by Andrew Hinkel, correspondent
The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), one of the largest American societies for evangelical scholars, honored a Moody senior at this year’s ETS Midwest Regional Conference with a first-place win in its student essay submission contest. Senior biblical studies major, Connor Ham, took first place with his paper, “Where the Scholars Disagree.”
“My paper [was] an exhaustive study of the Hebrew preposition when it takes a specific suffix,” said Ham. “Out of the 410 instances [found] in the Hebrew Bible, I was looking for places where the Septuagint translators and the Masoretes went in and added vowels in the Middle Ages [and] where they disagreed on which word should be read there.”
According to Ham’s investigative work there were nine disagreements among the scholars, however he concluded that, “even of the nine that I found that disagreed, only five of those actually had any exegetical significance.”
The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students who can write about a variety of theological topics, though each must have an ETS member sponsor. “An ETS member has to sort of
feel confident in the student,” Ham said. “Dr. Wilson sponsored my roommate James [Mor] and me to compete in the competition. ”
Wilson is an assistant professor of Bible and an ETS member. His confidence in his students was not misplaced: not only did Ham place first, but Mor placed third in the contest.
Students writing for the essay contest had a few months to submit their paper, but Ham’s winning paper was written at the last minute.
“I had convinced myself I didn’t want to compete in the competition,” said Ham. “But I forgot to send an email to remove myself from the competition. “[Then the] second week of January, I got an email from Dr. Redmond saying that my proposal had been accepted and he was asking for my final paper.”
Ham described the one week he took to write his 16-page paper as “pretty hectic,” but overall a rewarding experience. “It doesn’t get past me; I’m very privileged to have [had] the opportunity to have six semesters of Greek and Hebrew in my undergrad,” he said. “Moody is a phenomenal place to learn and they have created programs that allow for that kind of investment in the languages under phenomenal professors who get us very passionate because they share their passion with us.”
Ham named Dr. Michael Wechsler, professor of Bible, as one of his inspirations. For those interested in writing for future ETS contests, Ham suggests connecting with a faculty member who can help in a particular field of study.