NewsomWith Christmas just around the corner, one of Candler’s longest-tenured professors has received an early gift. A new collection of scholarly essays has been published in honor of Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament Carol A. Newsom. Known as a “Festschrift”—a work published in recognition of a leading academic—the book was presented in November during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Atlanta.

After Exegesis: Feminist Biblical Theology (2015, Baylor University Press) was co-edited by Newsom’s former students Patricia K. Tull 96G, A.B. Rhodes Professor Emerita of Old Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, and Jacqueline E. Lapsley 99G, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. Two things initially struck Newsom about the book.

“This Festschrift is quite unusual because it is so carefully focused on feminist biblical theology, and because it contains such a large number of my former students – all women,” Newsom says. Twelve of the fifteen contributors studied under Newsom at Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion (GDR), while the other three are colleagues from other institutions.

After ExegesisNewsom notes that several attributes of the publication are meaningful to her, from the topic to the contributors to the approach. Even the book’s cover, which shows an image of a Dead Sea Scroll, is significant: It is from the “Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,” the specific Qumran text that Newsom edited and published for her dissertation and first book.

Also notable was that the book was produced in an intentionally collaborative fashion. Co-editors Tull and Lapsley asked each contributor to engage a specific approach to biblical theology that Newsom advocated in her 1996 Journal of Religion article, “Bakhtin, the Bible, and Dialogic Truth.” And as the writers drafted their essays for the Festschrift, Baylor University Press hosted two breakfasts where contributors shared their works in progress and gained insight from one another during the writing process. The result is that “the essays relate to one another in fascinating ways,” says Newsom.

Another distinction is the book’s promise as a teaching tool. While Festschrifts aren’t often used in a classroom setting, Newsom believes that her former students have compiled a collection that theology students and professors will find helpful.

“Although there are various resources for feminist biblical criticism, the theological focus of this book will make it particularly useful for seminary courses on biblical theology and feminist hermeneutics,” she says.

The volume bears witness to the profound impact one talented and dedicated scholar can have—on her students as individuals, on a particular area of study, and on the academy as a whole.

“When I began teaching thirty-five years ago, there were very few women working in biblical studies, and feminist biblical criticism was barely a decade old,” Newsom says. “I honestly hadn’t realized how many women I had helped train during my time as a professor at Emory, so I was deeply touched to see the work of these women. Quite apart from whatever I may have written or done myself, seeing how they are emerging as leaders in the field makes me proud of them and gratified to have been part of changing the way biblical studies is conducted by helping so many women scholars to find their way.”

And there’s a bow on top of this gift: In addition to the book of essays, Newsom was also honored with a Festschrift issue of the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, co-edited by her former students Robert Williamson 11G, Brennan Breed 12G, and Davis Hankins 11G. Titled “Writing the Moral Self” (vol. 40:1, September, 2015), the issue includes work by five former students and two colleagues of Newsom’s, all responding to her 2011 Society of Biblical Literature presidential address on “Models of the Moral Self: Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism.” “That, too, was a very special honor,” she says.

But in the midst of her own accolades, Newsom’s greatest reward has been fostering a new generation of biblical scholars. “Although there are many satisfactions in teaching both masters students and doctoral students, seeing the doctoral students become teachers and scholars in their own right is very meaningful.”