Carolyn J. Sharp ’94 M.A.R., ’99 M.A., ’99 M.Phil., ’00 Ph.D.

2023Distinction in Theological Education

Carolyn Sharp is Professor of Homiletics at YDS. And an Episcopal priest. And a biblical scholar: for 17 years, she taught Hebrew Scriptures at YDS—the first woman at YDS ever tenured in Hebrew Bible. Then she shifted vocationally to homiletics, making history again. To be a full professor in two disciplines in succession at YDS—that hadn’t been done before. To teach and write professionally in two quite different fields at Yale—that’s uncommon, to say the least.

But it’s not a surprise. Students talk about her zest for teaching across boundaries and the artful way she stirs their sense of calling to ministry or scholarship. 

She joined the YDS faculty in 2000 after earning a Yale Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible. After years of teaching the Hebrew Scriptures, she discerned an expansion of that initial vocation, now to include teaching and writing about the Gospels, Christian preaching, and ecological justice. This rounded out the arc of her calling: to nurture a message of grace and mercy for contemporary times, discover how the Hebrew Bible could enrich Christian preaching, speak to feminist perspectives on power, and motivate urgent environmental action. By 2012 she was ordained in the Episcopal Church. In 2017 she became Professor of Homiletics.

She’s written or edited a dozen books, with a special affection for the Hebrew prophets. In recent years she has published biblical commentaries—one on Joshua, another on Jeremiah 26–52, and a commentary on Micah currently in press. Another of her books provided an introduction to biblical prophetic literature. Her current book project examines the Gospel of Matthew as a rich resource for counter-imperial preaching.

Her sermons at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in New Haven, where she is preacher in residence, are models of high-spirited exegesis and heartfelt communication. She’s a gifted writer, editor, and mentor. In a YDS article by Emily Judd ’18 M.A.R., she offered vibrant advice to future faith leaders:

“First, stay present to the staggering beauty of complexity. Cherish the intricacies of every psalm, every theological argument, every family’s hesitant steps towards healing. Second: engage centering prayer. Dare to encounter the One who is beneath and beyond the narrative you are continually scripting in your life. What unfolds will astonish you.”

One of the finest traditions of YDS is its commitment to excellence in all dimensions of theological education. This award recognizes graduates whose scholarship, teaching or leadership, and contributions to vocational formation for ministry reflect the best of YDS and its distinguished faculty. We proudly give the award this year to Professor Carolyn Sharp.