Two Recent Faculty Publications place both the Bible and the Culture of the Ancient Israelites into proper historical and cultural perspective
Dr. Victor Matthews (Associate Dean and Professor of REL) recently published two books on the history, culture and religion of the Ancient Israelites. His first book, The Prophets of Israel (Paulist Press, 2007) provides easy to understand answers to commonly asked questions. In some cases this means going into depth on a biblical narrative such as “Why do the 70 Elders prophesy in Num 11:25-26?” In other cases, the reader is provided basic information with background or social world details, such as “Why does Na’aman consult Elisha for a cure for his leprosy (1 Kgs 5)?” For the smaller prophetic books, there are brief summaries of their basic themes, and for the major prophets there are several entries that step through the prophet’s message, methods of delivery, and historical setting. Rounding out the collection are questions on different types of prophecy, including ecstatic and enacted. The answers are designed to aid the layperson, minister, or religious professional to more quickly gain a basic understanding of the biblical world and the role of the prophets.
Dr. Matthews second book, Studying the Ancient Israelites (Baker Academic, 2007) concludes that the Old Testament was not written in a vacuum, but rather it was written by and to a specific people who lived within specific social, historical, political, and literary contexts not only of their own culture but also of the surrounding peoples. Matthews argues that an understanding of ancient Israel and the ancient Near East is essential for proper interpretation of the Bible. With this as a goal, Studying the Ancient Israelites provides a guide to the tools, methods, and goals used by scholars in their the study of ancient Israel. The book also examines the insights that can be gained from historical geography, archaeological excavations and the examination of artifacts, literary study, sociological and anthropological methods, and historiography. In addition to explaining these fields of study and providing examples from biblical and extra-biblical literature, he also details the limitations of each of these disciplines in interpreting the Bible.
CHPA Researcher in the Center for Archaeological Research Publishes Valuable Guide to Understand the archaeological remains in the Ozarks
Jack Ray (CAR) recently published an important major resource guide describing the chipped stone archaeological remains found in the Ozarks. Ray’s new book, Ozarks Chipped-Stone Resources: A Guide to the Identification, Distribution, and Prehistoric Use of Cherts and Other Siliceous Raw Materials (2007) is a product of more than 25 years of research on the various raw materials in the Ozarks that prehistoric Native Americans used to make chipped-stone tools. The purpose of the book is to provide a reference source or guide to the bewildering array of chipped-stone (knappable) resources available in the Ozarks.
The book is divided into two parts which consist of chapters that provide a background to the discussion of chipped-stone resources in the Ozarks, including a historical sketch of chert research in the Ozarks, terminology related to various types of lithic resources, methods used to procure and organize collected field samples, and a discussion of modern flintknapping and potential negative consequences of this ever-growing hobby/industry. The second part of the book details the more than 60 types of chipped-stone raw materials that are found in the Ozarks. The descriptions of local Ozarks resources are divided into six chapters arranged chronologically by geological era and period. This second part is followed by three appendices, including one with 28 color illustrations of the major types and varieties of cherts and other lithic resources that were used in prehistoric times. Another appendix is a glossary, containing definitions of geological and archaeological terms used in the book.
This book is intended for professional archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, geologists, and other researchers and laypersons who may be interested in studying cherts and other chipped-stone resources in the Ozarks.
Center for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research (CSSPPR) Completes Major Research Projects
The Center for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research (CSSPPR) conducted several research projects last year. CSSPPR is operated by the CHPA and conducts applied social research for both public and private organizations. CSSPPR is directed by Dr. Gary Brinker, who also teaches in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology. Located in STRO 402, CSSPPR boasts a state-of-the-art computer-assisted telephone interviewing system. This software manages the sample, monitors interviewer productivity and facilitates rapid, high quality data collection.
This summer, CSSPPR completed a three-year evaluation of the Teaching American History Grant Program, a federally funded initiative directed by Dr. Marc Cooper and designed to provide opportunities for regional middle and high school teachers of History and social science to earn Masters Degrees working online during the school year and at seminars during the summer.
In August of 2006, CSSPPR conducted a survey of Springfield residents for the Community Partnership of the Ozarks to assess the effect of a community intervention to increase awareness of underage drinking and methamphetamine use.
In March of 2007, CSSPPR completed a study for the Missouri Partnership on Smoking, a special public service organization with the goal of reducing the negative impact of tobacco use on public health. CSSPPR surveyed 690 random adult residents of Missouri to measure their opinions on the use of settlement money from State sponsored law suits of the tobacco industry and why they may have voted for or against taxation of tobacco products to help pay for their negative health effects on the population. The results were used to formulate future strategies for addressing this health issue. Also in March of 2007, CSSPPR completed an evaluation of a federally funded grant obtained by the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging to develop a services directory for area senior citizens. CSSPPR did a panel study of a random sample of seniors to measure their satisfaction with the format and content of the directory, how often they used the directory and to what extent they shared the directory with friends and family.
In May of 2007, CSSPPR conducted a program evaluation of the Research Experience for Undergraduates in Mathematics. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, this program allows undergraduate math majors from around the state to travel to MSU and work with faculty in the Mathematics Department on cutting edge research projects. This evaluation will continue through two additional cohorts in the summers of 2008 and 2009.
Currently, CSSPPR is conducting a statewide survey for the Education Round Table, a group of prominent educators who work to enhance public education in Missouri. The survey measures opinions on the use of public funds to support private education in Missouri, as well as general opinions of the quality of public schools in their areas and for Missouri as a whole.