News for the Neighborhood #45
Dr. Marvin Meyer

Dr. Marvin Meyer

Chapman’s Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Dr. Marvin Meyer, spends his days asking the age–old questions: Why are we here and what is our purpose?

“The questions we ponder in Religious Studies, such as the meaning of life and the right way to live our lives, are compelling,” says Meyer, who is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies and director of the Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Institute. “I think most of us are engaged in a quest, and some of us choose to be self–conscious and thoughtful about our journey.”

If you doubt the importance of living one’s life in a purposeful way, Meyer points to disturbing examples in corporate and political America. “Look at the wide assortment of organizations and companies with well–trained, intelligent executives who are in deep trouble in terms of their ethical lives. Some earned exclusive degrees at the best schools in the country and know a great deal about economics and business, but seem to lack the moral character to do the right thing. There is something fundamentally wrong about that.”

As director of the Schweitzer Institute, Meyer has studied and written about the life of this Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who is famous for his ethic of reverence for all forms of life, including plants and animals. At Chapman, Meyer teaches a course on the life of Schweitzer the philosopher, theologian, ethicist, musician and medical doctor. “Schweitzer devoted his life to serving humanity and encouraged people to make the world a better place, no matter where they live,” he says.

Meyer focuses much of his attention on the history of early Christianity and is most well known for his work on the gospels outside of the New Testament, including his translation of The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus (HarperSan Francisco, 1992), The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus (HarperCollins, 2005) and The Gospels of Mary (HarperCollins, 2004).

Meyer’s current work began four years ago when he spoke at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and was approached after his talk with an enticing proposition from the National Geographic Society. “They had access to the Gospel of Judas and wanted an American translator to work with two other translators on the project. It’s been a very exciting ride examining the gospel written in the name of the quintessential ‘bad boy.’ The assignment has proven to be very controversial and surprising and has attracted attention around the world. And recently more papyrus fragments have been found.”

Meyer is dedicated to the work he does, not to sway anyone to believe a certain way, but to open up people to what is available. “I am not trying to get people to accept these texts as authoritative, but to make them more approachable,” he says. “They are a part of the history of Christianity and spirituality and enrich our understanding and knowledge about the variety and diversity of beliefs. The work I do relates to real people trying to understand what it means to live spiritually in this world and find a life of value.”

Argyros Forum

When the Chapman Class of ’59 graduated, George L. Argyros served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for 25 years, he encouraged future generations of Chapman students to “dream big dreams.” During his term, he promoted Chapman’s vision of becoming a pre–eminent university, and he and his wife, Julia, generously contributed to the University. In honor of the couple’s dedication to Chapman, the Argyros Forum was built in 1992. This three–story 95,700–square–foot building is a hub of campus activity, the bottom floor of which contains eateries and a gift shop.

The building’s bright spacious atrium has a dramatic winding staircase leading to upper levels that include student life offices and the well–known Albert Schweitzer Exhibit and Collection. This public exhibit represents some of the Schweitzer memorabilia held by Chapman, including the humanitarian’s memoirs, letters, manuscripts, articles, newspaper clippings, books, African artifacts, and a wide variety of photographs.

Published in the Sep/Oct 2009 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Julie Bawden-Davis, Photograph by Mike Escobedo

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