Pitts Theology Library Student Research Award Winner: Chris RayAlexander

Pitts Theology Library congratulates Candler MDiv student Chris RayAlexander as the recipient of the annual Pitts Theology Library Student Research Award! Chris was selected for his submitted essay, “Power up for Grabs: The Rod of Iron, Muscular Christianity, and Formal Whiteness.” The Pitts award committee judged this essay to be the best demonstration of creativity in research, maturity in theological thought, and excellence in using library resources to mount an argument amongst the many submissions. Chris’ essay examines the Biblical language “rod of iron,” tracing its development from its OT and NT literary contexts, to its interpretation in English translations of the 17th and 18th centuries, through its use in the recent “Christian patriot” rhetoric of Hyung Jin Sean Moon. In the essay, Chris draws on Hebrew Bible and New Testament scholarship, reception history, and contemporary philosophy, and he makes expert use of items in Pitts Special Collections.

To celebrate the recipient each year, Pitts selects one of its rare books to name in the winner’s honor. To match the research interests reflected in Chris’ essay, Pitts has named in his honor the Pitts copy of Lewis Mayer’s 1806 Bonaparte the Emperor of the French (1769-1821) (1806 MAYE:1). Chris uses this tract in his analysis to show the shift in the understanding of the “rod of iron” language in the early 19th century. 

An early owner’s inscription, dated June 1807, appears opposite the title page, identifying Napoleon Bonaparte as ‘the devil’s heir at law.

Pitts is pleased to offer this award in recognition of the creative scholarship that happens in classes each semester at Candler. We offer our congratulations to Chris for his creative and innovative scholarship. To read more about the award and the selection criteria, visit pitts.emory.edu/researchaward. To read Chris’ essay, visit this link! Congratulations, Chris!