Baylor Professor Lecture Explores Connection between Virgil and the Hebrew Scriptures

Jan. 22, 2016

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Media Contact: Terry Goodrich (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Jan. 22, 2016) – The classics have been around for thousands of years, intriguing and entertaining readers for generations. Despite being read so many times, however, they still have mysteries to uncover.

Julia Hejduk, Ph.D, professor of classics, has been reading them for decades, but only recently stumbled upon a discovery that she describes as "the intellectual thrill of a lifetime."

Her lecture, "Original Sin and an Astonishing Acrostic in the Orpheus and Eurydice," details the finding of a new acrostic in Virgil's Georgics that suggests a connection between the ancient writer and the Hebrew Scriptures. An acrostic is a poetic form in which the writer spells out a word or sentence using the first letter or word of each line in a work. Hejduk will present her findings from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26, in the Cox Lecture Hall of Armstrong Browning Library.

"This paper arose because a friend of mine happened to mention that a student of his doing a master's thesis on acrostics in Virgil had discovered a new one in the Georgics, 'Isaia says,' but decided it was probably just a curious accident," Hejduk said. "The more I looked at the context, though, the more I felt that it was hauntingly appropriate, and therefore probably intentional."

With that discovery, Hejduk began researching not only the link between Virgil and Hebrew Scriptures, but also the role multi-word acrostics play in Latin poetry.

"Both of these have the potential to change the way we read some of the most fundamental texts in the Western tradition—to help tear down the wall between Athens (the Greek and Roman classics) and Jerusalem (the Jewish and Christian scriptures), and to show that Latin poets composed vertically as well as horizontally," Hejduk said.

The acrostic Hejduk will be discussing is found near the end of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, part of Virgil's middle work, the Georgics. The acrostic SI ISAIA AIT (“If Isaiah says”) implies a link between the Greco-Roman classical tradition and Christianity.

"I love reading the classics because they tie us to our roots, helping us to know our position in the whole human family, to discover what about the human condition has changed and what has stayed the same," Hejduk said. "They’ve been around for thousands of years and their beauty never fades."

This event is free and open to the public. Armstrong Browning Library can be found at 710 Speight Ave., Waco, TX 76706.

by Jenna Press, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. The institute’s mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict.

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