Current Fellows (2013-14)

Daniel Becerra, PhD student, Duke University

Daniel Becerra is a first-year PhD candidate in the study of Religion, focusing on Early Christianity at Duke University. He received a BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University and a MTS in New Testament and Early Christianity from Harvard Divinity School. His research focuses on moral and spiritual formation in early Christianity and its intersection with theology, selfhood, and society. He is particularly interested in the various conceptions of the “ideal” or “virtuous” way to live articulated in early and late antique Christian literature, as well as in the pedagogical methods and “spiritual exercises” at work in Christian efforts to transform and to conform the self to these conceptions.

Michael Biggerstaff, PhD student, Ohio State University

Michael Biggerstaff is currently a PhD student in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University. Michael received a BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Brigham Young University and an MA in Religious Studies: Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University. Michael’s current research focuses on human-divine communication in ancient Israel and her Near Eastern neighbors.

Bryan R. Bozung, MA student, Yale University Divinity School

Bryan Bozung is currently in his second year at Yale University completing a Master of Arts in Religion, concentrating on Second Temple Judaism. Bryan received a BS in Economics from Brigham Young University. His interests include the archaeology, history, and literature of the Second Temple period.

Don Bradley, MA student, Utah State University

Carl Cranney, PhD candidate, The Catholic University of America

Ryan Davis, PhD Candidate, University of Texas, Austin

Ryan C. Davis has been a PhD student in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East at the University of Texas at Austin since 2010. Before coming to Texas, he received a BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies in 2008 from Brigham Young University, and an MA in Hebrew Bible in 2010 from Vanderbilt University. Ryan is primarily interested in seeing the Old Testament in its ancient Near Eastern context, particularly in the light of cuneiform texts.

Alexander Douglas, PhD candidate, Harvard University

Alex Douglas originally hails from Atlanta, Georgia, but he has spent most of the past decade living in Boston and studying at Harvard. After earning his Bachelor’s degree there in Economics, he switched his focus and got his Master’s in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and he is currently in his third year of a Ph.D. program in the Old Testament. In addition to his studies, he teaches early-morning Seminary, he has taught Institute classes at Boston University and for his stake, and he teaches Biblical Hebrew at Harvard. His wife Celeste earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Boston University, and they are currently expecting their first child.

Luke Drake, PhD student, University of North Carolina

Luke Drake is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specializing in ancient Mediterranean religions. He received a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University and an M.T.S. in New Testament and Early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. Luke's research interests include early Christian apocrypha, ancient and contemporary reception and interpretation of scripture, and the development of Christian doctrine.

Mark Ellison, PhD student, Vanderbilt University

Mark Ellison is a PhD student in early Christianity and early Christian art at Vanderbilt University. He earned an M.A. in Religious Studies (history and archaeology of Christianity and Judaism in late antiquity) from the University of South Florida, and an M.Ed. and B.A. from Brigham Young University. He also studied New Testament Greek at St. Petersburg Theological Seminary. From 1990–2013 he worked full-time for LDS Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. His research interests include the functions of early Christian art and its relationship to Christian texts, marriage and celibacy in early Christianity, families and the house-church setting, and the physical spaces of early Christian liturgy.

Alan Farnes, MA student, Duke University

Alan Taylor Farnes graduated from BYU in 2012 in Ancient Near Easter Studies (Greek option) with minors in Classics and Music with University Honors. He is currently completing a Master’s Degree at Duke University in Religion with an emphasis on the New Testament. Alan continues to specialize as a text critic and papyrologist and wrote his Master’s thesis on the intersection of text critical theories with those of source criticism. He looks forward to applying to PhD programs soon.

Lincoln Hale, PhD student, Claremont Graduate University

Lincoln Hale earned a Master of Theological Studies in Ancient Biblical Studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D in the History of Christianity program at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA. His interests include Coptic studies, ancient languages, and Mormon studies. He has presented research on topics ranging from monasticism to Latter-day Saint canon. He is currently the Vice President of the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association. Lincoln served an LDS mission in Romania from 1999-2001. He and his wife, Anna, have a son and two daughters.

Jared M. Halverson, PhD student,  Vanderbilt University

Jared Halverson is a PhD student at Vanderbilt University, studying American religious history. He previously earned a BA in history and an MA in religious education from Brigham Young University, and an MA in American religious history from Vanderbilt. Jared's research focuses on inter-religious and anti-religious rhetoric, especially in popular polemics over scriptural interpretation during the antebellum period. He has taught in the Church Educational System since 1998 and is currently the director of the Nashville Tennessee Institute of Religion.

