This week, The Religion Factor will offer some attention to the Master Programs in Religious Studies that are offered at our faculty. The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in Groningen offers six unique Master’s degree programmes that concentrate on the dynamic interrelationship between religion and culture. Emeera Matthews, from the United States, is the first to share her experiences with us.
The Master’s program Concealed Knowledge at the University of Groningen has redefined my preconception of Theology. Previous to finding this program I thought of Theology as a struggle to understand what was impossible to truly know-the nature of God. I thought of it being filled with old clergymen dictating their interpretation of God’s word. However, this course has opened my eyes to a more practical understanding of theology as a philosophical discourse. The program Concealed Knowledge focuses on how Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism redefine God simply through the existence of these concepts and corresponding texts. As my bachelor degree is in Anthropology I have a drive to understand cultural constructions like religion. Instead of taking a traditional Anthropology of Religion Masters, I decided the Concealed Knowledge program would be more to my liking. I wanted to join the program as a way to enter the field of the mysterious and magical.
The professors of any program can make or break an experience; luckily the professors of this program are top notch, excited and full of knowledge. It makes class fun, interesting and worth-while. I was afraid that not coming from a theological background would make the course difficult or I’d be conceptually behind. This was far from the truth. I feel free to ask questions that may seem mundane to theology students without being criticized. That shows the character of the Faculty and the students as well. As an international student from the USA I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and being able to discuss the secrets of ancient texts. The different backgrounds often lead to interesting takes on philosophical discussions. I have also been very appreciative of the Faculty staff. They have been incredibly helpful in teaching me the ways of the university and the Dutch culture.
I have already learned so much from this program only three months in. The most important lesson came as I was getting frustrated with the idea that we can only conjecture about what certain texts mean. I decided that though we may never know the true nature of God and find which text is right, but through the beliefs and language, we can learn more about the nature of man.
I would recommend this program to anyone who has a passion for reading in between the lines, making connections, philosophical discussion, and the lure of secret text. I think those with a social science or humanities background would find this course and its implications to be rewarding knowledge.
Emeera Matthews is a student of the Master Programme ‘Concealed Knowledge: Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism’ at the faculty of Religious Studies in Groningen.
The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies is organizing an information meeting to promote its new Master’s programmes in Theology and Religious Studies. This event is intended for students from abroad who are interested in coming to the University of Groningen, as well as students who are already at the University of
Thursday 22 November 2012, 5.45 – 8 p.m.
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, Groningen