During my master’s program, I did an independent study on the Parable of the Sower and its rich reception history. Though scholarly interpretations vary among historical, literary, and social-scientific critics, all camps agree that the story makes for a poignant commentary on the human condition. The theological promise offered by the Kingdom of God calls attention to problems faced by those interested in a better life on Earth. But while the text enables one to enjoy dominion over a difficult circumstances, it equally facilitates the subordination of those who stand apart from the reader.
Put simply, one person’s hope for Heaven can become another person’s Hell realized. I observed expressions of these power dynamics in an ethnographic study of a Modern Yucatec Maya community and my historical study of agriculture in the Early Roman Levant. Primary ethnographic and archaeological research took place between 2006 and 2008. This ancient/modern comparison aims to inform those interested in culture, religion, and scriptures. Preliminary versions of this study were presented at Northaven United Methodist Church, the North Texas Conference UMC Project Transformation, Moody Memorial United Methodist Church, and Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.
Special thanks to the following research institutions for sharing their intellectual resources:
The Bethsaida Excavation Project welcomed me as a dig volunteer during their Summer 2007 season, generously showing me the tools of the trade and entertaining my many questions.
MRB introduced me to anthropology and brought no small amount of encouragement in my studies. I attended and worked at the ethnographic field school in Yaxunah on multiple occasions and served as a research assistant while a student at Texas Christian University.
Special thanks to the following organizations for their financial sponsorship:
The Biblical Archaeological Society awarded me a Dig Scholarship to help support my time in Israel Palestine.
The Forum for Theological Exploration’s Ministry Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to develop this project as part of my Master of Divinity program.
The John Hicks Fellowship in Biblical Studies provided funds to supply many of the materials used in the course my research and presentations.