Trevan Hatch,  PhD student, Louisiana State University

Trevan G. Hatch received a B.A. in history at Brigham Young University, a M.A. in Jewish studies at Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University, and is currently a PhD student in family studies specializing in religion and Jewish family life at Louisiana State University. He is also pursuing doctoral education in Jewish studies at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago and has taken graduate courses in biblical studies in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of the Holy Land. Trevan G. Hatch was a 2009 research fellow at the Maxwell Institute under the direction of Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow where he researched and presented on the gathering of the Jews and Tribes of Israel according to Parley and Orson Pratt. He has a passion for researching and writing on topics of religion, especially pertaining to Judaism and Mormonism. He is married to the former Megan Gardner and they are the proud parents of three children.

Courtney Innes, PhD student, University of British Columbia

Courtney Innes is currently a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of British Columbia. She has been drawn to archaeology since childhood so it made sense she would receive her BA in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archeology from Brigham Young University. She attained her MSt in Jewish-Christian Relations from Christ's College in the University of Cambridge. She wrote her master's dissertation on Jewish and Christian burial practices in Lower Egypt in the Greco-Roman period. She has excavated Nabatean tombs in Petra, Jordan; conducted archaeological surveys of, and excavated, Jewish homesteads and burials in Tel Gezer, Israel; supervised archaeological excavations at Tel es-Safi, Israel; and excavated Coptic burials in Egypt. She has been certified as a conservationist through UNESCO’s and the Israeli Antiquities Authority’s Conservation Training Program.

Brad Kramer, PhD candidate, University of  Michigan

Brad Kramer is a PhD candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, specializing in religion and semiotics. He holds a Master's degree in US History from the University of Utah as well as Bachelor's degrees from the U of U and BYU. His current research examines the cultural productivity of verbal taboos and structured silences in Mormon discourse, and the role patterns of unmentionability play in the enactment of Mormon gender and Mormon kinship. He currently lives with his family in Sandy, Utah.

Jacob Moody, PhD student, Andrews University

Jacob Moody is currently a PhD candidate at Andrews University pursuing a degree in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology. He received his MA from Andrews in Biblical Archaeology and his BS from BYU in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. For the past two years Jacob has also worked as the assistant curator at the Siegfried Horn Archaeological Museum. He has been excavating every summer since 2007 and has been a supervisor at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Tall Jalul, and Tell Gezer. Jacob's research interests include Near Eastern terracotta figurines, small finds curation, and the Late Bronze to Iron Age transition in the material culture of the Levant. He is currently working on the Shechem small finds volume.

Brady Pope, PhD candidate, Vanderbilt University

Brady Pope is a PhD student in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel at Vanderbilt University. Brady received a BA in Religious Studies from Arizona State University (2008) and a MAR in Second Temple Judaism and Hebrew Bible from Yale University (2010). Brady is primarily interested in studying religion in the ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible. He is currently working on a minor project looking at perceptions of death and afterlife in the ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible. Upon completion of his qualifying exams in January 2014, he will begin working on his dissertation which he has tentatively titled “From the Mesopotamian ‘Tablet of Destines’ to the Bible’s ‘Book of Life’: Tracing the Early History of an Idea.”

Joshua Sears, PhD student, University of Texas, Austin

Joshua Sears received a BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University and an MA in Hebrew Bible from The Ohio State University. He is currently pursuing a PhD at The University of Texas at Austin, where he lives with his wife Alice and their three adorable children. His research focuses on prophets and prophetic texts.

Joseph Spencer, PhD candidate, University of New Mexico

Joseph M. Spencer has degrees from Brigham Young University, San Jose State University, and the University of New Mexico, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of An Other Testament (2012) and For Zion (forthcoming), as well as of articles in both philosophy and Mormon studies published in a variety of journals. He is the associate director of the Mormon Theology Seminar and an associate editor of The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. His current work in philosophy focuses on the intersection of analytic and continental philosophy, while his work in Mormon studies is dedicated to scriptural theology.

Joseph Stuart, MA student, University of Virginia

Joseph Stuart is a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He received his BA in American Studies from BYU in 2012. Joseph has published work with the BYU Religious Studies Center and has presented at the Mormon History Association. His thesis will focus on race identities and definitions in the 1960's.

Jordan T. Watkins, PhD candidate, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Jordan Watkins is a PhD candidate in American intellectual history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he is finishing a dissertation on the role that biblical and constitutional debates over slavery played in the development of American historical awareness. He received a BA in American history from BYU and an MA in American history from Claremont Graduate University, where Richard Bushman served as his thesis advisor. While his current research navigates wider nineteenth-century American intellectual currents, he remains interested in his first subject of scholarly inquiry—early Mormon history and theology.

Erik Yingling, MA student, Yale University Divinity School

Erik Yingling is a MA student in Liturgical Studies at Yale Divinity School. He did his undergraduate work at LDS Business College (AS) and Brigham Young University (BA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Greek New Testament). His research at BYU resulted in two presentations at the Society of Biblical Literature, and laid the foundation for his forthcoming article “Singing with the Savior: Reconstructing the Ritual Ring-dance in the Gospel of the SaviorApocrypha 24. At Yale his research involves the intersection between art, architecture, and liturgy.