TWU researcher 'expands the conversation around the Bible,' receives honours at regional competition

As winner of Trinity Western’s 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, Shelby Bennett—Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and Christian Thought​ student—recently competed in the 3MT Western Regionals. Presenting alongside 15 graduate students, Bennett received the honourable mention for her presentation, “Deafening Silence: How Dead Sea Scrolls Expose the Silencing of Biblical Women.”

The 3MT Western Regionals was a virtual event hosted by the University of Alberta on September 23.

Reflecting on her experience of representing TWU at this event, Bennett said, “Participating in the regional competition required me to go about my presentation with a very different lens.”

Bennett faced the challenge of presenting biblical research to a diverse audience in a broadly relatable way.

“At a Christian university, any topic that has to do with biblical interpretation is by nature interesting and relevant. But taking my thesis to a not-necessarily-Christian audience meant that I had to take a lot more time to figure out why this matters to everyone, not just Christians,” she said.

“Through the process I became even more convinced that the conversation around women's voices inside and outside the biblical texts is significant, because it retells stories that have shaped Western culture, whether we recognize it or not.”

Bennett’s research is helping more people engage with biblical studies.

“I was grateful to receive the honorable mention at the 3MT Western Regionals because it tells me that even outside of a religious context, people care about this conversation,” Bennett said. “People want to keep exploring and expanding these ancient stories that have so much weight in our cultural psyche.”

“People want religion—including Christianity—to be a place they can go to find empowerment and freedom, not the oppression that so many minorities have felt over the centuries,” she noted.

Through this experience, Bennett discovered new dimensions to the significance of her work.

“I feel that this award was a reminder to me that expanding the conversation around the Bible isn't just for stuffy academic papers and conferences, it's for everyone who longs for justice, who longs to be seen, heard, and known.”

Following the competition, Bennett continues to pursue her graduate research. She hopes that her work will make biblical studies more accessible to a broader audience.

“Every week I'm rediscovering ancient stories and ideas that excite and challenge me,” she said. “I'm not only looking forward to finishing the 100 page thesis, but I'm especially excited to condense and share what I am learning in ways that are accessible for anyone who wants to know more about the biblical texts and the literary culture around them.”

"How might the silencing of exploited women in the bible have laid a foundation for own cultural moment? ...The goal of my research is to expand the conversation around the bible and give voices to those who have long been unheard." 
— Shelby Bennett

Watch Bennett's presentation, “Deafening Silence: How Dead Sea Scrolls Expose the Silencing of Biblical Women”:


About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has five campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, Ottawa, and Bellingham, WA. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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