Three ambitious alumni from Palm Beach Atlantic’s graduate School of Ministry have founded a new group to connect early-career scholars with the world’s best and brightest biblical researchers.
The alumni – Melissa Barciela Mandala, Kevin Boyle and Jesse Grenz — founded the new Students Committee of the Institute for Biblical Research. The IBR offers evangelical biblical scholars and Ph.D. students a venue for creative, reflective and serious biblical scholarship. For the committee’s first event, the trio interviewed world-renowned New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Keener.
Keener is the F.M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has written more than 25 books, six of which have won book awards in Christianity Today. During last month’s IBR Students session, Keener elaborated on his own academic experience, meticulous research process and vibrant spiritual life, as well as the future job market for Bible scholars, Boyle said.
“He pointed us to the huge need for Christian Bible scholars in overseas seminaries,” Boyle said.
Many prominent Bible scholars are involved in the IBR and committed to helping its members, including the master’s and doctoral students, Boyle said. However, Boyle and Mandala both recognized the need for a subgroup where students could connect with and learn from one other, he said.
During an annual meeting of the IBR, Mandala spoke to the Student Board Liaison Dr. Beth Stovell about starting one. Stovell was on board, and Mandala and Boyle invited Grenz, a likeminded friend, to join them in creating the student group. Grenz is the son of PBA School of Ministry Dean Dr. Jon Grenz.
Stovell and IBR President Dr. Lynn Cohick tuned into the inaugural IBR Students event, and the committee received positive feedback from those who attended, Boyle said. The committee intends to schedule more interviews with accomplished scholars, as well as a coffee hour to foster connections between students, he said.
All three founding members of the IBR Students Committee earned both their undergraduate degrees in biblical studies and their Master of Divinity degrees from PBA. Mandala is working toward her second master's degree at the University of St Andrews in Scotland while applying to doctorate programs in the U.K, and Grenz is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge. Boyle’s plans to pursue a second master’s degree at Jerusalem University College are on pause due to COVID-19, and he is considering a Ph.D. program at Asbury Theological Seminary, where Keener teaches.
Their final question for Keener was on what he wished he had known when he was in their positions.
“He shared about trusting in God’s faithfulness,” Boyle said.
Photo: New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Keener (top left) joined Palm Beach Atlantic alumni Melissa Barciela Mandala, Kevin Boyle (bottom left) and Jesse Grenz (bottom right) for their inaugural IBR Students Committee session. The students interviewed him about his academic journey, research methods and vibrant spiritual life.