At High Point University, the journey isn’t taken alone. It’s guided by scholars who are at the helm of their field, a body of men and women who have traveled the path students have begun.
For Dr. Robert Moses, assistant professor of religion, his journey brought him from Ghana to the United States and spanned the academic spectrum from physics to theology. After earning a physics degree from Howard University in just three years, he took the fourth year to not only apply to medical school (his chosen path at the time), but also to obtain his master of divinity from Duke University while he decided which medical school to attend.
“I grew up in Ghana in a Christian home where I had an interest in religion, but didn’t see that as my career at first,” says Moses. “I came to the U.S. with the plan to become a physician.”
There were plenty of forks along the academic road for Moses as there are for all students. His included a sharp turn from medicine to theology.
“I fell in love with theology and the open-ended questions while getting my master’s,” he says. “In physics, you spend time solving questions with answers. In theology, there are lots of mysteries and puzzles, and most of the enduring questions are unresolved.”
Since changing course, Moses has become one of the youngest leading scholars in his field. He wrote his dissertation on the principalities and powers in the letters of Paul and was awarded the highly competitive DAAD fellowship to conduct research in Germany, focusing on the relation of the powers to historical and theological interactions in post-World War II Germany.
He graduated with not only a strong ability to conduct and publish research, but a passion for mentoring undergraduates who are learning to do the same. He began teaching at HPU in the fall but has already impacted many students’ lives by sharing his own story.
“Where we grow up shapes the way we read scripture,” says Moses. His classes, therefore, often include exercises in hermeneutics, where students are exposed to the ways that different communities interpret scripture (e.g., African biblical hermeneutics, African American biblical hermeneutics, and feminist hermeneutics). Because scripture is read and studied differently in Africa than in the U.S., he brings a broad perspective to the classroom.
“My students are very curious about this, and their questions help to inform my writing, teaching and research,” says Moses.
“In Dr. Moses, I’ve found a professor that I can look to as a mentor and a guide,” says student Jordan Green. “I was challenged in his class, but also assured that if I needed assistance with anything, his door was always open. He wrote a letter of recommendation for me for the Honor Scholars Program and University Ambassador Program, and I have met with him multiple times to discuss my future career path.”
Because of Moses’s influence, Jacob Froats is now a religion major.
“My initial impression of Dr. Moses was that he knew more about the Bible than anyone I have ever met,” says Froats. “I wanted to get to know him because he is full of wisdom, has an extremely interesting life story and has a different outlook on life because of this. His teachings have led me to become a religion major because he guided me in deep explorations of New Testament books and letters of Paul to understanding on a greater level.”
Fortress Press recently published Moses’ first book titled, “Practices of Power: Revisiting the Principalities and Powers in the Pauline Letters,” that is based on his dissertation. He’s already working on a second book and actively sharing his research with students while guiding them on their quest.
“Research makes you a better teacher, and communicating your research to students makes you a better writer,” he says. “I challenge myself to re-invent my courses every semester. I create a space where everyone is welcome. Together, we wrestle with complex questions and embark on a journey.”