Rarely does one recognize the anonymous voice heard in a commercial, on the radio, or during an audio guided tour through a museum as a familiar friend or friendly acquaintance. However, that is exactly what happened to me as I turned on the audio headset at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University last weekend. Familiar voices from my Old Testament, New Testament, and Introduction to Preaching classes filled my ears and immediately transported me back to the Candler School of Theology classroom, a place of exploration and creative learning.
With my parents in town, a trip to the museum, also a place of exploration and creative learning was a perfect Saturday afternoon activity for us. The Carlos, which sits on the quadrangle at Emory directly across from Cannon Chapel, currently has a ground breaking special exhibit, The Cradle of Christianity, Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Lands, which is here until October 14, 2007. Not only is it important for Emory to house such an amazing exhibit of Jewish and Christian artifacts, but the Carlos Museum is only one of three U.S. venues exhibiting this traveling collection of biblical archaeology. That in and of itself makes the exhibit appealing, but when learning that some of Candler’s best and brightest faculty would be featured on the audio guided tour, I could not resist checking it out.
Entering the section of the exhibit focusing on the Time of Jesus and the Second Temple Period, Dr. Gail R. O’Day, Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and A.H. Shatford Professor of Preaching and New Testament at Candler School of Theology, could be heard through the guided tour. I was already impressed with both the exhibit and Dean O’Day, but in that moment, as I heard the familiar voice of my preaching professor, I became more impressed with my seminary and degree from Candler School of Theology. I know the competitive enrollment statistics of our student body and have read the biographies of our diverse and widely published faculty, but in that moment, I was blown away at the leading role Candler faculty was taking in this university and community wide project. Our faculty, from the most well known to the most recently hired, are all teaching and advising students. However, through this exhibit, it became clear to me that they are not only in the classroom, not only on the covers of the books seminarians and theologians around the world read, but they are also leaders across the entire community as well as ambassadors of Candler and Emory for visitors to the museum. And these are the great scholars I got to take classes from!
I felt like I was privy to an inside joke, and in a way, as a Candler alumna, I am. I wanted to share with the museum visitor next to me that Candler students affectionately call Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson, another expert voice along the way on the audio tour, who is the R.W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, “LTJ” for short. And does the Sunday School class touring the exhibit know that Dr. Carol Newsom, who passionately teaches tour goers about the Dead Sea Scrolls on the audio guide, who is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament, that she used to hide under her bed covers as a little girl reading the Old Testament by flash light long after her parents thought she was asleep? After a full year of Old Testament studies with Dr. Newsom and another year of New Testament exploration with “LTJ,” I have the insider scoop about the life and teaching behaviors of these voices projecting through my audio headset and the headsets of the thousands of people who are touring this terrific exhibit at the Carlos.
As I entered the section of the collection exhibiting the remains and ruins of an ancient Byzantine era church, I hear another familiar voice. It is not a voice from the classroom, though he certainly teaches, but a voice from a worship memory of mine. In fact, no one could ever recreate the powerful feeling of the Holy Spirit I experienced during a worship service in Cannon Chapel lead by Dr. Richard Valantasis, Professor of Ascetical Theology and Christian Practice and Director of Anglican Studies at Candler and audio tour guide in the Rise of Christianity section. It was one of my most memorable and moving services I attended at Candler as he invited us into worship and led us on that day. As I browsed the books in the museum gift shop and walked back to my car, I realized how much I internalized and retained from the exhibit because I was hearing familiar voices guide me through the collection—voices I have worshipped alongside, voices I have studied under, voices who wrote the textbooks I read, voices I consider mentors, and voices connected to a life that I know well through the Candler community.
If you are interested in being in dialogue with these voices mentioned above and others or feel like Candler is a community calling you here for theological study and exploration, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at www.candler.emory.edu/admissions/ and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at www.facebook.com.
By Lane Cotton Winn 07T
Candler School of Theology
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern
For more information about the Cradle of Christianity exhibit check it out on the Carlos Museum website at http://www.carlos.emory.edu/cradle/
Photo by Jon Rou from the June 11, 2007 Emory Report: http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2007/June/June%2011/Cradle.htm