Kenton Sparks

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Kenton Sparks currently serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eastern University, providing leadership for the university’s academic, student affairs, athletics, marketing, and enrollment offices. He joined the Eastern community as a professor of Biblical Studies in 2000.

Kent moved into the Provost Office in 2017 after serving for several years as our Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment; before that his substantial history in academic administration at Eastern includes having served as Special Assistant to the President, Assistant Provost to several of Eastern's Provosts over the years, and Assistant Provost.

In addition to his experience in administration, Kent is an accomplished scholar and teacher. As Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern, he has written five books and numerous articles, has served as the regional president for the Society of Biblical Literature, and has been tapped as Teacher of the Year at Eastern University; he is also a recipient of the Lindback Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Sparks is an ordained pastor and came to Eastern University after serving seven years on the pastoral staff of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, where he was responsible for teaching and  preaching and for administrative duties in missions, evangelism and worship. During this period, he also served on the Board of Directors for Regent School of Raleigh (now Trinity Academy), a private K-12 Christian school. Kent was in prior years the Director of Technical Services at Fleece Library, Columbia International University.

Dr. Sparks earned his Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies from Johnson University, the Master's degree in Hebrew Bible from Columbia International University, the Master's in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

He is married since 1988 to Cheryl Bailey Sparks, professor of marriage & family at Eastern, and has two daughters, Emily and Cara Ellen.


Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
M.B.A., Kennesaw State University
M.A., Hebrew Bible, Columbia International University
B.A, Biblical Studies, Johnson University

Professional Associations and Services
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling (from 2014)
  • The Society of Biblical Literature (from 1996)
  • Institute for Biblical Research (from 1996)
  • Catholic Biblical Association (from 1996)
  • American Oriental Society (from 1996)


  • The Mystery of Israel’s Origins: Ethnogenesis of an Ancient People (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
  • Sacred Word, Broken Word (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012).
  • God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).
  • Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005). 
  • The Pentateuch (IBR Bibliographies 1; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
  • Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1998).

Book Chapters

  • “The Ancient Near East,” in Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible-Old Testament (ed. Steven Chapman and Marvin Sweeney; Cambridge: University Press, forthcoming). 
  • “Genre Criticism,” in Interpreting the Book of Exodus (ed. Tom Dozeman; Cambridge: University Press, 2010), 55-94.  


  • “The Authority of the Old Testament,” Catalyst 37.3 (2011): 1-4.
  • “Israel and the Nomads of Ancient Palestine,” in Community Identity in Judean Historiography: Biblical and Comparative Perspectives (ed. G. N. Knoppers and K. A. Ristau; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009), 9-26.
  • “The Egalitarian Spirit in Biblical Law,” Sapientia Logos 1 (2008): 99-121. 
  • “El Evangelio como Conquista: Tipología del Éxodo en Mt 28, 16-20,” Selecciones de Teología 47 (2008): 141-50 [translation of “Gospel as Conquest” by J. Vives].
  • “The Song of Songs: Wisdom for Young Jewish Women,” CBQ 79 (2008): 277-99.
  • “Religion, Identity and the Origins of Ancient Israel,” Religion Compass 1/6 (2007): 587–614.
  • “Enūma Elish and Priestly Mimesis: Elite Emulation in Nascent Judaism,” JBL 126 (2007): 625-48. 
  • “Gospel as Conquest: Mosaic Typology in Matthew 28:16-20,” CBQ 68 (2006): 651-663
  • “The Sun Also Rises: Accommodation in Inscripturation and Interpretation," in Evangelicals and Scripture: Tradition, Authority, and Hermeneutics (ed. V. Bacote, L. Miguélez, and D. Okholm; (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 112-32. 
  • “Genesis 49 and the Tribal List Tradition in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 116 (2003): 327-47.
  • “The Problem of Myth in Ancient Historiography,” in Historiography in the Ancient World and in the Bible: Essays in Honour of John Van Seters (ed. S. L. McKenzie, T. C. Römer, and H. H. Schmid; BZAW 294; Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2000), 269-80.
  • “The Prophetic Speeches in Chronicles,” BBR 9 (1999): 233-45.  
  • “A Comparative Study of the Biblical נבלה Laws,” ZAW 110 (1998): 594-600.
  • “In the Footsteps of the Sages: Interpreting Wisdom for Preaching,” in Faith and Mission 13 (1995): 70-84.

Dictionary Articles

  • “Former Prophets” in Dictionary of Biblical Criticism and Interpretation (ed. S. E. Porter; London; New York: Routledge, 2006), 115-20. 
  • “Form Criticism” in Dictionary of Biblical Criticism and Interpretation (ed. S. E. Porter; London; New York: Routledge, 2006), 111-14. 
  • “Ark of the Covenant” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (ed. B. T. Arnold; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2005), 88-92.
  • “Ethnicity,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (ed. B. T. Arnold; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2005), 268-72.
  • “Propaganda” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (ed. B. T. Arnold; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2005), 819-25.
  • “Numbers” in Dictionary for the Theological Interpretation of Scripture (ed. K. J. Vanhoozer; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 538-41. 
  • “Patriarchs” and “Semites” in D. N. Freedman, ed.  Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).