What I Learned about Gender (and Diversity) from Christian Academic Publishing

This post by Katya Covrett originally appeared on A Pilgrim in Narnia blog in December 2015 in response to the blogger’s critique of the Zondervan Academic catalog.

katya 2 low res I am a woman. I am the wife of one and the mother of two, a teen and a tween, so life is full. I am an editor at a Christian publishing house—and an academic editor at that. Nerd that I am, I am more prone to cuddle up with a heavy exposition of Romans or the latest and greatest work of theology—with a red pen to boot—than with a bestselling Amish romance novel. As if I did not already have enough in my life, I am exploring a doctoral program on another continent. I am Russian—not just by birth but by upbringing. As such, I did not grow up in what the popular opinion regards as the “civilized West,” and so, to an extent, I represent a degree of ethnic diversity and can still fake a pretty heavy Russian accent when necessary (and, yes, I have a large cat to go with it).

I came to the United States in the late ‘90s to study in seminary and, undoubtedly, to change the world. A minority among the few counseling-major women in my class, I enrolled in a decidedly academic track, majoring in systematic theology and the New Testament (yes, it is possible). Mere months after graduation I entered the world of Christian publishing as an editorial assistant in Zondervan’s church, reference, and academic division. Within a couple of years I was acquiring academic books. Continue reading

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Interview: Cyndi Parker

Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock) from Mount of Olives (Cyndi Parker)Dr. Cyndi Parker teaches 3-week intensive courses in Israel at Jerusalem University College, as well as by invitation to various churches and institutions. She holds a BA in French and Business Studies from Butler University, MA in Old Testament and MA in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies from the University of Gloucestershire.

How did you decide to become a biblical scholar? Share your autobiographical journey.

I became a biblical scholar a little reluctantly. I know that sounds weird, but growing up, I felt like I had been badly wounded by people in the Church who demeaned intelligent and self-motivated females. When I went to college, my professors talked about the silliness of believing in religion, and since I wanted to be brilliant, well spoken, and intelligent, I believed them. I was introduced to feminist ideas, which ultimately helped me put words around some of the deep hurt created by male leadership in church. I walked away from religion, from the church, and from God, and it was only through the patient, consistent pull of God that I eventually returned.

When I considered pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology, a trusted advisor of mine stepped in and stated that he thought I should consider biblical studies instead. Although I initially resented the suggestion, I quickly realized he was right. My biggest life questions, my biggest anxiety, and yet my biggest source of hope came from theology. I knew I needed to be in biblical studies even if it was only to be the female example in the church that I never had. I pursued graduate work in the Old Testament because I related to the life struggles and the difficult questions posed by people in the Old Testament. Continue reading

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Dr. Stephanie Crowder Discusses Mark 6

The Rev. Dr. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder share her brief thoughts on Mark 6:1-13. Crowder is professor of New Testament Studies at Belmont University.

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Beverly Roberts Gaventa on Faith and Scholarship

The following excerpts are from I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship (2015). Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Baylor University. Her chapter in the book is entitled “A Word of Gratitude.”

Where does the story begin, the story of my vocation as a student and teacher of the Bible? Perhaps it begins when I was nine, when we moved to a house within walking distance of the public library . . . or perhaps it dates from that same year, with the traumatic loss of my beloved maternal grandmother . . . but what stands out in my memory is a class on Paul’s letter to the Romans at Union Theological Seminary in New York during the second semester of 1970-71. I applied for and entered the MDiv program to use it as a platform for making my way into doctoral work in Reformation studies or perhaps theology and literature, but the MDiv required courses in Bible, much to my dismay, as I was sure that my scholarly interests lay elsewhere. To make the best of this requirement, I selected a course on Romans, knowing (however vaguely) its importance for the history of Christian thought. And that was it. Like tee-totaling Liza Hamilton in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, who is never again entirely sober after her doctor orders a sip of whiskey at bedtime, I never walked away (pp. 83-84).

Continue reading

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Book Spotlight: Nyasha Junior on Womanist Biblical Interpretation

Dr. Nyasha Junior recently published a new book that sold out at the SBL conference in November: An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation through Westminster John Knox Press. Dr. Junior is an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. See her answers to our questions about the book after the publisher’s description:

This book offers a much-needed introduction to womanist approaches to biblical interpretation. It argues that womanist biblical interpretation is not simply a by-product of feminist biblical interpretation but part of a distinctive tradition of African American women’s engagement with biblical texts. While womanist biblical interpretation is relatively new in the development of academic biblical studies, African American women are not newcomers to biblical interpretation. Moreover, although some African American women identify themselves as “womanists,” the term, its usage, its features, and its connection to feminism remain widely misunderstood. After providing historical background, Junior discusses the current state of womanist biblical interpretation and critical issues related to its development and future. This excellent and accessible resource is perfect for introducing readers to the development and applications of womanist biblical interpretation.

