Kelsey Spinnato

Graduate Student in Hebrew Bible




Although originally from Houston, Kelsey left the nation’s greatest state to pursue her BA in biblical languages and English at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating summa cum laude in 2013 from the university’s honors program. Kelsey remained in Nashville to work as a production editor at Abingdon Press, helping to edit and produce several editions of the Common English Bible, many books on church leadership, and various textbooks for both undergraduates and seminary students.

However, it was not long before Kelsey realized that her call was to academia, where she could teach and write her own books instead of editing the books of others (though she still very much enjoys editorial work). She moved from Nashville to Atlanta to pursue a Master of Theological Studies degree at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. A doctoral degree was the next logical step, and so Kelsey applied to PhD programs to specialize in Hebrew Bible studies. She happily left Georgia to move back to Texas to attend Southern Methodist University.

In the SMU Graduate Program in Religious Studies, Kelsey’s research interests focus on narrative criticism and reception history, especially as applied to the patriarchal and matriarchal narratives in Genesis. Her dissertation specifically analyzes the characterization of Rebekah in narrative retellings of the book of Genesis published in the United States after 1990. According to Kelsey, one of the best things about studying and teaching the Hebrew Bible is that even though people have been studying these texts for more than two thousand years—and sometimes it can feel like there's nothing new to say—you can reread a text you've read a hundred times, and a little sliver of a question, an idea, presents itself to you, and you wonder why no one has ever explored it before.

Dissertation Advisor:

Dr. Roy Heller

Dissertation Title:

"Rebekah Retold: A Functional Reception-Historical Analysis of Rebekah in Narrative Retellings of Genesis"

Fellowships, Supported Research, or Other Grants:

SMU University PhD Fellowship

Schubert M. Ogden Fellowship for Academic Excellence in Theology

Conference Presentations:

“Ruth and the Interpretation of Biblical Law,” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, December 19, 2020

“The Characterization of Abram in the Book of Jubilees,” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 30, 2020

“Who Is Abraham’s Successor? A Form Critical Reassessment of Genesis 24,” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, February 29, 2020

“Intertextuality in 1 Chronicles 16: The Reinterpretation of the Psalms according to the Chronicler,” The Sophia Forum, April 6, 2016

“The Hebrew Language as a Model for Language Preservation and Revival,” Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 18, 2013

Service to the Profession:

Society of Biblical Literature On-Campus Representative (SMU), 2020–present