Biblical scholar will retrace apostle’s path
Theology professor Steven Bridge received this year's faculty development grant of $12,000, which will allow him to study abroad for weeks at a time over the next three years. Next spring, Dr. Bridge will go to Jerusalem for two months where he will begin his research on the Apostle Paul. He plans to travel through Turkey and Greece during his second year, and visit Rome during the third year.
After finishing the two books "Getting the Gospels" and "Getting the Old Testament," Bridge hopes to complete his series with an installment on the Pauline letters. "I'm very excited," he says. "I'll be in the same towns where Paul stayed and see firsthand these places he wrote about." Bridge wants to use his experience to make the Pauline literature more accessible to others.
"The main goal is to understand [Paul's] writing from an historical point of view. I'll be able to put the letters in an historical context... and hopefully gain a better understanding and interpretation of them," he says of his research.
Bridge's aptly named grant proposal, "In the Footsteps of Paul," details his desire to trace the movements of the apostle from his early ministry in Israel, through his missionary work in Turkey and Greece, and then to Rome, the final location of his ministry and where he was buried. Bridge will visit libraries, churches, and other sites mentioned in Paul's writings to gain insight into the historical, cultural, geo-political, socio-economic, literary, philosophical and theological contexts that influenced the Pauline literature. "There's actually a theater mentioned in many of the letters that is still standing," Bridge mentions. "[This experience] will allow me to gain a better grasp of Paul's mindset when he was writing. It's really pretty cool."
Bridge hopes his pilgrimage will open doors for future students from Saint Joseph's College to study abroad. By visiting a variety of areas, Bridge is determined to build local connections through which students can explore the culture and history outside of tourism-geared programs. He also plans to bring his experience into the classroom. "Through such venues as...
a Pauline Literature course... I intend to share the fruits of my research experiences," Bridge states. With the help of a colleague, Bridge discovered Tantur, the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies in Jerusalem. Owned by the Catholic Church and leased to the University of Notre Dame, the institute welcomed him to reside at the institute as a visiting scholar.
by Sadie Fenton '10