Sarah Yardney

PhD student in Bible


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.