In a move designed to bring even more depth and breadth to one of the world's strongest divinity faculties, Duke Divinity School has announced the hiring of eight new faculty members across a spectrum of theological disciplines and traditions. The new hires include Peter Casarella, Janet Martin Soskice, Norbert Wilson, Wylin Wilson, Quinton Dixie, Sarah Jean Barton, Zebulon Highben, and Alma Tinoco Ruiz.
“We are delighted to welcome these eight new faculty colleagues to Duke Divinity School,” said Dean L. Gregory Jones, the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry. “Collectively, they significantly expand and enrich our teaching, learning, and scholarship. Each of them brings distinctive gifts to our community, and we are a much stronger school as a result of their appointments. We look forward with great anticipation and excitement to their contributions and leadership.”
The new faculty will add to the school’s existing strengths in theology, ethics, church history, homiletics, evangelism, and Black Church studies, as well as bring expertise through their scholarship in public policy and food, music and worship, disability care, and Hispanic preaching. They will also add strength to major initiatives such as Theology, Medicine, and Culture and the Black Pastoral Leadership Collaboration.
Peter Casarella, Professor of Theology
Peter Casarella’s research focuses on systematic theology, world religions, and the world church. Prior to joining Duke Divinity, he was an associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, and he has served as director of the Latin American North American Church Concerns (LANACC) project in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He has published widely on medieval Christian Neoplatonism, contemporary theological aesthetics, intercultural thought, and the Hispanic/Latino presence in the U.S. Catholic Church. His books include a monograph, Word as Bread: Language and Theology in Nicholas of Cusa, and a collection of essays, Reverberations of the Word: Wounded Beauty in Global Catholicism.
Casarella has served as president of The American Cusanus Society, The Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the U.S. (ACHTUS), and the Academy of Catholic Theologians (ACT). He is currently serving a second five-year term on the International Roman Catholic-Baptist World Alliance Ecumenical Dialogue and served also on the Roman Catholic-World Communion of Reformed Churches Dialogue.
Janet Martin Soskice, William K. Warren Distinguished Research Professor of Catholic Theology
Janet Soskice’s work lies at the intersection of Christian theology and philosophy, with particular interest in questions of method and the doctrine of God: religious language, metaphysics and epistemology, narrative and genre, doctrine of creation, women and religion, beauty and western art, science and religion, and theological writing. For over 30 years, she was on the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, where she is professor emerita of philosophical theology. Her books include Metaphor and Religious Language (Oxford); The Kindness of God (Oxford); and her present large project on “Naming God.” Her book Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Lost Gospels (Knopf) was read as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 and was in the “Best Book of the Year” lists of The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.
Soskice is a past president of both the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain and the Society for the Study of Theology, and has been a Eugene McCarthy Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University in Rome and president of the Cambridge University Catholic Association. She is a member of the English and Welsh Anglican/ Roman Catholic Committee and takes part in Christian/Muslim dialogue.
Norbert L. W. Wilson, Professor of Food, Economics, and Community
Norbert Wilson’s scholarly research explores food issues such as access, choice, and food waste. He has published in AEA Papers and Proceedings, World Development, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Public Health, Food Policy, Agricultural Economics, and more. Before joining Duke Divinity School, he was a professor of food policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Wilson was an economist/policy analyst in the Trade Directorate (2004–2006) and the Agriculture Directorate (2001–2002) of the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in Paris, France. He continues to work on food safety and quality issues in international trade and domestic food systems. He is an ordained vocational deacon in the Episcopal Church USA.
Wylin D. Wilson, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics
Wylin Wilson’s research lies at the intersection of religion, gender, and bioethics, including rural bioethics and Black Church studies. Prior to joining Duke Divinity School, she was a teaching faculty member at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School. She has also served as visiting lecturer and research associate at the Harvard Divinity School Women’s Studies in Religion Program, associate director of education at the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care, and faculty member in the College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences at Tuskegee University. Among her publications is her book, Economic Ethics and the Black Church.
Wilson served on Mount Auburn Hospital Ethics Committee in Cambridge, Mass., advisory board member for the Rural Child Hunger Summit, and volunteer spiritual caregiver for Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services in Somerville, Mass. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion’s Bioethics and Religion Program Unit Steering Committee.
Quinton Dixie, Associate Research Professor of Church History and Black Church Studies
Quinton Dixie specializes in American religious history and has written on a wide range of topics, from the African American Civil Rights Movement to the history of Black Baptists in the U.S. Among his publications is an edited volume, The Courage to Hope, co-edited with Cornel West, as well as a companion to a PBS documentary, This Far By Faith, co-authored with Juan Williams. He is co-author of Witness: Two Hundred Years of Faith and Practice at the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem, New York, with Genna Rae McNeil, Houston Roberson, and Kevin McGruder; and, with Peter Eisenstadt, he co-authored Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence.
His interest in documentary editing led to work on two projects with James M. Washington: I Have a Dream, a collection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings and speeches for young adult readers; and Conversations with God, an edited volume of African American prayers ranging from early America to the close of the 20th century. He received a certificate from the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents, and served 15 years on the editorial team of the Howard Thurman Papers Project.
Sarah Jean Barton, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Theological Ethics
Sarah Barton’s scholarly work is focused in theological ethics, with special attention to theological anthropology, disability, liturgy, and pastoral care. Her research engages qualitative and participatory methodologies to partner with under-represented populations in theological scholarship, particularly people with disabilities. She has a joint faculty appointment as assistant professor of occupational therapy at Duke University Medical Center in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, where she works in the developing Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division. She is a practicing occupational therapist with a current board certification in pediatrics.
Zebulon M. Highben, Associate Professor of the Practice of Church Music at Duke Divinity School and Director of Chapel Music at Duke University Chapel
Zebulon Highben’s research interests include hymnody, liturgy, music and exegesis, the musical heritage of the Reformation, and the impact of the Second World War on German sacred music. His published scholarship includes numerous articles and essays on the practice of church music, two choral anthologies (the Augsburg Motet Book and the Augsburg Chorale Book), a Festschrift in honor of composer Ronald A. Nelson, and more than 50 choral and liturgical compositions published in the U.S. and Sweden. He has received conducting and/or composition awards from The American Prize, the American Choral Directors Association, the American Composers Forum, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Prior to his appointments at Duke Chapel and Duke Divinity School, Highben served as associate professor of music at Muskingum University, where he was the 2019 recipient of the faculty’s William Rainey Harper Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He has served as a church musician for Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations, most recently at Trinity UMC in Columbus, Ohio. He is an ordained deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Alma Tinoco Ruiz, Lecturer in Homiletics and Evangelism, and Director of the Hispanic House of Studies
Alma Tinoco Ruiz is a practical theologian whose work centers on the intersection of homiletics, pastoral care, and evangelism. Her research focuses on the sermons of Saint Óscar Romero as a profound response to the traumatic injuries the marginalized and oppressed people of El Salvador and how preachers today can effectively address trauma experienced by marginalized and oppressed communities, particularly the community of undocumented immigrants from Latin America in the United States. She has published in the International Journal of Homiletics, Predicación con Impacto: Preparación y Presentación de Mensajes Bíblicos, and The Christian Century.
Tinoco Ruiz was named a Denman Fellow of the Foundation for Evangelism, and was awarded a Lilly Endowment Inc. fellowship for Hispanic-Latino/a students, the Forum for Theological Exploration Doctoral Fellowship, and the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI)/Lilly fellowship. She is a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church.