Religious Studies Newsletter

Welcome to the Department's Newsletter, a bi-annual summary of all that was achieved in the Fall and Spring Semesters!

It is with great joy and honor that we have welcomed new faculty to the Department, one of which is Carmen Palmer, PhD! Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Palmer joins the Religious Studies Department as an Assistant Professor. To learn more about her, read down below!

Dr. Carmen Palmer

I am a Florida transplant hailing from Ontario, Canada. Prior to moving to Stetson University last year, I taught at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto, Martin Luther University College (federated with Wilfred Laurier University), and other colleges across Canada. I completed my PhD in Biblical Studies with a focus on Hebrew Bible at the University of Toronto. Prior to that I completed a Master of Divinity at Emmanuel College. Born on the west coast, my undergraduate degree is from the University of British Columbia. My research and teaching span the areas of Hebrew Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls and the literature of ancient Judaism, with a focus on converts, women and identity in the sectarian movement affiliated with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

What drew you to Biblical Studies?

During the process of moving to Florida, many boxes of papers appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the attic, including some of my notes from my undergraduate degree. I was reminded that initially I thought I would become a French teacher. And, in fact I did major in French literature, with an additional minor in East Asian Area Studies. Meanwhile, I was working as a youth pastor and wanted to get a master's degree to help with my work. But after beginning my program and enjoying Biblical Hebrew and Greek, I decided to forge on with doctoral studies in the academic field of Biblical Studies. After I began my program, I took a course on the Dead Sea Scrolls. When a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit came to the Royal Ontario Museum in concert with a series of guest lectures at the University of Toronto from several Dead Sea Scrolls specialists, I was hooked in that field from there.

What does Biblical Studies offer students at a Liberal Arts Unviersity like Stetson?

Biblical Studies as an academic discipline offers much to students at a Liberal Arts University such as Stetson. Not only does Biblical Studies offer a variety of methodological angles for application, such as literary, historical critical, and text critical approaches, it offers a unique opportunity to consider language studies, translation as transmission, and political and ethical underpinnings of scriptural authorship. Scripture with and among the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and early Christian literature contains many writings and rewritings and through comparing such variants and reworkings, we can enter the creative process alongside the scribes involved. Such broad application and opportunity makes Biblical Studies a fine example to utilize in the pursuit of critical writing and thinking.

How can Religious Studies prepare Stetson students for life beyond Stetson after graduation?

As Stetson students and students within the Department of Religious Studies are well-aware, we live in a very diverse world and therefore will find ourselves in very diverse workplaces. Religous Studies more generally offers an opportunity to learn how different communities navigate and continue to navigate a multiplicity of political, religious, and other closely held worldviews. We must learn to understand difference in order to be better participants in daily interactions, in what Emmanuel Levinas might call "the face to face." A degree or courses in the field of Religious Studies can assist tremendously in this endeavor.