June 13, 2017 | Hannah Ebeling

The Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship (CCCS), which offers grants to encourage faculty in the initiation, continuation and completion of scholarly projects related to the mission of the Center, recently announced it's annual awardees. The significance of such scholarship is often overlooked, according to Dale Williams, program manager of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship. “Most of us only see the results of faculty research and writing,” he said. “Many of us base our decisions about our health and other life matters on well-reasoned conclusions from research.”

“A lot of times scholarship isn’t the first thing Christians think to invest in," added David Urban, Calvin professor of English. "So it’s great to have someone who recognizes its value and invests in it."

Exploring theology and literature

Urban said he became a real believer in Christ during high school. After that, he developed an increasing interest in the great Christian poets. “I was able to take a course on Milton in college and really latched on to his work,” he said.

Urban became a professor at Calvin in 2003. At that time, he was just beginning to write his book, The Parabolic Milton: The Self and the Bible in John Milton’s Writings. “There’s been a lot of delays in my writing. I’ve published articles about this topic during the time, but I haven't really worked on the book throughout,” said Urban.

Urban has now completed the book and, thanks to the CCCS, is finishing up the publishing process.

Urban hopes the audience for this book will be both Milton scholars and students as well as anyone interested in the intersection between theology and literature.

Promoting Christian scholarship

“The CCCS is so important because it’s providing support for authors working on projects that are intentionally Christian. It’s important for Calvin to be a place where Christian scholarship is being done and being done well. It’s hard to get funding for that kind of thing,” said Urban.

This year the CCCS awarded seven additional grants to support faculty research and writing.

One of these grants was awarded to Jo-Ann VanReeuwyk, professor of art, to help fund an artists seminar in collaboration with Calvin’s Nagel Institute for the Study of Word Christianity and other professors from North America and Asia.

“The seminar is a two-week event but takes several years to prepare for and then a year or two afterwards to prepare the subsequent traveling art exhibition, said VanReeuwyk. “The CCCS has been a blessing for these experiences because they have helped fund parts of the preparations, the seminars and the resulting exhibition venues.”

Frans van Liere, professor of history, is working on a critical edition of the commentary on Isaiah by Andrew of Saint Victor, a 12th-century biblical scholar. The edition of this commentary was started by a German scholar at the University of Trier, who died before he could publish the results of his research, said van Liere. The publisher, Brepols in Belgium, asked van Liere to sort through the files and finish the project.

The CCCS is helping van Liere acquire microfilms of three medieval manuscripts, necessary for the completion of the commentary. “CCCS is important for the promotion of Christian scholarship, because this is a time of shrinking resources for scholarly work. Much of this kind of scholarship is done as a work of love, without any monetary reward. That CCCS now picks up the tab for these microfilms, I see as a sign of appreciation and encouragement.”

Religion professor Won Lee will be completing a commentary of the book of Amos. The CCCS will help Lee attend the Society of Biblical Literature International meeting in Berlin in August 2017, where his paper will be presented. 

The CCCS also awarded grants to classics professor David Noe to continue an online video service that teaches subscribers to translate Greek and Latin; to communication arts and sciences professor Sam Smartt to continue working on a science and faith film; and to communication arts and science professor Stacey Wieland to work on a project facilitating “Virtuous Conversations about Diverse Issues within the Church.”

“By supporting faculty research and writing, the vocation of the Christian professor is empowered to address current research and publish about issues of public concern that affect our world today,” said Williams.

Recent stories