An-Introduction-to-Womanist-Biblical-InterpretationTake us “behind the scenes” to the making of An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation? What inspired you to write it?

I wrote the book for grad students who needed a basic introduction to womanist biblical introduction. I needed a book like this when I was in grad school and didn’t have one. So, I decided to write it myself. It was tough to decide what to include. I wanted to focus on womanist work, but I knew that I needed to provide considerable background information on both feminism and womanism for most readers.

Who do you hope will read this book and why?

The book is for anyone who is interested in womanist approaches in biblical studies, but I especially hope that M.Div. students will read it. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism and womanism, and in my experience, most M.Div. students haven’t had gender studies courses where those topics might have been covered.

What practical suggestions do you have for teachers, clergy, or facilitators for using this book in the classroom or faith communities?

Part one of the book covers historical background, while part two covers contemporary scholarship. If time is limited, start with chapter four, which discusses how womanist approaches are used within religious-studies-related fields such as ethics and theology. I’m really excited to have the book in students’ hands, and I hope that people will contact me to let me know how they are using it.

Tell Dr. Junior what you think of her new book. Visit her website (nyashajunior.com) and follow her on Twitter (@NyashaJunior).

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Blogger Spotlight: Liv Ingeborg Lied on 4 Ezra

Blogger Spotlight is a feature on the Women Biblical Scholars site that highlights women scholars who have their own blogs. One of their posts is selected for republication here to draw awareness to their blog. Today’s Blogger Spotlight is on Dr. Liv Ingeborg Lied, professor of religious studies at MF Norwegian School of Theology. Check out her blog, Religion – Manuscripts -Media Culture , for more of her writing.

Two Forgotten Sources of 4 Ezra

By Liv Ingeborg Lied

In the last few years, I have mentioned on two occasions manuscript witnesses to 4 Ezra that have apparently been left out of scholarly discussions focusing on this writing. In this post, I propose two possible reasons for this omission, and discuss why these manuscript sources to 4 Ezra deserve our attention. My interest here is not the decisions made by individual scholars, but rather the assessment schemes embedded in philological paradigms and the structuring effects of disciplinary borders to research practices.

My first example, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) Supplément turc 983, f 113/126, containing Syriac 4 Ezra 8:33-41a/8:41c-47, was discussed in the post “Recycling 4 Ezra” (12 February 2014) (here). As noted in that post, this single parchment leaf was published in 1993 by Bernard Outtier in the article, “Un fragment syriaque inédit de IV Esdras”. The leaf has been dated paleographically to the sixth century (Outtier) and also to the eighth to ninth centuries, by Franҫoise Briquel Chatonnet (“Manuscrits syriaque de la Bibliothèque nationale de France” […], 185). As I mentioned in the 2014 post, the fragment has played no role in the scholarly discussion of 4 Ezra.  Continue reading

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One Year Anniversary for Women Biblical Scholars Site!

Women Biblical Scholars was launched in January 2015 to remedy the lack of any site on the entire Web highlighting female scholars in biblical studies (and related fields). The goal was to raise awareness of the important work women are doing and make it easier to find their scholarship. This past year thousands of people visited this site from 90 different countries. And the Twitter account now has over 400 followers. Over seventy posts went up, including twenty-three interviews with current scholars from Duke, Seattle Pacific, Missouri State, Wheaton, Harvard, Bethel, Hebrew Union, Howard, Regent (Vancouver), Westmont, Ashland, St. Andrews, and more.

Women Biblical Scholars will continue to add to the growing pool of resources here in hopes more teachers and clergy will take advantage of these scholars’  great contributions for use in the classroom and faith communities. Help us get the word out! Send the link to your friends, colleagues, and pastors/rabbis. Send a tweet spotlighting WBS and mention us on Facebook. Also if you would like to help advance the mission of Women Biblical Scholars in other ways send an e-mail to: women.biblical.scholars@gmail.com

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Web Round Up #13

SBL 2015 Society Report is now available. Find out all the stats

Interview with Jessica Keady.

Course Report for Laura Nasrallah’s early Christianity course on the letters of Paul.


Nyasha Junior’s An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation in now available.

Aviya Kushner’s The Grammar of God: A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible is now available.

Catherine McDowell’s The ‘Image of God’ in the Garden of Eden is now available.

Jane Draycott has a new article out entitled “Reconstructing the Lived Experience of Disability in Antiquity: A Case Study from Roman Egypt.”

Tiffany Webster published “A Miner Knows Better Than Anybody You Have Little Power Over Mother Nature”: Exploring Genesis 1:26–31 and the Concepts of Control and Power with South Derbyshire Coal Miners” in Journal of the Bible and Its Reception.

Corinna Guerrero writes about “Costly Scripture:Encountering Trauma in the Bible” for America Magazine.

