I was awarded a James Pantyfedwen grant to study for an MPhil degree in theology at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University. I’m extremely grateful to the Foundation for its generous support allowing me to study without financial worries.
This MPhil concentrated on the history and the development of Christion theology in Wales between 1750 and 1850. Under the supervision of Dr Andrew Atherstone – the church historian and the biographer of Archbishop Justin Welsby – I wrote essays on various aspects of the reformed theology of the period. These included assessments and studies of the Presbyterian theologian, Lewis Edwards (1809-1887), the evangelical Congregationalist, Azariah Shadrach (1774-1844) and the Calvinistic scholar, George Lewis (1763-1822). My thesis concentrated on the theological works of George Lewis, focusing on his seven volumes of New Testament commentary, entitled Esponiad ar y Testament Newydd (1802-1829). These volumes were the first complete commentary on the New Testament through the medium of Welsh, but they have never received much academic study and my thesis tries to evaluate the success of his commentary and its influence on the people of Wales.
There is no doubt that I benefitted from my period studying for the MPhil degree. During those two years, I refined my research skills by studying many original sources in the Bodleian Library Oxford, the British Library in London and the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. The research seminars organised for students were very valuable, allowing me to discuss my ideas with other church historians. It was a true privilege to be able to hear prominent scholars such as Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch and Professor Sarah Foot sharing their research findings in these seminars. Thank you again, Pantyfedwen, for allowing me to be part of this.
Following the completion of my research work at Oxford, I shall be moving with my wife, Alexandra, to Ceredigion, to serve the congregational chapels of Seion, Aberystwyth and Bethel, Tal-y-bont. The MPhil in theology has been a wonderful preparation for the ministry, honing my understanding of the Bible and my understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith. Although I have been called to the ministry, I also hope to commence a doctorate in the future in order to further study the theology of George Lewis in greater detail.