After reviewing papers submitted by Christian Theological Seminary students Nick Green and Ellen Corcella, organizers at the Midwest Society of Biblical Literature Student Religious Studies Conference invited Green and Corcella to present their papers at the February 8 conference at Olivet Nazarene University in Borbonnais, Illinois.
T.J. and Virginia Liggett Professor of Christian Traditions and Professor of New Testament Holly Hearon encouraged Green and Corcella to submit their final papers for publication. Dr. Hearon noted that both Green’s paper on Exegesis of the Greek Text (Philippians), and Corcella’s paper on the Gospel of John were not only well written but espoused original and distinctive ways of thinking about the texts.
Dr. Hearon noted that student scholarship is about much more than presenting thoughts and perspectives through the written word. Effective scholars must be able to not only communicate their thoughts, but consider and defend them in the contest of audience feedback and criticism. “The conference allows students to see that their work is not just about completing the coursework for a class; it allows them an opportunity to take ownership of the work in a new way by presenting it in a different context, , thus continuing the conversation. Attending a conference also gives them an opportunity to hear other papers, to engage those individuals and push the horizon of their learning further,” Dr. Hearon stated.
Green and Corcella will each have 30 minutes to present their papers and engage the audience in questions and discussion. Hearon noted the environment allows students to own a different voice, taking on the role of a colleague. As a faculty member, she enjoys the role shift and seeing how students respond to the experience. “It’s exciting for the student to see that they can stand on their own two feet defending an idea that they are wholly responsible for,” she said.
As past president of the Midwest Society of Biblical Literature, Dr. Hearon said that scholars recognize a need for mentoring experiences. The Student Religious Studies Conference was added in 2007 to foster mentorship and encourage the next generation of biblical scholars. Speaking beyond the “safe” confines of a campus environment can be daunting, but is an important part of preparing future scholars for work in both academic and congregational communities. “A willingness to be vulnerable is a huge part of the student learning experience,” Dr. Hearon said.