MACON – Mercer University's Roberts Department of Christianity has selected Dr. Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament and director of the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, to give the 2014 Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christianity Lectures.
"Carol Newsom is such an impressive and well-established scholar that we consider ourselves most fortunate that she has accepted our invitation to be the 2014 Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christianity," said Dr. Janell Johnson, associate professor of Christianity at Mercer. "Though she has a broad range of research expertise, her choice of topic for the lecture series, the history of feminist biblical interpretation, is relevant and appealing to Mercer students and faculty, as well as to our community."
Newsom will deliver three lectures in a series titled "A Thousand Years of Feminist Biblical Interpretation." The lectures will be held in Newton Chapel, Feb. 25-26, and are free and open to the public.
"As incredible as it sounds, evidence exists for what can legitimately be called feminist biblical interpretation stretching back at least a thousand years," Dr. Newsom said. "This series of lectures explores three critical times in which women used feminist biblical interpretation to claim a place for themselves."
The first lecture, "The Quest for Dignity and Autonomy: Medieval and Renaissance Women Interpreters," will begin at 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25. That same day, Dr. Newsom will speak on the topic of "The Bible and the Right to Preach: Women and the Word in Protestant Christianity" at 7:30 p.m. The last lecture, "Radical Outsiders and Ambivalent Insiders: Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Woman's Bible," will begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
"At a time when many people still wonder what the roles of women and men should be in today's church and society, Dr. Newsom provides a window into the past and the creative roles women have played to express their commitment to the Christian church and its witness in the world," said Dr. Johnson. "She, herself, has taken up the challenge of creative leadership in the field of biblical scholarship, contributing to and co-editing the 'Women's Bible Commentary,' and publishing a monograph on Job that considers new biblical methodology. Dr. Newsom is a gifted teacher and lecturer who exemplifies the good scholarship that we seek and value among those we choose for the Harry Vaughan Smith lecture series."
Dr. Newsom's current research focuses on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Wisdom tradition, the book of Daniel, and apocalyptic literature. She earned her B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College in 1971, followed by her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1975, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1982. She has since received honorary degrees from Birmingham-Southern and the University of Copenhagen, the latter for her work transcribing, translating and providing commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls and her study of Old Testament theology.
Dr. Newsom has written seven books, as well as many articles, book chapters, translations, encyclopedia articles and reviews. She has received several prestigious grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Henry Luce Foundation. She is a senior fellow at Emory University's Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and currently sits on several editorial boards. She is also a past president of the Society of Biblical Literature.
The Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 1990 after Dr. and Mrs. Harry Vaughan Smith made a major gift to Mercer to establish a visiting professorship and lecture series in the Department of Christianity.
The gift bears witness to the lifelong commitment of the late Dr. Smith to the University, which began when he enrolled as a freshman in 1920. A 1924 graduate, Dr. Smith served as pastor of several prominent churches in Georgia before becoming alumni secretary and assistant to the president at Mercer in 1946, a post he held until 1955. From 1955 until 1970, he distinguished himself as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. In all of his years of service, Dr. Smith was a faithful worker on behalf of all Georgia Baptist causes, but he always maintained a special interest in the University and the cause of Christian higher education.