Leading scholars join Yale Divinity School faculty

Yale Divinity School has made seven faculty appointments this semester to date. All will join the YDS community over the summer and begin their YDS careers in the fall.

Also new to the faculty this coming fall will be Willie Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies, who was appointed last summer but has spent this academic year on research leave. (In addition, fall semester will mark the first full year on the faculty for Joyce Mercer, Professor of Pastoral Care and Practical Theology.)

“The incoming faculty are a group of exceptionally talented individuals,” YDS Dean Greg Sterling said. “I speak for the faculty and students when I say that we are very excited to have them join us. They all hold the promise of transforming their fields of expertise and enriching the YDS curriculum.”

Here, in the order in which their appointments were announced to YDS students, faculty, and staff, are brief profiles of the newest additions to the school’s faculty:

Yii-Jan Lin
Yii-Jan “JanJan” Lin will serve as Assistant Professor of New Testament. Dr. Lin earned her Ph.D. at Yale in 2014 and is currently Assistant Professor of New Testament at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Her scholarship explores the relationship between New Testament textual criticism and the biological sciences, as well as ancient constructions of masculinity, sexuality, and literary theory. Her new book, The Erotic Life of Manuscripts (Oxford 2016), examines how metaphors of race, family, evolution, and genetic inheritance have shaped the goals and assumptions of New Testament scholarship. More on Dr. Lin and her work can be found on her Pacific faculty biography page.

Donyelle McCray
Donyelle McCray comes to YDS as Assistant Professor of Homiletics. After graduating from Spelman College, Donyelle McCray went on to earn her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary. She received her Doctor of Theology degree from Duke Divinity School in 2014, her dissertation examining “The Censored Pulpit: Julian of Norwich as Preacher.” Dr. McCray is currently Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Director of Multicultural Ministries at Virginia Theological Seminary, where she teaches and conducts research in homiletics, Christian spirituality, and ecclesiology. Dr. McCray is the author of five scholarly articles (published or in press), and she is working on a book exploring the role of risk-taking as an essential part of spiritual life. A hospice chaplain and an attorney at previous stages in her career, Dr. McCray is the winner of the Bell-Woolfall Fellowship and James H. Costen North American Doctoral Fellowship. For more on Dr. McCray and her work, visit her VTS faculty biography page.

Adam Eitel
Adam Eitel joins the YDS faculty as Assistant Professor of Ethics. A lecturer in Christian ethics at YDS this year, Dr. Eitel focuses his research and teaching on the history of Christian moral thought, contemporary social ethics and criticism, and modern religious thought. Dr. Eitel has roughly a dozen books, chapters, edited volumes, and articles published or in progress. These include an ethical analysis of drone strikes and a theological account of domination. His current book project explores the role of love in the moral theology of Thomas Aquinas. A 2004 Baylor University graduate and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Fribourg, Dr. Eitel received his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, completing the latter in 2015.

Eboni Marshall Turman
Eboni Marshall Turman comes to YDS as Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion. Dr. Marshall Turman is currently Assistant Research Professor of Theological Ethics and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School and serves as Director of the school’s Office of Black Church Studies. Her research interests include womanist/feminist liberation theologies and ethics; the black radical tradition; black women and theological liberalisms; black womanist aesthetics; and dogmatics in the African American Christian tradition. An ordained minister in the National Baptist Convention, USA, she frequently preaches at churches around the country. After earning her B.A. at Fordham University, Dr. Marshall Turman did her graduate work at Union Theological Seminary, earning her M.Div., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Christian Social Ethics. She is the author of Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation: Black Bodies, the Black Church, and the Council of Chalcedon (Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) and roughly a dozen scholarly articles and chapters. Her book A Womanist Companion is due out from Wipf & Stock in December 2016, and she is currently working on her next monograph, tentatively titled, Black Women’s Burden: Sexism, Sacred Witness, and Transforming the Moral Life of the Black Church. For more on Dr. Marshall Turman, see her Duke Divinity faculty page.

Clifton Granby
Clifton Granby joins the YDS community as a post-doctoral associate and, after one year, will become Assistant Professor of Ethics and Philosophy. Dr. Granby was a lecturer in ethics and black religion at YDS in 2015 and is currently serving as a lecturer in religion at Princeton University. A Wake Forest graduate, he earned an M.A. in philosophy at the University of Memphis. He has a Ph.D. in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Princeton University (2015) and is pursuing his second Ph.D., in philosophy, at Memphis, which he expects to complete this year. Dr. Granby’s work centers on, among other areas, philosophical and theological ethics; African American religious and political thought; and theories of race, power, and knowledge. His dissertation explored “Fruits of Love: Self and Social Criticism in James Baldwin and Howard Thurman.”

Benjamin Valentin
Benjamin Valentin will serve as Assistant Professor of Latino/a Christianity. He comes to YDS from Andover Newton Theological School, where he taught theology and culture and directed the Orlando E. Costas Lectureship in Latino/a Religion and Theology. Having earned his Ph.D. in theological and religious studies from Drew University in 2000, Dr. Valentin focuses his teaching and scholarship on areas including U.S. Latino/a Christianity and theology; Christianity in Latin America; liberation theologies; public and political theologies; and constructive theology. Dr. Valentin has written and/or edited six books and has published eight scholarly articles. His books include Mapping Public Theology: Beyond Culture, Identity, and Difference (published by T&T Clark in 2003, and winner of the Hispanic Theological Initiative’s Book of the Year Award in 2003); Creating Ourselves: African Americans and Latino/as, Popular Culture, and Religious Expression (Duke University Press, 2009); and Theological Cartographies: Mapping the Encounter with God, Humanity, and Christ (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015). See his Andover-Newton biography page for more on him and his work.

Erika Helgen
Erika Helgen joins the faculty as Assistant Professor of Latino/a Christianity. Dr. Helgen completed her Ph.D. in history at Yale in 2015, her dissertation exploring Protestants, Catholics, and the struggle for Brazilian national identity between 1916 and 1945. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. John’s University in Minnesota. Dr. Helgen’s chapter “In Light of the Council: Bishops, Priests, and CELAM” appears in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Christianity, Eds. Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens, Manuel Vásquez, and David Orique (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), and she has also published journal articles dealing with pluralism and religious history in Mexico.

Editor’s Note: Several other faculty searches were still in process at the time this article was published. The story will be updated as more appointments are made.

April 1, 2016