A dynamic class of entering students aren’t the only new people joining the Duke Divinity community this August. Two new faculty appointments are beginning this fall semester, adding to the school’s strengths in biblical studies and theological ethics. “We are delighted to welcome Brent Strawn and Brett McCarty to the Divinity School faculty and community,” said Dean Greg Jones, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry. “Both of them are outstanding scholars and teachers with substantial interdisciplinary interests and expertise. They will strengthen the Divinity School’s engagements with students as well as with churches, the academy, and important issues facing local, regional, and global contexts. Duke Divinity School’s role as a keystone institution will be much stronger through their leadership.”
Brent Strawn, Professor of Old Testament
Brent Strawn’s research focuses on ancient Near Eastern iconography, Israelite religion, biblical law, the Psalms, poetry, and Old Testament theology. Prior to joining the Duke Divinity School faculty, he was the William Ragsdale Cannon Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. His many publications include The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment (Baker Academic) and The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction (Routledge), along with numerous articles, book chapters, contributions to reference works, and reviews. He has edited or co-edited over twenty volumes, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law (Oxford), which received the 2016 Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association for most outstanding reference work.
“Duke is a world-class institution that I have long admired and respected,” Strawn said. “Why Duke? Why not Duke?! The excellence of the university writ large, and the Divinity School more specifically, are widely known. In addition to having a number of friends on the faculty, I was drawn to the Divinity School’s continued and reinvigorated attention to theology that matters for the church and the world.”
Strawn is an ordained elder in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and regularly speaks and preaches at churches across the country. He has appeared on CNN on matters ranging from Easter celebrations to Pope Francis to gun violence, and served as both translator and member of the editorial board for The Common English Bible.
“I’ve been interested in the Old Testament since I was a child growing up in church, partly because it was the undiscovered country: under-known and underutilized in my experience,” Strawn said. “I believe the Old Testament is absolutely indispensable for effective Christian faith and practice today. While some people see only problems in the first three-quarters of the Bible, I see countless resources that can help the church lead the way in overcoming the most intractable problems of our time: poverty, racism, human and planetary suffering. The fact that the church has failed in leading the way on matters like this relates, I suspect, to so many Christians’ ignorance of the Old Testament and God’s full wisdom encapsulated in the entirety of Christian Scripture.”
Brett McCarty, Assistant Research Professor of Theological Ethics
Brett McCarty is a theological ethicist whose work centers on questions of faithful action within health care. His publications include essays in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the compilation Spirituality and Religion within the Practice of Medicine. His research and teaching interests occur at the intersections of bioethics, political theology, public health, and theological anthropology. His current research projects focus on competing conceptions of agency within the modern hospital, religious responses to the opioid crisis, and historical and contemporary connections between Christian bioethics and political theology.
“I am interested in how religious communities may respond in more faithful and fitting ways to challenges in contemporary health care, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to pursue this work at Duke, which has long been a global leader in this area,” McCarty said. “I'm also excited to be at Duke because it means there's a good chance now that my kids won't learn to root for the wrong shade of blue—my wife, Dana, teaches physical therapy at UNC–Chapel Hill. More seriously (though that rivalry is serious), I'm excited to be here because the students I get to work with and learn from are simply amazing.”
McCarty is associate director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School, and he holds a joint appointment in the Duke School of Medicine’s Department of Population Health Sciences. He is also a faculty associate of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine.
“Through my joint appointment between the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Divinity School, I am able to draw from cutting-edge resources in both qualitative health research and theological scholarship, while always remaining connected to communities on the ground. And I'm thrilled to join the Divinity School's Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative as its associate director, and I look forward to building on its success as a hub for world-class interdisciplinary scholarship, formation, and witness.”