Matthijs den Dulk

PhD candidate in Bible


Everything you've heard is true. Yes, Chicago is bitter cold in the winter and yes, it can sometimes be a place “where fun comes to die.” But Chicago also fully deserves its stellar reputation as an intellectual powerhouse. It was this reputation that brought Chicago onto my radar when studying for an M.A. degree at the Vrije Universiteit (VU University) in Amsterdam. I was looking for a place to do doctoral studies that would not only allow me, but really push me to look beyond the borders of our sometimes very narrowly defined field of study. The University of Chicago is exactly such a place; interdisciplinarity is expected of students and faculty alike, without, however, compromising on rigor. This approach has allowed me to take full advantage of being part of a great research university. The faculty of Classics and the Oriental Institute are but two of the departments that offer much for students in Biblical Studies, and the connections between these two departments and the Divinity School are especially strong. This touches upon another aspect that I really appreciate about the approach here in Chicago, the stress on philology. In the best humanistic tradition, the notion that all serious work on ancient religion starts with philological excellence is something of a local adage. My own interests in Early Christianity as well as in Rabbinic Judaism have allowed me to do serious work not only in the Classical languages, but also in Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew. To improve my ability in the latter, I was encouraged to spend some time studying in Israel, which I was able to do last winter. All these great opportunities and facilities notwithstanding, however, the single best thing about my experience here has been, and continues to be, the faculty. At Chicago you get the chance to work with some of the world's very best minds, first-rate scholars who are extremely knowledgeable on a wide range of topics and whose evident passion for their work is, quite simply, infectious.