Dr. Amy-Jill Levine to Present 2015 Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christianity Lectures


MACON – Vanderbilt University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Dr. Amy-Jill Levine will deliver Mercer University's 2015 Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christianity Lectures.

The lecture series, titled “Hearing the Parables through Jewish Ears,” will be presented by the Roberts Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts on Jan. 27-28 in the Medical School Auditorium on the Macon campus.

Dr. Levine will deliver her first lecture, “Dangers on the Road to Jericho: How the Good Samaritan Goes Wrong,” on Tuesday at 10:50 a.m. She will follow with “Finding the Lost: Where Prodigal Readers Go Astray” on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and “Assessing Our Values: What Contributions Pearls, Yeast, Pharisees, and Tax Collectors Make” on Wednesday at 10 a.m. All three lectures are free and open to the public.

“Amy-Jill Levine is a creative and encouraging scholar whose insights clarify the historical context of Jesus of Nazareth, his teachings, and his audiences, ancient and contemporary. Her coming to Mercer as the Harry Vaughan Smith Visiting Distinguished Professor of Christianity broadens and deepens the lecture series and its importance to the university and the Macon community,” said Dr. Richard F. Wilson, Columbus Roberts Professor of Theology and chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity.

In addition to being University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Dr. Levine is Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. She is also Affiliated Professor at the Woolf Institute: Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge, United Kingdom.

She has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and American Council of Learned Societies, and has held office in the Society of Biblical Literature, Catholic Biblical Association and Association for Jewish Studies.

Her books include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, the edited collection The Historical Jesus in Context and the 13-volume edited series Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. She co-edited the Jewish Annotated New Testament and co-wrote The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us as well as The New Testament: Methods and Meanings. Her most recent book is Short Stories by Jesus: the Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi.

Dr. Levine's work combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminate anti-Jewish, sexist and homophobic theologies.

She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from Duke University and her B.A. from Smith College, and she holds honorary doctorates from Christian Theological Seminary, Drury University, the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest and the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

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.

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​