Celebrating the YDS faculty

May 27, 2021

Yale Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling sent the following letter to students, faculty, and staff today, celebrating faculty promotions and other milestones.


Dear Colleagues,

As we come to the successful conclusion of a challenging year, I write to celebrate our faculty—in particular, a number of professors who have reached significant milestones deserving of our recognition and appreciation.


I am delighted to announce that five professors are receiving well-deserved promotions. Being promoted to Associate Professor are Yii-Jan “JanJan” Lin, Donyelle McCray, Eboni Marshall Turman, and Jacqueline Vayntrub. Eric Reymond is promoted to Senior Lector II. 

Associate Professor of New Testament, Yii-Jan Lin ’14 Ph.D. is a creative thinker who is erasing the line between historical critical approaches and contextual/minoritized readings of the biblical text. Her first book, The Erotic History of Manuscripts, demonstrated how biology played a significant role in the development of textual criticism. Prof. Lin’s current project examines the relevance of the book of Revelation for the modern immigration debate.
Associate Professor of Homiletics, Donyelle McCray studies Christian spirituality and preaching, focusing on African American preaching, sermon genre, and modes of authority. Her work challenges the exclusive connection between homily and pulpit. Prof. McCray’s first book explored Julian of Norwich’s dissident voice as the mystical lover of Christ. She is completing a book whose title suggests its thesis: Is it a Sermon? Genre Fluidity in African-American Preaching. Her next major monograph, The Apostle Pauli, will explore the life of an important Yale and American figure, Pauli Murray.

Associate Professor of Theology and African American Religion, Eboni Marshall Turman teaches and studies constructive theology, ethics, and African American religion. She is widely recognized as a leading figure among the third generation of womanist theologians. Her first book, Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation, demonstrated the connection between incarnation theology and the suffering of Black women. Prof. Marshall Turman’s current book project explores singing as a form of resistance to such prejudices as the great man race narrative and sexual orientation biases.

Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, Jacqueline Vayntrub focuses her research on Hebrew Bible, wisdom literature, biblical poetry and poetics, philology, and the history of biblical scholarship. She is widely recognized as one of her generation’s leading authorities on poetry and wisdom literature. Her first monograph, Beyond Orality, argues for the need to take the literary frameworks of poetic materials seriously. Prof. Vayntrub is completing a second monograph for Yale University Press which recasts the way in which we think of ancient Hebrew poetry.

Senior Lector II in Hebrew Bible, Eric Reymond researches the language and literary idiom of biblical and postbiblical Hebrew literature, especially that found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. More specifically, Prof. Reymond is a specialist in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic and in Second Temple Judaism. He has written a number of grammars on these languages and is completing an edition of the Hebrew text of Ben Sira and a commentary on the same text.


John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, is retiring after twenty years’ service on the YDS faculty and an academic career spanning six decades. A member of what I call the “Book-a-Year Club,” John has authored 26 scholarly books, edited another two dozen, and published an astonishing 336 academic articles—all while sharing his vast knowledge with our students by teaching popular courses such as his “What are Biblical Values?” He is among the world’s best in his fields.

Harry “Skip” Stout, Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity, is also retiring. Skip has served on the faculties of YDS and Religious Studies since 1986, following 12 years at the University of Connecticut. He has published 14 books and 40 scholarly articles while serving as General Editor of the Works of Jonathan Edwards. His first two major monographs were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (they are that good). He has overseen the production of the Jonathan Edwards papers that have been published or put online with amazing efficiency.

Career-retrospective profiles of John and Skip will appear in YDS and Yale media in the weeks ahead, so be sure to watch for those.

Two other faculty are leaving this spring. 

Peg Olin, Senior Research Scholar, is retiring after a long career in art and art history as well as photography. Although she has been a research scholar, she voluntarily offered courses to our students and staged exhibits of her photography.

Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Thomas, Lecturer in Early Christianity and Anglican Studies, received a tenure-track offer from Candler School of Theology (Emory University). While she came to YDS on a time-limited contract, she established her place as a beloved pedagogue and an emerging scholar of note.

Major Awards

Jennifer Herdt, Gilbert L. Stark Professor of Christian Ethics, won a multi-year subgrant from a Templeton Foundation project, “Collaborations in Theological Anthropology on Human Dignity, Agency, and Moral Standing in Light of Recent Empirical Research on Non-Human Animals.”

Willie James Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, received recognition from Publishers Weekly for his book After Whiteness: An Education in Belongingnamed by the magazine a Best Book of 2020.

Kathryn Tanner, Frederick Marquand Professor of Systematic Theology, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Earlier in the year, Kathy’s book Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism was honored by the American Academy of Religion with its Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Constructive-Reflective Studies.

Tisa Wenger, Associate Professor of American Religious History, won a Guggenheim Fellowship, which will support her work on a book in progress exploring “How Settler Colonialism Made American Religion.”

Christian Wiman, Clement Muehl Professor of Communication Arts, won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Conference on Christianity and Literature, 2020.

Also of note, Judy Gundry, Research Scholar and Associate Professor (Adjunct) of New Testament, is part of a group of scholars awarded a multi-year Templeton Foundation grant to study “The Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology of Christian Trust in God.”

Please join me in congratulating these faculty members, all of whom have made vital contributions to their fields and students while upholding the Yale and YDS tradition of scholarly excellence.

It’s exciting to realize that two additions this coming fall will bring even more quality and breadth to our already illustrious faculty. As you have heard previously (very recently in the latter case), Volker LeppinHorace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, and Braxton Shelley Associate Professor of Sacred Music, will be with us as we begin the 2021-22 academic year. Our warmest welcome to Professors Leppin and Shelley.

I extend my sincere appreciation to all our faculty for their exemplary efforts in a year challenged by the pandemic—a pandemic we hope will be substantially behind us when we come together again in August.

Best wishes,

Greg Sterling

May 27, 2021