Meet some of our current students and recent research graduates and hear about their journey to complete their studies.
Doctor of Philosophy Graduate (2020)
Professor Mark Brett and the Reverend Dr Merryl Blair
One Becomes Two: The Gender Anthropology of the Eden Narrative and its Reception Journey
My life experience, including many years working in international development, had given me a desire to understand why women are so consistently, globally disadvantaged. This led me to thinking about the metanarratives that frame beliefs about gender. One of the stories that is implicated in gender beliefs in Christian communities is the Garden of Eden narrative of Genesis 2–3. In 2019 I completed a PhD on that narrative highlighting the partnership theme and the character of Eve. This also led me to delve into the history of interpretation of that text and its persistent influence today.
The University of Divinity offered a breadth of Christian tradition that I knew would stretch and challenge me. The interdenominational strength of the university encompassed a wider variety of approaches to Christian formation than the evangelical tradition in which I had come to faith.
I also guessed that its size would bring some advantages, such as the use of the wonderful Dalton McCaughey Library, the research days with the chance to participate in a broad community of scholars, and the access to seminars and courses at colleges other than the one in which I was enrolled (Whitley College).
The obvious highlight was actually finishing such a large, demanding piece of work. I gained enormously from reading the insights of others, discussing with my supervisors, and learning the discipline of arguing a case with rigour. Those skills inevitably carry over into other areas of life. Months of plodding were mixed with moments of exhilaration as I discovered new biblical insights.
I also valued being able to present a paper at the ANZATS conference in Adelaide in 2017 and subsequently having the paper published in Pacifica.
Post-study, I will continue to research into the gender understandings of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). I am also interested in researching how beliefs about Eve have influenced aspects of Australian history and culture which I hope will lead to some publishable articles.
A goal of any theological study is to contribute to “faithful dispositions” in church communities so I hope to produce a book that makes gender conversations more fruitful.