Eastern students meet success at Society of Biblical Literature Meeting

On March 17 and 18, two Eastern seniors, Katherine Girsch and Evan Kerstetter, presented papers at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Brunswick, N.J.

At meetings of the SBL, a broad variety of biblical scholars present papers within sessions focused on specific topics or themes. This year, topics ranged from issues in the interpretation of specific biblical texts to such things as the perception of the body in Dead Sea Scrolls and ‘love sickness’ in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew.

Girsch presented a paper entitled “A Reinterpretation of the Combat Motif in Revelation 12.” This paper was based on work she did while studying abroad at St. Andrews in Scotland. Kerstetter’s paper, “The Myth of the Hebrew Slave-Wife: Israelite Social Terminology and the Female Slave Law(s) of Exodus 21:7-11,” was based on research he did for an independent study with Dr. Raymond Van Leeuwen.

Both students presented their papers well, spoke clearly and responded confidently to questions from scholars in the audience. Dr. Carl Mosser, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, served as the helping hand who encouraged Girsch and Kerstetter to submit proposals.

“As far as I am aware, this is the first time an Eastern University undergraduate has presented a paper at SBL,” Dr. Mosser said. “Biblical studies majors have sometimes attended the conference, but Katie and Evan are the first students who have participated since I arrived at Eastern.”

Dr. Mosser also read a paper at the conference titled “The Myth of Second Temple Synagogue Sermons.” 

Overall, the students enjoyed their time at the conference. “I did enjoy the conference, insofar as it provided me the opportunity to present an academic paper to a group of distinguished scholars and receive feedback,” Kerstetter said.

“I really enjoyed the conference,” Girsch said. “It was a really great opportunity to meet other people in the field and get a feel for what’s going on in other areas of biblical studies.”

Dr. Mosser observed that Kerstetter and Girsch appeared to be the only undergraduates to read papers at the conference. “Schools like Princeton, Penn and NYU were presented by graduate students,” he said, “but Evan and Katie did just as well as well as any of them did. This is testimony to the comparative strength of Eastern’s programs in biblical studies and theology.”

Both students plan to further their academic careers by attending graduate school in the fall.

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