The Center for the Study of Ancient Religious Texts opened Thursday in conjunction with the 30th annual Carmichael-Walling lectures.
The new center, or CSART, will provide an opportunity for faculty and students to collaborate in cutting edge research of ancient texts. Dr. Jeff Childers, director of the CSART, said the center’s participants have already begun engaging in global partnerships, one of which is with St. Catherine’s monastery.
On Thursday, Father Justin, a librarian in the monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai, Egypt, delivered three lectures about the treasures of the monastery.
Childers said as part of global research teams, students will learn to study the languages and techniques for understanding ancient texts in addition to developing Christian scholarship. One of those teams includes the Greek New Testament project, in which students contribute in producing a definitive, critical edition of the Greek New Testament.
“We live in a time when people are very interested in going back to the original sources,” Childers said. “We are able to shine a light on some of the most fascinating episodes in Christian tradition.”
The opportunity is open to all students, but Childers said mostly students who are skilled in ancient languages, no matter their major, can be involved in the research. Ancient languages include Ethiopic (ancient Ethiopian), Coptic, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Resident Ethiopic expert Dr. Kurt Niccum, professor of Bible, will continue his research of Ethiopic texts, some of which are housed on campus in the Brown Library.
“We have so many faculty here who have exceptional expertise in ancient languages and texts,” Childers said.
Childers, Carmichael-Walling professor, teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on church history and history of Christian spirituality. He visited Egypt with his daughter for honors research, and said he hopes the CSART will allow more students to travel in the future.