Julianne Burnett is a part-time PhD student at Nazarene Theological College, Manchester (NTC). Based in Mississippi, U.S.A. Julianne is researching perceptions of the Old Testament figure of Moses as a wonder-worker and, possibly, magician in the context of ancient Egyptian magic and religious beliefs. Julianne, who had studied the topic earlier for her MA in biblical studies at University of Exeter, found it so fascinating that she wanted to delve into it much deeper with a PhD!
The more I studied, the more I loved it. It was mostly out of personal curiosity.
Julianne’s BA was in theology and after her MA at Exeter, she went on to complete another MA in theology from Wesley Biblical Seminary. “I suppose I find the study of God, and how others perceive God, is quite interesting intellectually but also personally. It’s an area that affects everyone, whether they know it or not.”
Studying at NTC
Julianne’s sister and several of her friends had completed degrees through NTC, and they all spoke well of their time with the College. So when she was ready to start her doctoral studies, NTC was a natural choice. She enrolled in 2012, visits the College once or twice a year, and has found it to be a “very positive experience.”
“The PhD program here has a good reputation for academic excellence and also welcoming environment, a friendly community,” she says. “I would say between the University of Manchester library resources, the seminars, and my supervisor here, I’m able to cover my topic adequately.”
Julianne’s study of Egyptian religious beliefs is uncovering some interesting context surrounding the narrative in the Old Testament book of Exodus of Moses’ confrontation with the pharaoh and all the wonders that Moses performed to persuade the pharaoh to release the Hebrew slaves. “You have an ancient Near Eastern context that is saturated with magic and religious questions and a worldview that perceives the divine and the earthly spheres as being deeply intertwined,” she says.
What I’m finding interesting is the socio-historical context behind the biblical narrative, and seeing in what ways the context helps us understand the nuances in the biblical text. The biblical message is clear in the book of Exodus that Israel’s God is unique and all-powerful, above all rulers, institutions, and gods of the ancient world. Yahweh is to be worshipped alone and have the undivided devotion of His people.
Julianne hopes that her studies will tell people more about the intricacies of the Hebrew Bible, the nature of God, and contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the importance of historical and cultural context surrounding religious understanding.
Julianne is also an adjunct lecturer with Ohio Christian University, where she teaches online classes in Old Testament, New Testament, Theology and Worldviews. The experience is confirming her desire to teach theology full-time at university level in the future.