By Susannah Waite
Several religion students had the opportunity to work on a unique project this semester with the Wimberly School of Religion.
Ethan Watt, religion and youth ministry senior, was one of four students who worked to translate and interpret a Dead Sea scroll, an ancient Hebrew text.
The school received the text from the Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of retail stores, to work on.
“They knew we focus on Biblical language here, and gave us the opportunity to do a work-study course over the piece,” Watt said.
The group first translated the piece, then identified its location in the Bible and began a critical analysis of the piece.
“It’s kind of a natural flow anytime you a see a language; you begin to read and translate, then figure out the identification,” Watt said. “The critical analysis is the longest part.”
During the course, a professor directed the students’ efforts, and each student worked on independent research separate from the course material.
“The end goal is to have a published article about the piece we received,” Watt said.
The students hope to get their material published in a museum or Hebrew Bible commentary.
The group is currently near the end of their critical analysis.
“We have parts of the text we can’t decide on,” Watt said. “We don’t feel we are accurately able to describe part of it.
“We are trying to figure out how to describe that part now.”
The study has been a unique opportunity not just for him as a student, but also within his field, Watt said.
“Most people in this field don’t get to see their text,” Watt said. “We got to see it and hold it in our hands.”
The students also will make valuable connections as a result of their research.
“I have an opportunity to go work an internship for the Green family later on,” Watt said.