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Dr. William Rutherford, assistant professor in Christianity and biblical languages, recently had an article accepted by the Harvard Review for publication in January.
The article, titled “Reinscribing the Jews: The Story of Aristides’ Apology 2.2-4 and 14.1b-15.2,” explores what the earliest form of the text of “Apology” by Aristides looked like.
Rutherford said scholars and theologians are now working to address this topic after more than a century of puzzlement.
He first became aware of the issue during his doctoral studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he worked on a draft of the article and was able to finalize his argument after receiving his doctorate.
Rutherford explained that the process of submitting an article and having it accepted is very time intensive. This article took two years from the time it was submitted to be accepted for publication.
“Once I submitted the article, it went through three stages of peer-review before it was finally accepted for publication,” Rutherford said. “It is presently in the copy edit process, where the publisher prepares the document for print.”
John Wethington, a master’s student in theological studies, said having published authors as teachers shows the global impact of their fields.
“I think it encourages students to see that the things we are learning actually go beyond our school,” he said.
There are several different theories that surround the text’s origins.
“According to church tradition, ‘Apology’ was written in the early second century under the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian,” Rutherford said. “The title of the work, which was added by a later editor, ascribes the text to Aristides, an early Christian philosopher.”
“Apology” exists in several different forms but for the purpose of Rutherford’s argument, he found that the versions written in Greek and Syriac were the most important.
Rutherford added that these two translations are not identical, specifically in their representation of the Jews. The Greek text offers a more negative view of the Jews and their history, while the Syriac version has a positive view of the Jews, he said.
“In my article, I propose that the Syriac text of chapters 2.2-4 and 14.1b-15.2 best preserves the structure of the original ‘Apology’ and Aristides’ rather favorable attitude towards the Jews,” Rutherford said. He added that one major editorial change during the period between the third and fifth centuries produced the version of the text that is now preserved according to the Greek manuscript tradition.
“Through tracing the history of this text, we see a shift in attitudes toward the Jews in some Christian communities,” Rutherford said. “A rather favorable assessment of the Jews in the early second-century “Apology” gave way to a quite negative valuation in the third- to fifth-century form of that text.”
Rutherford said this topic is important because it provides context for the study of Christianity.
Many professors also have works published in several different scholarly journals and books.
Dr. Joseph Blair, chair of the department of theology, said that it is wise for professors to publish scholarly materials because it helps the professor stay aware of current developments in their field.
Rutherford said it is important for scholars to continue publishing throughout their careers because it shows evidence of development by the professor in both a scholarly and personal sense.
These professors can also help the reputation of the University.
Blair said that having professors on campus who are published authors might help bolster the reputation of the University and draw students to the school.
Furthermore, Blair said that having published professors benefits students who take classes from them because they are listening to lectures by professors who have committed themselves to extra study on a particular facet of their field.