Sep 30, 2008

New focus on Judaic stories

by Amanda Thomason

An increased interest in Judaic studies is sparking a new flame at Liberty. Recent work by Dr. Randall Price and his team has developed into the Center for Judaic Studies (CJS) — an effort to familiarize students with Jewish culture.

The CJS is a department formed to give students an opportunity to learn more about Judaic studies and will eventually offer an accredited degree. CJS hopes to become an independent school within Liberty, such as the Helms School of Government.
Price, the head of the department, is establishing CJS offices by forming a functional library from approximately 6,000 personal books. Various rooms will include a main library with general books, references, commentaries, the Torah and history, religion and hermaneutics books. A “rare book room” will be stacked with books and journals from the pre-1900s.

Plans also include research centers with Hebrew and Greek learning tools and an archaeological research center. The library will not be open to all students initially, but when the center is fully established and students begin taking Judaic Studies classes, it will be fully functional.

The CJS was a vision of Dr. Jerry Falwell. According to Price, Falwell wanted to launch a center with the purpose of preparing students with the opportunity to learn more about the Jewish community, history and the importance of supporting the state of Israel today. In January of 2007, Price and his wife, Beverlee, met with Falwell to discuss the plans.

“The Center’s goal is to continue to foster this significant relationship by helping Liberty students develop a positive understanding of the Jewish people by strengthening the relationship between the evangelical Christian community, the Jewish people and Israel,” Price said.

Students can be involved in the center right now while accruing Christian Service hours. Their duties will include organizing books and helping set up the library by category.

“Judaic Studies actually has nothing to do with my major. It’s freshness and newness is what drew me to it,” sophomore Monica Munevar said. “I like being involved with building things from the ground up and getting things started. I think that this center is a great resource for students and offers endless knowledge.”

An archaeological excavation in Israel will be hosted through the center and is open for students from Liberty and other colleges. The dig will be from Dec. 7-23, 2008, in Qumran (site of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and will give students the ability to immerse themselves in Israel’s history and culture.

Three credit hours in BIBL 472, “Field Archaeology,” will be offered to those who go on the trip. The deadline to secure a spot is Oct 1. More information can be found at www.worldofthebible.com.

The founding of the Liberty Biblical Museum is another goal that Price and the team are pursuing for the future. Price invited James Fowler to assist in the process of the Center as his Graduate/Research Assistant.

“There was not a lot of planning time for the center at first, but in God’s providence it has turned out to be the perfect position for me,” Fowler said. “Both Dr. Price and I love books and research, so our personalities mesh very well together.”

After postgraduate studies in Semitic languages and archaeology, Price was able to study under Jewish and Israeli professors while he worked for a doctoral program in Jewish studies. He has met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Price founded the World of the Bible Ministries, Inc. in 1993, and through it has authored books and produced films for television.

“A goal of the center will be to promote such an understanding in order to set Liberty graduates at the forefront of advancing the support of national Israel and continuing Dr. Falwell’s legacy of being recognized as the Jewish people’s dearest friends,” Price said.

 


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