April 26, 2017

Maria Enid Rodriguez, a doctoral student in the School of Theology and Religious Studies, was recently honored by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) with a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Awarded to 65 fellows annually, this fellowship supports a year of research and writing for advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. The fellowship includes a $30,000 stipend, with additional research funding.

Rodriguez earned her M.A. in biblical studies at the University in 2013 and is currently pursuing her doctorate in biblical studies. She will use the fellowship to complete her dissertation, which compares the use of the phrase, “Word of God,” in Neo-Assyrian prophecies, Hebrew writings in the Old Testament, the Greek writings of Luke-Acts in the New Testament, and Arabic prophetic literature in the Qur’an.

“There’s clearly a need throughout humanity to use this phrase, but it doesn’t function the same ways in all these different texts,” said Rodriguez. “This is in one sense a linguistic study, framed within the cognitive science of religion, looking at how people think about religion and how we receive data. It’s looking at how our minds work and how language works, and looking at both of those together to understand how that phrase functions in prophetic language.”

David Bosworth, associate professor of Old Testament who serves as Rodriguez’s advisor, said her dissertation contributes to “the nascent and timely field of comparative scriptures.”

“This comparative work involving the Bible and Qur’an has recently come into high demand in academia, and Maria has learned the requisite languages to pursue this work in a substantive and scholarly way,” he said.

Rodriguez said she believes work like hers is valuable because understanding a culture’s prophetic literature can lead to a better understanding of the religious beliefs and traditions they may hold. She is currently teaching a class comparing the Bible with the Qur’an for students interested in this kind of comparative work.

“Because of our current political situation, everyone has more of an awareness of the effect that religious beliefs can have on the decisions that are made,” said Rodriguez. “When you study those texts together, you get a better understanding of what’s in the texts, what is actually said, and how that informs a culture’s theology and ways of thinking.”

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