community when it comes to dialoguing with and about those of other faiths, particularly other Christian denominations. Feelings of being uncomfortable, hostility, superiority and pride usually set in on both sides when dialogue is attempted. In my professional environment I feel like I am often doing what I call "damage control" on behalf of my faith with those who have been hurt, confused or misled by a well intentioned blundering or over eager LDS person who left the friend not of our faith with a bitter taste in their mouth. I want to bridge this gap. I feel that by taking on this degree in a very unique environment  I will not only deepen my understanding of Christian history, Biblical hermeneutics and practical theology but more importantly I will be in a place that I feel the Lord wants me at this time.