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Education: BA Earlham College, 1987; MDiv Howard University School of Divinity, 1997; Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, Duke University, 2000; PhD in Hebrew Bible, Duke University, 2006.
The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney is an Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth, TX where she teaches masters and doctoral students in initial and advanced degree programs including MDiv, ThM and PhD. Her initial course offerings include Introduction to Interpreting the Hebrew Bible, an advance seminar translating and interpreting Exodus, doctoral and masters-level seminars on Exodus. Her doctoral seminars are characterized by attention to translating the text from multiple manuscript traditions including Masoretic, Septuagint, Qumran, Samaritan and Targumic with rabbinic commentary. All levels include womanist, feminist post-colonial and queer commentary.
Her larger course catalog includes a course she developed, Software Supported Exegesis, where she teaches rudimentary Greek and Hebrew grammar and the fundamentals of Accordance Bible Software as tools to access the biblical text in original languages.
Other courses she has created include: Heroines, Harlots and Handmaids: the Women of the Hebrew Scriptures with sections on “Cosmic Herstory,” “Carnal Knowledge” and “Postcolonial Musings,” and Prophetic Constructions, which explores prophets who do not have canonical books attributed to them, including better-known prophets such as Miriam and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, along with lesser-known prophets such as the woman with whom Isaiah fathered a child and Zedekiah the Canaanite. Her approach to teaching the Hebrew Scriptures includes emphasizing archaeology, comparative ancient Near Eastern literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Her newer courses include Suffering in Job and the Holocaust, introductions to Rabbinic Literature and the Dead Seas Scrolls, and Exodus in African and African American Exegesis.
Dr. Gafney is the author of Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel and co-editor of (Prophets and the Deuterocanonical Writings/Apocrypha) The Peoples’ Bible and The Peoples’ Commentary on the Bible, Fortress Press. Her most recent essays include: “A Womanist Midrash on Zipporah” (I Found God in Me: A Womanist Biblical Hermeneutics Reader, Cascade Press), “It Does Matter If You’re Black or White, Too Black or Too White, but Mestizo is Just Right” (Re-Presenting Texts: Jewish and Black Biblical Interpretation, Society of Biblical Literature) and “A Queer Womanist Midrashic Reading of Numbers 25:1-18” (Leviticus and Numbers: Texts @ Contexts).
Among her research interests are feminist biblical studies, rabbinic studies, and issues in translation. Her current projects are Womanist Midrash (Westminster/John Knox, submitted) and a commentary on Habakkuk, Nahum and Zephaniah for the (forthcoming) Liturgical Press Wisdom commentary series.
Other projects include series of bible studies in Genesis in the Abingdon Pastor’s Bible Study, Volume III, an exploration of motherhood in messianic genealogies in “Mother Knows Best: Messianic Surrogacy and Sexploitation in Ruth” in Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and their Children (Brill), and a commentary on Ruth and article on “Responsible Christian exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures” in The Africana Bible (Fortress). Dr. Gafney has also contributed to the Lutheran Study Bible, (Fortress), and is anticipating publication of a commentary on the book of Numbers in the African Women’s Bible Commentary. She also has an essay on transformative teaching practices, “Intoxicating Teaching as Transformational Pedagogy” in Transforming Graduate Biblical Education: Ethos and Discipline published by the Society of Biblical Literature.
Her interest in the ancient Near Eastern and biblical portrayals of Lilith and other night-stalking creatures led to her participation in two HBO documentaries on the origin and evolution of vampire mythologies, True Bloodlines: Vampire Legends and True Bloodlines: A New Type in 2008, airing before the series premiere of True Blood.
Dr. Gafney, an Episcopal priest, remains a member of the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, PA as she is canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. Founded in 1792, it is the first Episcopal church in the U.S. founded by and for African Americans. She is a former member of the Dorshei Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Centre, in Philadelphia. She remains actively engaged in inter-religious work and is particularly interested in how Jews and Christians interpret the texts they hold in common. She is also licensed in the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Dr. Gafney is a former US Army Reserve chaplain who served the Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church as pastor before joining the Episcopal Church.
A number of Dr. Gafney’s sermons in Jewish and Christian congregations are posted in her blog. In most cases, the translation of the scriptures is her own. Dr. Gafney also is a blogger on the Huffington Post – follow her writing here. Visit Dr. Gafney’s Amazon author page here. Dr. Gafney’s sermons have also been published in Those Preaching Women and The Audacity of Faith, both by Judson Press.