Joel Brown ('09) | Bible, Missions & Ministry

joel brown

Master of Divinity student, 
Graduate School of Theology

Not many undergraduate students have the chance to publish their research in a scholarly journal or see their names cited in an academic article. Joel Brown is one of the few.

In his third-year Greek class at ACU, taught by Dr. Curt Niccum, Joel and four other students had the opportunity to review another academic's conclusions and refute them in print. In the Greek grammar they used as a textbook, the author claimed that the verb "to worship" had two different forms, each with a different meaning.

An exhaustive search

Joel and fellow students - Ben Covington, Jake Lollar, Joshua White and Eric Gentry - pored through the Greek Old Testament, apocryphal literature, the New Testament and early Christian writings to seek out every instance of this verb, sorting through a large amount of material.

I have been challenged on many levels, and in many disciplines. [ACU] has achieved a healthy balance between focusing on the students' spiritual formation while at the same time providing them with a critical and rigorous education.

"To me, it was pretty impressive," said Dr. Niccum, associate professor of Bible at ACU.

The students discovered that the form of the verb didn't affect its meaning; actually, many biblical authors spoke Aramaic as their native language and had learned Greek as a second language, which made it easy for them to commit small grammatical errors. The difference in verb forms was a linguistic rather than a theological difference, they concluded.

Although this discovery may sound small, it has important repercussions on how to view biblical texts.

"This ends up being a reminder," Dr. Niccum said. "We really have to be careful to not read more out of the text than is actually there." 

Journal publication

Niccum also helped author the article, which is published in the current issue of Restoration Quarterly, an academic journal devoted to advancing knowledge and understanding of New Testament Christianity, its backgrounds, its history and its implications for the present age.

This wasn't Joel's only reseach opportunity as an undergraduate at ACU. He was also involved in a class assignment for third-year Greek participating in the International Greek New Testament Project, a multi-national effort to examine all the evidence for the Greek New Testament. The class took an unexamined Greek text and read it with an eye for detail and deeper meaning.

Participation in these projects has given Joel the academic confidence to pursue both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Theology. In the course of his studies, he has found that the Christian focus of his education has enhanced rather than detracted from its academic validity.

"I have been challenged on many levels, and in many disciplines," he said. "[ACU] has achieved a healthy balance between focusing on the students' spiritual formation while at the same time providing them with a critical and rigorous education." 

Learn more about attending ACU 


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