Betsy Cahill ’10 M.A.R. (Hebrew Bible)
A.B. Harvard-Radcliffe College 1983
B.A. University of Oxford 1986
The word has always drawn me, from Virgil to Euripides to Shakespeare, and it was the verbum Dei I came looking for at Yale Divinity School four years ago. It was the fulfillment of a long-held desire. The list of life goals I drew up as a sixteen-year-old included trekking in the Himalayas and reading the Bible in its original languages. Trekking I took care of immediately after college, but it took three decades (and four children) before I embarked upon serious work in biblical Hebrew and Greek. During my four years at YDS, I have pursued my studies with intense concentration and immense joy. The wonderful camaraderie of the survey courses in Old Testament and New Testament yielded to smaller, more focused classes in which I’ve been able to read a wide variety of Hebrew Bible prose and poetry from Genesis to Lamentations, delve into the prophetic words of Ezekiel and Isaiah, explore Qumran documents, study the Septuagint, and struggle with the syntactical complexities of Philo. I’ve reveled in exegesis papers, in the minutest point of Hebrew grammar, in the griefs and glories of Dante’s journey to God. And that’s just a start.
Each one of my “Yale days,” as they are known in my family, has been an utter joy. It has also been a bit of a balancing act, as I have had a foot in two worlds, the academy and the family. I have constantly shifted my weight from one to the other: furtively reviewing vocabulary flash cards while sitting in the bleachers of a basketball game, racing out of class to get home in time to the meet the bus, sitting in the emergency room of our local hospital with a concussed child the night before my OT exam, study guides in hand. I knew I’d achieved some kind of synthesis when my seven-year-old son made a sign for my study that read: “STOP! People Working on Greek/Hebrew. It’s the law to KNOCK FIRST!”
After four years, I leave Yale with a substantial toolbox of skills not only in Hebrew and Greek, but also in the analysis and interpretation of texts. The richness of the coursework and the excellence of the faculty here have equipped me well for a future of writing and teaching. During my time at YDS, I have always been impressed with the commitment of my classmates to their individual and unique paths of ministry or scholarship. I envision my own future work as a sort of literary ministry, and I hope to serve by sharing my understanding of and deep love for the languages and texts of the Bible.