Students with any major can conduct undergraduate research at Notre Dame; many choose to do this in the summer.

Some work in labs, some partner with professors for special projects, and others travel across the United States and the world.

Meet Daniel O’Brien, who works with ancient manuscripts with David Lincicum, associate professor of theology.


Daniel O’Brien ’24

Majors: Additional major in Philosophy, Theology, and Classics with a concentration in Greek

What I do:

I am currently working with Professor David Lincicum on a project concerning the Epistle of Barnabas, a non-canonical Christian work written between 70 and 132 AD.

More specifically, I attend the collation of manuscripts, the process of comparing different manuscripts or editions of the same work in order to establish a corrected text. This process helps transform raw data from various manuscripts into a single text for use, while noting the idiosyncrasies and variations that different manuscripts bring to the table.

I am also working on the analysis of the many “biblical” quotations found in the book, some of which differ markedly from the “standard” texts they claim to quote and others of which are of quite mysterious origin.

A hidden question asks to what extent the author of the work deliberately modifies or even generates citations to suit their uses, or if they cite variant or unknown sources. Another part of my research focuses on how other contemporary authors of the Epistle of Barnabas cite and exegete these same sources, in order to determine the epistle’s place in post-temple Judaism and early Christianity.

Why I decided to do research this summer:

I have had a sustained interest in early Christianity since high school, an interest that grew at Notre Dame, fostered by our excellent faculty and resources in many departments; after graduation, i plan to go to graduate school and eventually pursue a doctorate. in this field.

Dedicating part of my summer to research allows me to focus specifically on research, to learn first-hand skills that will help me in my academic career, and to pursue a subject that I find fascinating.

How I started:

During the last semester, I have been following the introduction to the New Testament with Professor Lincicum and have been particularly interested in the world of the New Testament, in particular the early non-canonical Christian works, those which “have not been retained “. Fortunately Professor Lincicum himself mentioned that he was engaged in research concerning one of these works, the Epistle of Barnabas, and I asked if I could work as a research assistant on this project during the ‘summer.

What I’ve learned so far:

Research is time consuming, but rewarding – I have started the process of collating manuscripts, and looking back at the completed collation pages is a satisfying feeling. I’m especially happy to be able to research during the summer, with fewer distractions from schoolwork and extracurricular activities while still having the same resources at my disposal, especially those available through the Hesburgh Library.

Personally, this research has brought to light a dimension of my field that I had not given enough thought to before – the countless hands over the centuries who have painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts for preservation, a particularly impressive feat for those who copy non-canonical works. The idiosyncrasies of Greek writing are a world I had not been exposed to before, and being able to read it is a unique experience, not to mention a very important skill to have in my field. Being able to examine and consider the very handwriting of these scribes, instead of the typed text on a page, has been a fascinating experience, and I look forward to continuing this research for the rest of the summer.


To learn more about research, visit the College of Arts and Letters.

Originally posted by Shannon Rooney at admissions.nd.edu June 27, 2022.