Dr. Nicholas Reid is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at RTS Orlando, and serves as Director of the Hybrid M.Div. Program. In this installment of “Getting to know the RTS Orlando Faculty,” we asked Dr. Reid about his research on the languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East.
(For an introduction to the series, see here.)
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a small town in South Mississippi, our only claim to fame is being Walter Payton’s hometown. When I was a junior in college, I became a Christian and later met my wife at the same church. After a couple of years of marriage, we moved to Jackson to study at RTS. Upon graduation, we took our three boys to Aberdeen, Scotland where I studied Old Testament. We then moved to Oxford, England for me to do a third master’s degree and my doctorate in the field of Assyriology, the study of the languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East. Towards the end of my doctorate, we had our fourth child, our only girl. Once I received my doctorate, I was awarded a fellowship at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. We’ve since moved to Central Florida, and I’ve now been teaching at RTS for almost three years.
2. Your research focuses on the languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East. What led you to these topics?
I think I took “daring to be a Daniel” a little too literally (Daniel 1:4!). I actually came to this subject from a desire to study and understand the world around the Old Testament and how that material enlightens our understanding of the biblical text. But since I did not want just to do comparative work, I set out to specialize in Assyriology. This enabled me to work on unpublished texts as part of my research. While I came to the field via biblical studies, I find the Assyriological material fascinating in its own right.
3. How has your research influenced your Christian life?
I have found my own intellectual journey to be very faith affirming. Comparative projects can be extremely valuable, but sometimes they can also be distracting. I think that my research has assisted me in moving towards finding the appropriate balance. But I am sure this will be something I will continue to learn over the course of my life.
4. How have your positions as a Visiting Research Scholar and then a Research Affiliate with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World influenced your teaching, both inside and outside the classroom?
Both at ISAW and earlier with my doctorate, I learned a lot about studying primary texts in interdisciplinary contexts. I think the dynamic of going back to original sources and looking at questions and texts from different angles has been something that I try to pass on to my students. In fact, part of what attracted me to RTSO is the leadership and faculty’s desire to integrate our curriculum theologically, exegetically, and historically with an emphasis on primary source materials. I find this approach much more intellectually stimulating and satisfying.
5. What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on unpublished Akkadian and Sumerian texts, as well as social historical topics such as slavery and prisons. I have also served as an editor and contributor to the RTS covenant theology volume that is coming out next year.