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Biblical scholar off to Oxford

By Janet Harron | April 8, 2014

A graduate student in Memorial’s Department of Religious Studies has, academically speaking, hit the jackpot.

Trevor Pomeroy is the recipient of this year’s Rothermere Fellowship, one of the most prestigious and lucrative scholarships offered at Memorial University.

He will be spending the next three years completing a PhD at Oxford University.

Mr. Pomeroy discovered his true calling as a scholar after exploring several different career paths, including a full-time position in the military, a stint as a live music promoter and studying to be a priest for the archdiocese of St. John’s. It was during that period, according to Mr. Pomeroy that he “fell deeply in love with the academic study of the Bible.”

During a volunteering stint on an archaeological dig in Israel, he was asked by one of the team how a person could worship a God who would command the sort of violence evident in the Old Testament.

The lack of a satisfying answer to that question inspired his master’s thesis which uses a sociological perspective to explore warfare in the ancient Near East and in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).

Dr. Kim Parker, head of the Department of Religious Studies, is Mr. Pomeroy’s master’s supervisor.

“Trevor is certainly a very easy supervision – he works well on his own, writes well, has original ideas and presents his ideas forcefully and clearly,” he said. “I really feel very honoured to be his supervisor. His achievement reflects very well on the department, especially as he did his undergraduate with us and is now moving on to one of the best schools in the world. We are all very proud of his accomplishments.”

A major part of the Rothermere Fellowship is to reward students who are committed to Newfoundland and Labrador. Applicants must provide a written letter on that theme and how this commitment is reflected in their research.

In his letter, Mr. Pomeroy tied his research to Memorial’s own legacy as a living monument to the war dead of Newfoundland and Labrador, to Dr. Elliot Leyton’s work on violence and Dr. Gwynne Dyer’s on military history.

“I want to be part of that legacy. What I’m doing adds a religious and theological dimension to their work,” said Mr. Pomeroy, who hopes to see Memorial develop a program on peace and conflict studies. We definitely have the resources to provide this specialty – the ARTS on Violence initiative has proven that.”

The ex-military man also has strong feelings on the importance of studying the humanities and social sciences.

“Universities were founded not just to educate people on how the world works but on the hopes of building people of character who contribute to, and participate in, society. And to become people who hopefully care enough to pass that on to others,” said Mr. Pomeroy. “The modern university in general is guided by an overemphasis on the practical.”