“What Are Humans that God Should Even Notice? Reading Psalms in the Anthropocene”

February 16, 2022

We are deeply gratified to host as this year's J. J. M. Roberts lecturer, Distinguished Professor Ellen F. Davis of Duke Divinity School. Professor Davis is at the forefront of efforts to help the church recover the voice of its own Scriptures in finding a life-giving and sustainable place for humankind in an interconnected world. Her work on an agrarian reading of the Bible helps retrieve the ancient text’s own voice while speaking luminously to today’s greatest challenges and opportunities.  

Ellen Davis joins a long and notable group of Roberts lecturers, beginning in 2015 with Choon-Leong Seow, now at Vanderbilt Divinity, and most recently, Steven L. McKenzie, from Rhodes.

I commend Mark Hamilton and his committee for consistently excellent selections for the Roberts’ Lecture, scholars in the Hebrew Bible who maintain the high standards of work that defined the career of Professor J. J. M. Roberts.

My first encounters with Davis’ scholarship came through her interdisciplinary work in homiletics. Her career reach is now far broader and she will have opportunity this year to impact us in multiple ways, especially as they highlight the specific theme of this year’s CSC.

Davis’ research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their response to urgent public issues, particularly the ecological crisis. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible integrates biblical studies with a critique of industrial agriculture and food production. Her most recent book is Opening Israel’s Scriptures (Oxford, 2019), a comprehensive theological reading of the Old Testament.