2008 MA (Historical Theology) Defenses

Commencement week excitement continues. Justin Ryals and Travis Baker defended their MA theses last night in the chapel of Westminster Seminary California. Justin won the coin toss and elected to defend his thesis first. He argued that “C. S. Lewis’ …definition of humanity was in relation to God as both source and telos.” He surveyed his four chapters describing Lewis’ view of the structure of human nature, his view of “mere humanity,” humanity towards the self, and humanity towards God.

After a brief intermission, during which time the attending faculty evaluated Justin’s defense, Travis’ defended his case that, in the light Anders Winroth’s discovery of the original version of Gratian’s Decretum, there is renewed reason to compare the two recensions of this fundamental medieval textbook of church (canon) law.

He compared the way the two editions of the Decretum made use of Patristic sources in the case law on marriage. For this work he made his own translation of the relevant sections of the various causae (cases) and concluded that there are no “significant differences between Gratian I and 2 with regard to how each used patristic sources.” This study contributes to our understanding of the rise of European common law and reminds us of the “diverse and and complex foundations of the Western legal tradition.”

Congratulations to both students as the faculty judged that each sustained his defense of his thesis.

It was an interesting mix of topics and representative of the sort of work our MA (Historical Theology) students are doing. Following graduation, Justin plans to find gainful employment in Florida before applying to PhD programs. Travis has been admitted to Keble College, Oxford begin D.Phil. studies in the legislation of Edward I.

I’m grateful to Emily Clark and Chuck Tedrick for helping with the event. Thanks to the faculty who were able to attend and to those hardy students who took time out from exam prep to support their fellows through their trials.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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