Thursday, August 2, 2012

December 2011 Newsletter for Research Professionals

The Newsletter for Research Professionals:     
Holiday Edition - December 2011
The holiday season is busy busy busy but that doesn’t mean the world of research stands still and so in many respects this time of the year is optimal for getting involved in serious job searching. Many businesses continue to recruit through the festive season and sending out applications during this time may lend you an air of seriousness appealing to employers.
Often when we think about research occupations marketing and medical sciences come to mind. It is interesting at this time of the year to contemplate theological research and archaeology. Those two staples of human growth and development which continue to fascinate and perplex.

Theological research

Theological research is all about looking at biblical writings or historic religious artifacts. Theological research by definition speaks of the divine and human encounter, and takes place in a community of people.  To speak of community and communication is to speak historically in terms of people, times and places.   Researchers cannot interpret religious resources apart from the shared meaning that develops in community around these resources.  Theological research calls the seminarian or the student of theology to reflect on his or her tradition, experience and faith journey, in other words, to examine his or her soul.  Theological research is in this way, often an extension of self-hood.

By definition, theological research is a critical juncture that places the researcher in relation to God and humanity, uniting the life of the mind with the life of the soul in the context of community. Research involves interaction with texts that provide new knowledge or understanding, and requires dialogical communication with people, directly and through texts.  A theological researcher will participate in a socialization process by which he or she will learn the language the theological research as well as the language of information organization.  In a seminary, this socialization process includes spiritual formation within a theological community.  

In terms of study as a spiritual work, nothing promises the researcher a higher concentration of this interrelatedness than a theological library formed by a theological community.  This community shapes the interpretive lens through which seminarians study and research theology—from the way faculty carry out instruction to the criteria librarians follow in collection development.  The community life of a seminary includes every social dimension of the institution. Theological Research rarely takes place in solitude, but builds on the efforts of community and previous discovery.  The theology library concentrates texts through its collections based on religious history and tenet and thus enhances these ideas. In the context of a library, the researcher interacts with multiple texts to discover unrealized connections in the interrelationships of these resources.  Of course, the researcher cannot simply bring together texts and expect related ideas to emerge from those resources.  The key task is the exploration of related texts and ideas through the library’s system of organization.  
Library research presumes a measure of focus, even though the researcher may only discern a visceral need for information.  No researcher could expect new knowledge to emerge from a random approach to resources.   To conduct research efficiently, the researcher must develop a clear focus on a research problem just as he or she would in any other research field.  Theological research according to the interpretive model requires the dialogical subjectivity that emerges from a hermeneutic of love. This is perhaps the primary distinction of theological research.


“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
  Eden Phillpotts

Archaeology & religious research

An extension of the philosophical research undertaken in theology archaeologists are often faced with the discovery of artifacts which carry implications for religion. It is their job to interpret the time and purpose of such artifacts and to work with theologists to understand meaning.

Religion can be defined as being concerned with the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe and from a research perspective, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, the investigation of devotional and ritual observances, religious artifacts and the moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.  Archaeologists may study the material traces of religious ritual, for example, the ritual destruction of ceramic vessels or the material religious sacrifice. Wikipedia points out that as in religious studies and the anthropology of religion, many archaeologists differentiate between “world religions,” and “traditional” or “indigenous religions.”

Here world religion is being defined as:

·         Based on written scriptures.
·         Has a notion of salvation, often from outside.
·         Universal, or potentially universal.
·         Can subsume or supplant primal religions.
·         Often forms a separate sphere of activity.

while indigenous religions are defined as:

  • Oral, or if literate, lacks written/formal scriptures and creeds.
  • ‘This worldly’.
  • Confined to a single language or ethnic group.
  • Form basis from which world religions have developed.
  • Religious and social life is inseparable.

The archaeology of religion often also incorporates related anthropological or religious concepts and terms such as magic, tradition, symbolism, and the sacred.

“The effort to reconcile science and religion is almost always made, not by theologians, but by scientists unable to shake off altogether the piety absorbed with their mother's milk.
H.L. Mencken

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To all of our members and guests, we welcome you and thank you for your ongoing interest. We hope you have enjoyed the information provided here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this and any other aspect of our site, please contact us anytime.

We would like to thank you for your support throughout 2011 and wish you all the best in life for 2012. Whatever your religious denomination (or not) from the team at - Happy Holidays!


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