Cat Quine, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible
Cat talks about how a love of Biblical studies led her to a career in academia.
"I work in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, having graduated from Nottingham myself in 2013, with a BA in Theology and Religious Studies.
I remember I came to Uni thinking that I knew the Bible. I’d read it before we started and could probably have quoted a couple of bits. But then I sat in my Hebrew Bible lectures in my first semester and realised that I knew absolutely nothing! Even basic facts that the lecturer threw out really blew my mind.
I felt like a whole world opened up for me in Biblical Studies. I thought of the Bible as a book, a text. I never thought about the society behind it. I never thought about it as a whole world that is different to ours.
In those classes I started to learn about this world and absolutely loved it. I even went to Israel between my second and third year. I went to Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a dark, wet, rock cut tunnel, somewhere under Jerusalem.
It was an incredible experience. Walking through that tunnel in the pitch black, I thought how I’d gone from being just a random A level student to literally walking in a bit of ancient Israel, due to Biblical Studies. I came out of the tunnel and thought, this is what I want to do with my life."
Now this is what I teach. I teach the Bible, ancient Israel, and I use archaeology and material culture to help open up that world to students, to show them that the Bible isn’t just a book, it’s a gateway.
"I was interested in postgraduate study but didn’t really think it would happen – I knew the competition was very tough. Even so, I completed an MSt at Oxford and then a Midlands4Cities funded PhD in Theology back here at Nottingham, where I graduated in 2018.
My PhD focused on the Host of Heaven in the Hebrew Bible, which are more commonly known as angels. These divine beings are fascinating because they were worshipped at various points in Israel and Judah’s history and were polemicised against, but then reintegrated into Yahwism and became an accepted part of biblical tradition. No other divine beings did that! All the other gods and goddesses – Ba’al, Asherah, etc – were polemicised against and faded from history."
Skills for academia
"Studying Hebrew and a bit of archaeology at undergraduate level were the main skills I carried through to graduate studies and now teaching.
I’d never done any Hebrew (and was terrible at all other languages) before undergraduate study, but I loved Hebrew – it really opens up the world of the texts in a totally different way. The English Bible obscures so much of its meaning! Archaeology was similar – seeing the material culture of ancient Israel makes you think about the Bible in new ways."
What I enjoy most about academia is continuing to research and learn. You never master the texts or the world of ancient Israel – there’s always so much more!
Cat's advice if you're considering further study, or a career in academia...
- "If you’re someone that loves learning and diving deeper into traditions, texts, and ancient worlds then postgraduate study might be for you
- A career in academia is hard and it comes with significant challenges. But, if you love your subject and love learning then in my experience, your passion will get you through
- It’s worth being aware that postgraduate study doesn’t mean tying yourself 100% to a career in academia!"