Christine Roy Yoder Named First J. McDowell Richards Professor of Biblical Interpretation

Christine Roy Yoder Named First J. McDowell Richards Professor of Biblical Interpretation

May 7, 2019— Dr. Love Sechrest, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Columbia Theological Seminary, announced that Dr. Christine Roy Yoder was appointed by the Board as the first J. McDowell Richards Professor of Biblical Interpretation, effective July 1, 2019. The chair is named after Columbia Seminary’s longest serving president who fulfilled that role from 1932 to 1971. Dr. Yoder is currently Professor of Old Testament Language, Literature, and Exegesis. She also served recently as Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty from 2016-2018.

“Dr. Yoder continues to serve with distinction both here at Columbia Seminary and in Biblical Interpretation broadly,” said Dr. Sechrest. “We believe this recognition will provide an even greater platform for her to make an impression on students and an impact in shaping the wider academic field.”

“I am grateful to the Board for this honor, and to the Richards family for their considerable generosity to Columbia Seminary,” Dr. Yoder stated. “I look forward to continuing to serve the seminary that J. McDowell Richards led for nearly four decades with remarkable energy, resilience, and wisdom.”

Dr. Yoder received her B.A. in History from Swarthmore College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Old Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. She came to Columbia Theological Seminary as an Instructor of Old Testament Language, Literature, and Exegesis in the fall of 1998 before being appointed Assistant Professor (2000), Associate Professor (2004), and Professor (2011). Dr. Yoder is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Dr. Yoder authored Wisdom as a Woman of Substance: A Socioeconomic Reading of Proverbs 1-9 and 31:10-31 (BZAW 304; De Gruyter, 2001) and Proverbs (Abingdon Old Testament Commentary Series, Abingdon, 2009), in addition to many articles and chapters in books. She co-edited Shaking Heaven and Earth: Essays in Honor of Walter Brueggemann and Charles Cousar (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005) with Columbia Seminary faculty Dr. Kathleen M. O’Connor (emerita), Dr. E. Elizabeth Johnson (emerita), and Dr. Stanley P. Saunders. She also recently co-edited “When the Morning Stars Sang:” Essays in Honor of Choon Leong Seow on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (BZAW 500; De Gruyter, 2017).

Dr. Yoder has served as book review editor for the Journal of Biblical Literature and on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. She also served on the board of Oxford Bibliographies Online: Biblical Studies. Dr. Yoder currently serves as a senior editor on the Common English Bible Translation Board, and as a member of the editorial board for the Biblical Interpretation Series (Brill).

Dr. Yoder has been awarded several grants and fellowships, including a Lilly Theological Research Grant (2002-03), a Catholic Biblical Association Fellowship (2006-07), a Member-in-Residence Grant from the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ for a sabbatical year spent there (2006-07), and a fellowship to participate in the Christian Leadership Initiative sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute and the American Jewish Committee (2010-11). In 2006-07, she co-directed a Group Project Grant, “Teaching Biblical Exegesis in Theological Schools,” awarded by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

Most recently, Dr. Yoder was named by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. as a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology (2014-2015) for her forthcoming book project Contours of Desire in Israelite Wisdom Literature (Baylor University Press). Other current projects include a commentary on Ruth for the Illuminations commentary series (Eerdmans) and Esther for the Old Testament Library Series (Westminster John Knox).

Columbia Theological Seminary “exists to educate and nurture faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through the Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

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