The WoNJAR co-founders have decided to kick this blog off with a short series of “introducing” posts that give us the chance to talk about who we are and what we research; I guess I’m up first!
My name is Rebecca Anthoney, but I usually go by Bex. I grew up in a fairly religious environment, with a Methodist mum and an agnostic dad, attending church regularly and being educated in a Catholic school where Religious Studies (or, more correctly, Christian Studies) was given a lot of emphasis. All of this meant that I grew up with a lot of questions about religion and philosophy which led me to take an A Level in Theology and go on to study for a BA in TRS at the University of Leeds. While I was there, my interests in history, mythology and literature naturally led me to biblical studies, and in my final year I wrote a dissertation on the biblical virgin birth prophecy. This gave me the chance to explore ancient languages (Hebrew and Greek), ancient mythologies and concepts of sacred women and goddesses which have been of interest to me ever since.
I always wanted to go on to postgraduate study, but a lack of confidence and some less-than-ideal circumstances got in the way for a while. Luckily I have some fantastic friends and family, and back in July of last year my wonderful partner sat me down and told me to stop putting off pursuing my goals just because I was scared. That week, I sent out a lot of emails, pulled together some last-minute applications and somehow found myself looking at the prospect of starting an MA in Biblical Studies Research at the University of Sheffield. This was the home of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIIBS for short), and I couldn’t have found a better environment for my studies – even with the 4 hour round trip involved in getting to lectures! The weekly SIIBS Seminars exposed me to an array of research that I might not have never have come across. I was a part of their Dead Languages Society, which gave me the incredible opportunities to improve my Hebrew and even teach some beginner classes, which was a very cool experience. Most importantly, it was such a supportive and friendly environment, filled with staff and students who saw my research as important and interesting even when I had no faith in it myself.
Just last week, I submitted my MA dissertation, which explored the possibility of a “missing goddess” in the creation accounts of Genesis and gave me the opportunity to really sink my teeth into issues of gender studies, near eastern mythology, psycho-analytical approaches and a lot of other really fascinating areas. I was honestly quite hard to say goodbye to it! It’s hard to believe that my time with SIIBS came and went so quickly, but it was invaluable to my growth as an academic and I look forward to seeing more of the research coming from there and I’m sure that I’ll stay in contact.
Right now, it’s hard to say what the future holds for me. The time has finally come to try and find myself some funding to start a PhD in 2018, so my focus over the next year or so will be on that. Funding applications are something of an intimidating journey which I’m sure many of our followers will also be going through, so I’ll try and post the occasional update on that whole process. I’m going to try and improve my Hebrew as well as teach myself the ancient near eastern language Akkadian (gulp) and keep researching and learning. On top of that, WoNJAR is going to be an exciting and demanding project which will keep me more than busy!