By Jordan Beach

During Fall 2019, Dr. Aquiles Martinez stepped away from the classroom to further his knowledge and experience in his field.

The Reinhardt University professor of religion proved his sabbatical to be a successful one as he published a textbook entitled “Encounters with the Mystery: An Understanding of Religion.” He plans to use his new publication to teach Introduction to Religion at Reinhardt in a reconstructed way. Martinez also wrote a Spanish translated version, which is in the editing process.

Not only did he publish a new textbook, Martinez published the second edition of “Interpretación Bíblica con Sabor Latino: Una Invitación al Diálogo Desde la Diáspora,” which discusses biblical interpretation.

Alongside his publications, Martinez took time for enriching educational experiences, which he recorded through blog posts and photographs to be used in his courses. He spent time travelling to archaeological, historical, and religious sites and museums in Turkey, India, Egypt, Israel and Brazil. He plans to use his observations from his travels as articles, essays and other materials as teaching tools.

“Although it is true that our students learn differently because they are diverse, resorting to the use of imagery and videos, resulting from personal experiences and research, for example, can increase the possibilities of helping them be more engaged in their own learning so they can improve the lives of others with their own contributions,” said Martinez.

While in Israel Martinez participated in a biblical-theological archaeological excavation in Kiriath-Jearim. He attended a conference in Brazil called “Reimagining Israel and Judah: Implications for Biblical Studies.” He also visited the Biblical Studies Congress at Catholic University in Argentina, and celebrated the Lady of Nazareth holiday and spent New Year’s Eve observing the practice of Candomblé in Brazil.

The time away from his regular responsibilities granted Martinez the ability to volunteer in a committee that is organizing an educational encounter in Grand Rapids, Michigan this summer called “Shaping a Collaborative Vision: Achievements, Challenges and Possibilities.”

Martinez believes sabbaticals play an important role in the career of a professor.

“Sabbaticals give faculty members the freedom, space and time to focus, not on administrative issues or other subsidiary aspects of students’ formation, but on areas of their interest and that they are passionate about so that their creative, innovative and relevant research and publications can help improve the quality of the education we are providing for our students.”

Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Mark Roberts views the work Martinez completed during his sabbatical to be the “ideal productivity” faculty can achieve during their time outside the classroom.

“Sabbatical is akin to the notion that a field that produces a healthy harvest needs also a time to recuperate and reconstitute its nutrients,” said Provost and Vice President Dr. Mark Roberts. “Likewise, sabbatical for Reinhardt faculty provides our professors with a designated time to re-engage with deep learning—to rejuvenate the passion for learning. Through this process, I find faculty return to the campus doubly enthusiastic about their discipline and about their teaching. And, that creates an enriched environment for student learning. Upon return from sabbatical, faculty also have a product to show as a result of the time devoted to research—typically a redesigned course, a scholarly work or a new performance or piece of art. Dr. Martinez, with his book ‘Understanding Religion,’ illustrates the ideal productivity to emerges from sabbatical.”

A faculty colloquium will be held Feb. 13 for Martinez to present his findings.