GWU Studies Help Graduate Connect Research with Faith

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Ph.D. candidate Scott Ryan (’03) Explores Writings of Paul

As a religious studies and philosophy major at Gardner-Webb, Scott Ryan received the Greek Award and the Christian Service Award. After graduation, he was accepted to Duke University Divinity School, where he received Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees and was honored with the Excellence in Bible Award for his graduating class.

Ryan is currently a candidate for the Ph.D. in New Testament at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with an anticipated graduation date of 2016, writing his dissertation on the Apostle Paul’s adaptations of divine conflict themes in the letter to the Romans. He is a recipient of the Donald and Judy Schmeltekopf Fellowship for Educational Leadership. Named for the University’s past provost, the prestigious fellowship selects candidates to learn more about higher education administration through a year-long mentorship. He also teaches an undergraduate course: The Christian Scriptures.

“Gardner-Webb introduced me to the critical study of the Scriptures and showed me the intimate connection between rigorous academic research and the life of faith,” Ryan shared. “Under the direction of great professors, I discovered a passion for the canonical texts, the environments out of which they arose, and the languages in which they were written.”

Ryan considers Mt. Pleasant, N.C., home, although his family has lived various places in North Carolina. His wife, LeAnne Spruill Ryan, is also a graduate of GWU and Duke Divinity. They have a son, Asher, who was born in April 2015. 

Ryan’s research interests include the Pauline Epistles, Israel’s Scripture in the New Testament, Pauline Soteriology, the Gospel of Mark, Material Culture (Pompeii and Herculaneum), Second Temple Judaism(s) and Jewish Messianism. He has published in journals such as New Testament Studies, Perspectives in Religious Studies, and Baptist History & Heritage. His latest research project is “Toward an Appreciation of the Letter to the Laodiceans,” with Bruce. W. Longenecker.

“My current research addresses the Apostle Paul’s adaptations of Jewish divine conflict motifs in the letter to the Romans,” he explained. “In this study, first I examine how Jewish authors prior to and roughly contemporary with Paul depict God as a warring deity in their writings, and then place these findings in conversation with Paul’s gospel in Romans.”

Ryan proposes that Paul both utilizes these traditional motifs and transforms them in compelling ways, which has significant impact on Paul’s Christology. His next project will attempt to bring this angle of inquiry into conversation with archaeological evidence from the material world.

“Gardner-Webb laid the proper academic foundation, which allowed me to progress into mature research that hopefully will benefit the academy and the church,” he said.