Adele Reinhartz writes on “The Journal of Biblical Literature and the Critical Investigation of the Bible.”

Maria E. Doerfler writes about “The Synod and the Spirit: Reviving the Diaconate for Women in the Roman Catholic Tradition?” on her new blog.

Joan E. Taylor writes on “Jesus was a Refugee.”

Christine Hayes on “Divine Law in Greco-Roman, Christian, and Rabbinic Conceptions.”

Recent Journal of Biblical Literature issue has articles by Nicole Ruane, Anne Marie Kitz, and Paula Fredriksen.

Congratulations to Shayna Sheinfeld on successfully defending her dissertation! Check out the abstract on “Crises of Leadership in the Post-Destruction Apocalypses 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch.”

Read more about Courtney VanWeller’s dissertation research on “Paul’s Therapy of the Soul: A New Approach to John Chrysostom and Anti-Judaism” over at Ancient Jew Review.

Sarah Bond writes about sports and ancient Roman referees.

Karen Keen writes on “How to Be a Biblical Scholar Without Losing Your Faith.”


Two archaeology lectures in Washington D.C. Dr. Ann Killebrew will lecture on “Egyptians, Canaanites, Sea Peoples and Early Israel at the End of the Bronze Age” on November 15th, 2015. Dr. Maryl Gensheimer presents “Landscapes of Allusion at Oplontis and Stabiae” on November 18, 2015.


Imagining the Afterlife in the Ancient Mediterranean World”, Birmingham, UK at the University of Birmingham and Newman University, June 21-23, 2016.

The British Association of of Jewish Studies Conference requests papers for The Texture of Jewish Tradition: Investigations in Textuality (July 2016).

St John’s College, Durham University announces Call for Papers for conference on Exploring the Glory of God: Past and present perspectives of biblical, theological, and aesthetic dimensions of God’s glory (July 2016).


$7,000 archaeology fellowship for summer of 2016

Eerdmans is hiring a Project Editor. NT specialization, Master’s, and proficiency in Greek.

Lecturer in Classics and Archaeology Faculty of Arts The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies The University of Melbourne, Australia (closes November 15th).

Postdoc in Religion and Media in Contemporary Societies at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany for 2015-2018

Catholic Biblical Association lists job openings, including for Old Testament and New Testament posts at Loyola.

Ambrose University is hiring a professor in Christian Theology.

Postdoc in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Uppsala University in Sweden.

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Mignon Jacobs on Biblical Narratives of Migration

Dr. Mignon Jacobs is associate professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as associate provost for accreditation and educational effectiveness and accreditation liaison officer. She speaks on the topic of migration and the Old Testament in response to a lecture by Dr. Daniel Carroll Rodas on  “People on the Move: Biblical Narratives of Migration and Their Echos Today.” She is introduced and begins speaking at the 11 minute mark.

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Biblical Witness, Ethics, and Good Romance Novels: An Interview with Celia Wolff

This interview of Celia Wolff by Clifton Stringer was first published at Ministry Matters. It has been reproduced here with permission. The interviewer, Clifton Stringer, is a Ph.D. student in Historical Theology at Boston College and the author of “Christ the Lightgiver” in the Converge Bible Studies series.

Recently I was able to visit with Celia Wolff about topics ranging from Christian faith to her scholarly work on the book of Acts to the goodness of reading (good) romance novels. Celia Wolff teaches at Northwest Nazarene University. She is also a Th.D. candidate at the Divinity School at Duke University, where the focus of her studies is Christian Scripture and Ethics. She blogs at The Spirit’s Witness and tweets too (@CeliaWolff).

Clifton Stringer: Many of our readers are committed Christians, and not a few work as pastors or in Christian leadership of some kind. How did you wind up being a committed Christian? And what led to your becoming a Christian theologian?

Celia Wolff: My parents are both committed Christians and we rarely missed a Sunday at church when I was growing up. I was very young when I became a committed Christian, but of course I’ve been learning what that looks like ever since.

I was interested in theological questions well before I knew to call them that. The first job I remember considering seriously was teaching. When I was a high school senior my history teacher encouraged me to consider teaching at the college level, and I remember thinking that was good advice. Going to Seattle Pacific University for my undergraduate degree played a huge role in helping me stay a Christian and moving me toward graduate theological education. I started out studying philosophy, but ended up enjoying Bible classes most for how they brought together a range of skills and questions. By the spring of my second year, I was planning to major in theology and taking a class from a professor with an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School. From there on, the doors kept opening up for me to pursue graduate theological education. While in the M.Div. program at Duke I had an important meeting with Richard Hays where he told me about the Th.D. program starting up, and that I should apply for it. I found my area of focus — Christian Scripture and Ethics — during a course that he and Allen Verhey co-taught. The Th.D. program has been a wonderful venue for pursuing this area of study, and prepared me well to begin teaching at NNU a year ago.  Continue reading

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