Anderson University School of Theology students Rob Heaton MTS ’13 and Dane Leitch, MTS student completing his last year of seminary, presented thesis papers at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) November 23-26, 2013.
According to the SBL website, “The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest scholarly membership organization committed to biblical critical investigation of the Bible.” Leitch’s thesis, Redeeming Penniah: A Freeing Translation of Sarata, began as an assignment for a Hebrew class. As his idea began to develop, Leitch found there was worthwhile research to be done on this topic. His paper takes into account the meaning of the word Sarata in 1 Samuel 1:6. Leitch explored this word and found new meaning that could change perspective on the verse.
[Photo: Dane Leitch was one of the two AU students presenting thesis papers at the Society of Biblical Literature. Leitch showcased his work, challenging scholars to complete in-depth research rather than simply accepting previous research.]
Heaton found inspiration for his paper, The Presumed Adoptionist Christology of the Ebionites: Where’s the Patristic Evidence?, through the language classes he took at the SOT. He discovered a lack of specific details important to the existence of the Ebionites. “My paper confronts the prevailing wisdom on Ebionite Christology (the study of Jesus’ life) and researches the patristic sources for the Ebionites,” said Heaton.
The SOT faculty and staff provided support that encouraged Heaton and Leitch to submit their papers. “I learned tremendously from Dr. Fred Shively, (professor emeritus of religion) who encouraged me to leave no question unasked, even if the question or answer you find might lead you to theologically difficult conclusions,” said Heaton. “My thesis committee has definitely helped me feel like I belong with the group of scholars that I joined in November.”
David Neidert, director of student development for the SOT, believes Heaton and Leitch are great examples of what the seminary aims to instill in students. “Both Rob and Dane are scholars with inquisitive minds, and they understand there is a freedom of inquiry encouraged by the seminary and the university to explore,” said Neidert. “They also represent the hard work education offers to each of us and the integrity to take that hard work and use it to broaden knowledge.”
Leitch believes presenting his thesis paper at the SBL will provide him the opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the text of the Hebrew Bible. He also hopes this experience will produce connections as he pursues his future. “The more connected and impactful we are as students, the more likely we will be to enter the workforce within our discipline,” said Leitch.
— Allison Kohl is a senior from Springfield, Ohio, majoring in communications arts. Kohl is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.