TWU granted $1.4 million for Canada Research Chair

These texts have the power to confirm or dispute biblical accuracy, and provide a window for understanding the Jewish background of Christianity—a faith many Canadians lay claim to. According to a recent Census (2001), 78% of Canadians—four out of every five—say they identify themselves with the Judeo-Christian faith in some form.

Affirming the importance of Dead Sea Scrolls research in Canada, on November 12, 2004, The Canada Research Chairs program (CRC) announced the new university Chairs, appointing Peter Flint, PhD, a Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Studies. TWU joins UBC and McMaster in representing Canada's three Chairs in the area of religious studies; however, TWU's is the first and only tier one appointment in the field. Tier one Research Chairs are granted $200,000 per year in research funds for seven years (tier two receive $100,000 for five)—and are reserved for professors acknowledged as international leaders in their field. An author of numerous Scrolls-related books and the official editor of the Isaiah Scroll and 24 others, Flint will now be able to pursue Dead Sea Scrolls research more readily—and he'll be doing so in Canada.

The federally funded Chair Program exists to strengthen research excellence in Canada, plugging the “brain drain” to the U.S. and attracting the brightest and the best to Canada. The CRC is helping Canadian universities and affiliates become world-class centres of research and research training. It also helps enhance Canada's competitiveness in the global economy, improves Canadians' health, and enriches their social and cultural life.

"We're proud that the funding announced today will support research by Canada's leading scholarly and scientific minds," said Prime Minister Martin. "From health care, to the environment, to building stronger communities, the work of these Canada Research Chairs will have a direct impact on the lives of Canadians and help position Canada as a world leader in the 21st century economy."

And Canada is making headway in this leadership by promoting relevant social science research. Though the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered over 50 years ago, it is only recently that scholars have been able to properly study them.

“Because of the vast number of scrolls discovered, the difficulty in reading the scripts, and limited access to the scrolls, scholars world-wide have only recently begun researching and publishing on a more extensive basis,” explains Flint, who co-authored The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the book awarded The best book in Biblical Studies from the Biblical Archaeology Society (2002). “With this Chair we will be able to strengthen TWU's research team and further build the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, and Religious Studies program,” says Flint.

A bench-mark of the shift in access is the Scroll's arrival to Canada's Museum of Civilization (September 2003 to April 2004)—and the most well attended lectures ever—and the Houston Museum of Natural Science (September 2004 to December 2004). Both Flint and colleague Martin Abegg, PhD, authority on the War Scrolls and co-director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, were invited lecturers at both museums. Flint will conclude the series of guest lectures in Houston on December 2.

The grant will provide research assistantships for graduate students, enabling their participation in scrolls research and in new and unique opportunities. It will also allow TWU's scrolls researchers to attend international conferences, purchase specialized translating computer equipment and create more of a physical presence for the Institute on campus. The research funds also benefit the community, enabling world renowned Dead Seas Scrolls scholars to lecture at TWU.

Mark Charlton, PhD, Dean of Research and Faculty Development, recognizes that though this is a specific Research Chair, the benefits have repercussions for the entire university. “The Chair affirms the quality of research taking place at the university,” he explains. “It publicly recognizes that we have top researchers working at very high levels—some of the best in the country. I anticipate this will facilitate further grant applications.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-20
Author: Keela Keeping