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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2004 News Archive > ACU professor receives stipend for humanities research and writing
Jeff Childers
Dr. Jeff Childers

ACU professor receives stipend for humanities research and writing

For immediate release
June 3, 2004

Dr. Jeff Childers, associate professor of Bible, ministry and missions, at Abilene Christian University received a $5,000 stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities for two consecutive months of full-time research and writing in the humanities for his work with Syriac texts.

Childers will spend the summer translating and editing Syriac manuscripts of John Chrysostom’s exegetical homilies, or sermons, and verse by verse commentaries for the first 30 chapters of the Gospel of John.  His research topic is "The Syriac Version of John Chrysostom’s Homilies on John 1-30."  The original manuscripts are on vellum, animal skin, and are kept at the British Library in London.  Childers is translating the text from microfilm that he received from the British Library. 

"Chrysostom was a Greek speaker, but he spent a lot of time traveling outside of Constantinople, the center of the Roman Empire," Childers said.  "People outside of the city spoke Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.  Chysostom’s original manuscripts were translated into Syraic and they have become the oldest available manuscripts of his original preaching and public speaking, dating as far back as the fifth century."

The translation has already been accepted for publication and will become part of a series of detailed Oriental Christian texts, a series that has approximately 600 volumes and has been in existence since 1901. 

This manuscript is a major Syriac text and is valuable in its own right to the Syriac faith, Childers said.  There are 88 homilies and 60 have survived in Syriac version, most of which come from the 400s, 500s, and 600s.   

"The translating and editing that I am doing is a lot of slogging through grammar and is not necessarily exciting work," Childers said.  "I will be standardizing the format, offering suggestions about what the text says when the vellum has been torn or water-stained, and making it available to scholars through its publication. The translations are necessary for those researching early Christian texts, and for modern publications."

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government supporting research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities.  For summer 2004, the NEH awarded $710,000 to 142 U.S. scholars providing an opportunity for them to devote two months to their chosen topic.

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