Robyn Whitaker

PhD candidate in Bible


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.