Vox

Major Dr David Janssen

Meet some of our current students and recent graduates and hear about their journey to complete their studies.

Major Dr David Janssen
Doctor of Philosophy Graduate (2020)
Whitley College
Supervisors
Associate Professor Keith Dyer and Dr Rosemary Canavan
Thesis
Divine and Roman Warriors: The Roman Imperial Cuirass in 1 Thessalonians 5:1–10

The University of Divinity was an important choice for my research due to the significance of the resources that were accessible to me. This included library and digital resources and access to encouraging faculty. My supervisors as members of the UD were an incredibly attractive drive to study within universities research environment. They provided great encouragement and incisive questions about my research.

My thesis examined the way early Christian speech was informed by and reacted to the social environment in which early Jesus followers lived. How these early communities interacted with the social and physical context of the urban environment of Thessalonica was an important way in which early followers of Jesus formed and defined their identity.

I focused on two key parts of the environment. First, the Jewish traditions which included the Divine Warrior alluded to in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Second, the military statues of emperors and city officials known as Roman Imperial cuirass statues.

These statues portrayed civic virtue and honoured the emperor. They were accompanied by images of divine violence and symbols of power. In using the language of armour, I argue that does Paul not emphasise eschatological alertness or readiness for cosmic battle, but rather subverts the dominant power discourse and uses the images to focus on issues of community ethos: that is, locating the identity, behaviour and outlook of the community in a community where clear tensions are emerging because of their faithful response to Christ.

A key highlight of my study experience was a study trip to archaeological sites in Turkey, this was jointly sponsored by a UD research grant and my home institution. The visit allowed me to understand first-hand how ancient material artefacts are handled and the importance and limitations of their use in biblical interpretation.

I was able to meet a lot of amazing people who are engaging in all kinds of research in biblical and non-biblical fields of study and hear about the questions they were bringing to various archaeological settings.

Post-study I am continuing to work for my home college, Eva Burrows College, where I am applying the research in my teaching. I hope to publish my thesis and develop new research in areas that use ancient visual and material culture in order to better understand the experience of early Christian traditions. In terms of my career, I am using the skills developed in my Thesis to strengthen my role as an academic administrator and am keen to extend myself further in this area.

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