A PhD student in New Testament, from Melbourne, Australia, I initially began academic life at Monash University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science. I went on to complete a Bachelor of Divinity with Honors as part of ordination training for the Uniting Church, worked as a minister of a rural congregation for four years, then returned to Melbourne to undertake a research Masters (MTh) at the United Faculty of Theology on the symbolism of evil in the book of Revelation. In 2006 I left my job as a high school chaplain to move to the University of Chicago Divinity School and commence a PhD in Biblical Studies (NT).
Due to my desire to study and live overseas I looked closely at numerous programs across the USA and the UK and quickly became impressed by the American system. I was attracted to the PhD program at the University of Chicago Divinity School for several reasons. It is one of the few schools that not only encourages but also requires students of the New Testament to also study the Hebrew Bible. This insistence on breadth, alongside the opportunities for interdisciplinary study, and the University’s reputation for excellence, set it apart. The beautiful campus and helpful conversations with Professors Klauck and Mitchell were contributing factors. Having previously studied at a seminary, I was keen to experience studying the Bible at a University so as to gain from the experience of both academic settings.
Now in my fifth year in the program, the Divinity School continues to be a rich, rewarding, and challenging place to study. I have experienced professors who are excellent teachers and who model the highest levels of academic research and writing. The pace of the program can be slow, yet there is freedom to work at one’s own speed and to pursue one’s own interests; for example, the ability to choose courses and set one’s own exam schedule. There is an enjoyable camaraderie amongst New Testament department PhD and Masters students. As a small group we mix with one another across year levels, enjoying mutual support and collegiality. Furthermore, apart from the horrible winter weather, Chicago is a great city in which to live.
My academic interests include the New Testament, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, martyrdom literature, and the history of exegesis. My primary focus is the book of Revelation and its relationship to both Jewish apocalyptic literature and Graeco-Roman culture. My dissertation is on the book of Revelation and the rhetoric of the worship therein.
I received my BA in Religion & Theater from Swarthmore College is 2002. While teaching high school English, Latin, and Greek, I discovered I loved teaching but that I wanted to teach undergraduates. I began the MA program at the Divinity School in 2006, intending to study philosophy of religion and theology, but quickly realized that I preferred the text-centered nature of biblical studies. Although I had solid training in Latin and Greek and could have pursued a degree in classics, I was drawn aesthetically more towards biblical literature: I liked that it was difficult, full of gaps, and often strange.
My focus is in the Hebrew Bible with secondary areas of study in the New Testament and early rabbinic literature. My main research interest is in the history of biblical interpretation, ranging from innerbiblical exegesis up through early Jewish and Christian interpretation. Some questions that are currently drawing my attention: What methodological controls can we use to draw out the thinking of biblical and post-biblical authors from the textual artifacts they left behind? How did early Jewish and Christian communities use biblical exegesis to establish and fortify identity? How savvy were the Gospel writers to strategies of textual revision in the Hebrew Bible?
I think the best features of the Bible program here are its rigor and its flexibility. My professors expect me to master a formidable quantity of material and to think about it with subtlety, acuity, and integrity. They have also encouraged me to put together a program of study that reflects my specific interests. I have never felt that there is only one way to proceed or that I need to step neatly into my professors’ footprints. In addition to being taught and mentored by excellent professors, I have benefited greatly from the insight, enthusiasm, and fellowship of my classmates.
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.