May 1, 2012
Second-year M Div student Alex Thompson is the 2012-2013 recipient of Emory’s Robert T. Jones Jr. Fellowship. The fellowship, which was inaugurated in 2008, provides full funding for one year of study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Fellows are selected based on their records of intellectual excellence and high potential for postgraduate success in their chosen field.
“The opportunity to study at such a prestigious university and under one of my favorite scholars, N.T. Wright, drove me to apply, as did the support of my undergraduate and Candler faculty,” says Thompson, who will pursue a Master of Letters in Scripture and Theology while at St. Andrews.
“This interdisciplinary program explores issues of biblical interpretation in dialogue with Christian history, hermeneutics, and systematic theology,” Thompson explains. “I hope to explore more fully the connections between these often disparate branches of theology, focusing specifically on the issues regarding Paul’s theology and his interpretation of the Old Testament.”
The Robert T. Jones Fellowship is open to students in any of Emory’s schools who wish to pursue graduate work in divinity, international relations or neuroscience at St. Andrews. It is distinct from the Robert T. Jones Scholarship, which was established in 1976 and is awarded to four students annually. Both the scholarship and the fellowship are named for internationally renowned golfer and Emory law school alum Bobby Jones.
Thompson, for his part, hopes to follow in the path of the fellowship’s namesake and explore the beautiful golf courses of St. Andrews, but he’ll be busy: In addition to his master’s program coursework, he plans on immersing himself in ancient Greek and German language studies in preparation for future doctoral work.
Thompson also hopes to connect to a worshipping community and continue to grow in the faith through daily practices of prayer and meditative reading, drawing inspiration from Scotland’s rich Christian heritage of monasticism and pilgrimage. “My plan is to grow not only academically, but spiritually, as I continue to explore my ministerial vocation,” he notes.
Thompson’s record at Candler is proof positive that he’ll be able to manage his multiple goals. He participates in morning prayer and mid-day Benedictine prayer and serves at Skyland United Methodist Church in Atlanta as part of his contextual education work. He is involved with the Candler Evangelical Society, plays drums for the Kairos worship team, and serves as a discussion group leader for a history of theology class. In January, he traveled to the Holy Land with the World Methodist Evangelism Institute (WMEI), and this summer, he will represent Candler at UMC annual conferences and serve as a contextual education leader for the Youth Theological Initiative (YTI).
Following graduation in 2014, Thompson hopes to pursue doctoral work in New Testament and early Christianity, as well as seek ordination as a UMC elder.