The Russel B. Swensen Endowed Mentorship Fund was established by a generous gift from Elder Robert C. Gay to honor the BYU professor who was much beloved by Elder Gay’s father, William (Bill) Gay. The Swensen mentorships give students the opportunity to work with faculty at the Maxwell Institute in a mentored research environment. This year, Aubrey Brower and Emily Bateman were awarded mentorships to work on research projects with Kristian S. Heal, PhD, director of the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts.
Brower is working with Heal on the reception of Genesis in the Armenian tradition as part of Heal’s larger project of studying Genesis in the broader context of scripture and ancient tradition. Heal and Brower are also preparing an annotated bibliography of the abundant Armenian sources on Genesis, which will be available on the project’s website in spring 2013. Brower is also researching descriptions of Adam, Eve, and the Fall in Armenian sources with the goal of writing a publishable paper. Brower, who is from Maryland, is a senior majoring in Ancient Near Eastern Studies at BYU. She served in the Armenia Yerevan Mission and plans to pursue graduate work in museum studies.
Bateman is working with Heal on the history of Birmingham University’s Mingana Syriac collection—the last great Syriac manuscript collection physically assembled in Europe and North America—to prepare an annotated transcription of related correspondence. The project explores the social and intellectual networks that facilitated the growth of Syriac studies in the United Kingdom and North America in the early twentieth century. Bateman and Heal are producing a full transcription of the correspondence and a glossary with biographical, geographical, and historical information. Ultimately, Heal plans to publish a book on the history of the Mingana Syriac collection and also create a website that includes all of the relevant historical data. Hailing from Tacoma, Washington, Bateman is a senior majoring in music performance at BYU. She served in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission and plans to attend graduate school in the near future.