Senior Christian studies major Aaron Massey has had many opportunities throughout his time as a student at the university, including deciphering an ancient biblical text.
Massey is from Gatesville, Texas, and is involved with the international students on campus.
“I enjoy getting to know about them and how they view life. I enjoy spending time with them,” he said.
Since most internationals are new to America, Massey likes learning about their culture and lifestyles while teaching them about ours.
“I have learned to be open minded in many different areas of life. International students have differing insights because they have grown up in … cultures with different cultural norms and practices,” he said.
Massey has learned that even though language and ways of thinking may vary, everyone is more or less the same.
“We are still people with intrinsic value, worth, and capability. Therefore, because we are different, we should embrace cross-cultural relations. Also, they are really fun to be around,” he said.
Massey has also been working at Immanuel Baptist Church in Temple for two years as a youth pastor intern and basically serving as the youth minister’s right-hand man.
He has been teaching and building relationships with the youth in hopes of positive spiritual formation. Massey not only leads discipleship groups, but also assists in the planning aspect of church work.
“I also help with a lot of the plans as far as activities, events, what we are going to teach, where we are going on trips and fundraising,” he said.
As well as working with the youth, he also led a small group of adults for about eight weeks with ages ranging from 19 to the 60s. They worked through God is the Gospel by John Piper.
Serving as an intern at the church has taught Massey several things about spiritual growth.
“I have learned that selfless acts of giving, a directed heart of zeal, and intellectual rigor must be joined together as we seek to advance Christ’s kingdom by loving people as Christ graciously loved us. We cannot neglect any of these components,” he said.
But what makes Massey different is that he and a team of UMHB students got the opportunity to work on an ancient biblical text.
Associate Professor of Christian studies, Dr. Renate Hood, was the group’s leader.
“It was an … early New Testament papyrus project in conjunction with the Green Scholars Initiative,” Hood said.
“We were trying to find what possible reading is the most accurate and the original and the authorial intent, what he intended to write. We were trying to date it and see when it could be dated to. Because the earlier they are dated, the more reliable they are said to be,” Massey said.
“We deciphered/translated the (Greek) papyrus and identified the text. It is a rare fragment from Hebrews 9. When finding such an old fragment, dating to about the early third or late second century, we look for textual trends,” Hood said.
Massey and several other students helped with the project. They had a small piece that was written front and back, and each person in the group took a section.
Hood said Massey “worked hard with the team that collected all of the data, measured letters and observed writing trends.”
Their conclusion was in the textual variants, which, according to Massey were very minute.
“All the variant was, was just a matter of did the author say ‘this’ or ‘it.’ It was very insignificant,” he said.
They started the project last January. The team met every two weeks and each took a little bit of writing and translated it. Team members presented their project on Scholars Day.
“Textual criticism can only be done with intense concentration on particular styles of writing, ink that was used, the way letters were written, and the material it was written on,” Massey said.
Hood praised Massey’s efforts on the work.
“Aaron has a keen eye for detail, is an excellent linguist, and clearly loves the Word of God,” Hood said.
“Textual criticism gave me more of an emotionally deep appreciation for those men and women who labor in learning and comparing those manuscripts in order to find the most probable reading of the beginning text,” Massey said.
He hopes to go to seminary after graduation. He would like to be pastor, but if that doesn’t work out, then he would like to work with college students.
Massey has enjoyed UMHB for its small community and academic atmosphere.
He said the university “offers many opportunities to develop meaningful relationships through organizations and events. It provides an excellent environment to think rigorously about difficult issues and subjects which, thus, leads to a deeper understanding of how to live a life that matters.”