Moving on: Beth Glazier

Posted by Centre News in News, Religion 14 Jun 2017

BethThe faculty are the core of Centre College. Of all the College’s constituencies, they are the ones who are here the longest. It is they who nurture the culture of the place—the sense of common purpose, the collegiality and the passion and energy—and that they share so enthusiastically with their students. This spring, seven of our most venerable professors retired. Before moving on to new adventures, they took time to answer a few questions for our summer issue of Centrepiece.

When I went away to college, I was going to major in political science. Or perhaps Spanish. And then I took a religion course on the Old Testament and was enthralled. I loved the stories, the theologies, the questions with no easy answers. Religion courses became not just my path to self-understanding, they became, as well, important lenses through which I considered both international and domestic issues. I’ve never regretted choosing a religion major, and I have certainly never been bored.

My teaching style is well-known, especially to those in my Religion 110 classes, my favorite course to teach. I am a lecturer/story-teller, a nonstop talker who sometimes forgets to breathe. At Centre, I learned the pleasure of slowing down (just a little bit), of encouraging students to ask questions and to enter into a dialogue with me. Over time, I learned how to draw students actively into the stories my lectures unfold.

I always wanted to work with ancient texts—and not just ancient texts, but texts that no one had ever seen before. Imagine my good fortune to stumble upon Tom McCollough, my colleague and a dedicated archaeologist.

What started as an opportunity to translate one magical text—a fever amulet uncovered at Tom’s dig at Sepphoris in Israel—developed into a marvelous collaboration. We have worked on a silver amulet, also from Sepphoris, and learned about the ancient Mandaean community, in Iraq, through three Mandaean lead rolls that I had the good fortune to buy for the College. Now we are about to begin work on what I call “Lenny’s Amulet,” a magical text of unknown provenance that was given to us by a collector (Lenny) in Israel.

In my 29 years at Centre, I have taught incredible students year after year. I have spread my wings and travelled the world—taking students to London and Paris, Poland, Israel and Jordan. I have had the opportunity to translate ancient magical texts and to put all those years of language study to good use. And I’ve had the opportunity to see our academic world from the other side as an administrator.

Centre has given me both encouragement and opportunity. I chose to make the most of those things. I like to think that Centre and I have formed a sort of mutual admiration society. I know that I have enjoyed and benefited from my time here. I hope that the Centre community has been enriched by my presence.

by Beth Glazier