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PhD Tuition and Research Support

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Who am I and what am I doing?

I am a PhD candidate in the History of Christianity and Religions in North America program, focused on the history of science and religion, particularly in Mormonism. 

My background includes a BA in Near Eastern Studies (BYU), MA and PhD work in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Semitics, University of Chicago), formal scientific study (City College of New York), and some time in the Holy Land. I'm bringing my knowledge of exegesis, science, and the ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis to the modern world, with its use and abuse of Genesis.

My dissertation treats the nexus of literalism, creationism, evolution, “higher criticism,” scriptural interpretation, and conflicting authorities in the LDS Church from the late nineteenth century onward. This will complement my unpublished manuscript, Reading Scripture, Reading Creation: The Ancient Near Eastern Context of Genesis 1. My other interests include the Bible in America, history of science, the nature of scripture and inspiration, Mormon Studies, Hebrew Bible, and Semitic languages. 

Contributing to my field is my primary goal; nevertheless, I do not believe scholars should write solely for the academy, but have a duty to "translate" their scholarship for laypeople, as a contribution to the public good. I have tried to make such contributions to that broader community with articles like this, for example. I also consider it a personal imperative to enrich my own religious community with the best of scholarship of all kinds, through volunteer teaching (Institute, 12 years), formal publications (one example ), informal writing and blogging, workshops/lectures/firesides, and presenting at conferences, such as the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference, the Mormon History Association, the FAIRMormon conference, the Sperry Symposium, Education Week, etc.

Thank you for your support, and follow me at 

Why do I need this money?
Relative to the Harvards and Oxfords of the world, Claremont Graduate University  is small and young. Its endowment is correspondingly small. Funding rarely covers full tuition, let alone a living stipend as other schools often provide. In spite of a second source of funding (a Robert L. Millet Fellowship  from the Mormon Studies Council), I will incur significant costs in the next several years of study, research, and dissertation writing. The amount I am seeking here covers my anticipated tuition, books, fees, material, research, travel, support, and/or presentation costs from 2016 onwards. 



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Ben Spackman
Phoenix, AZ

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