By Annette Brill Bergstresser
ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Board of Directors of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Indiana, has appointed Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, PhD, of Bluffton, Ohio, as Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, beginning in July 2022.
Wyse-Rhodes currently is Associate Professor of Religion at Bluffton University (BU), where she has served since 2015, teaching courses on the Old and New Testaments, methods of biblical interpretation, exegetical studies, and introductory Greek and Hebrew, among other topics. At BU, she also is chair of the Undergraduate Academic Program Council and co-advisor of Brave Space (LGBTQIA+ student group), and she served as Interim Campus Pastor (2020–21).
Beverly Lapp, EdD, Vice President and Academic Dean and chair of the search committee, said she sees Wyse-Rhodes’ experience as a professor in an ecumenically diverse Mennonite liberal arts university as “an enormous asset for our learning community.”
“During Jackie’s campus interview, students and faculty members observed how she created a spacious and interactive learning environment that makes room for others to engage, learn and lead,” she noted. “I’m thrilled that with her Bible faculty colleagues, Susannah Larry and Drew Strait, Jackie will be part of continuing AMBS’s incredible legacy of dynamic biblical scholarship and teaching.”
A 2002 AMBS graduate, Wyse-Rhodes earned a PhD in Hebrew Bible in 2018 from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her dissertation was titled, “Reading the Cosmos in Second Temple Jewish Literature: Nature as Model, Sign, Punishment, Witness, and Mystery.” She also earned a Master of Research in Hebrew Bible from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, in 2007, while serving as a community worker in the Netherlands with Mennonite Mission Network (2002–07). Her Master of Divinity at AMBS included a concentration in Biblical Studies, and she also earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Hiram (Ohio) College in 1997.
An active scholar, presenter and speaker, Wyse-Rhodes is currently writing Numbers for the Believers Church Bible Commentary series (Herald Press) and “Isaiah and the Environment” for the Bible Odyssey website (Society of Biblical Literature). “Land,” her contribution to The Bible and Science Fiction (Society of Biblical Literature, 2022), is forthcoming.
Her existing publications include “Reading the Apocrypha” in Education with the Grain of the Universe: A Peaceable Vision for the Future of Mennonite Schools, Colleges, and Universities (Cascadia, 2017) and “Fallen Angels, Divine Journeys, and the Meaning of Life: Apocalyptic Literature Beyond Biblical Canons” in Apocalypses in Context: Apocalyptic Currents Through History (Fortress, 2016), among others. Readers in the Mennonite Church may be familiar with her publication, “Digging for Treasure in Your Own Backyard: Reflections on Missional Experiments in the Netherlands,” Missio Dei 15 (Mennonite Mission Network, 2007).
Wyse-Rhodes has presented papers and led workshops at both international and U.S. meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature; BU’s Faculty Colloquia; and Mennonite Church USA conventions and Women Doing Theology conferences; among other settings. She received a Fellowship Grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion for a project entitled “Re-centering Biblical Studies” (2020–22) and also was awarded BU’s Karl V. Schultz Endowed Faculty Scholarship (2019–21).
Reflecting on Wyse-Rhodes’ gifts, Rachel Miller Jacobs, DMin, Associate Professor of Congregational Formation and a search committee member, noted that seminary students need to learn to read the Bible formationally — a crucial practice for Christian leaders — in addition to sharpening their intellectual skills.
“Jackie’s example and practice of reading formationally will winsomely come alongside the already strong work done by past and present AMBS teaching faculty,” she said. “Equally importantly, Jackie is a superb pedagogue: she knows how to set up classrooms and assignments so that everyone (including the teacher) learns deeply and in transformative ways.”
Wyse-Rhodes, who grew up in Archbold, Ohio, remembers AMBS as “a place of profound academic and spiritual formation” and said she is thrilled to rejoin the AMBS community in a new capacity.
“During my candidating visit, I was drawn to the joyful curiosity that faculty and students bring to study and worship, and I was impressed by the ease with which the seminary builds community among students on campus and at a distance,” she said. “I’m eager to join in the wonderful work AMBS is doing to pursue God’s vision of healing and hope for all creation.”
Wyse-Rhodes comes to AMBS with the blessing and affirmation of her BU colleagues, including J. Alexander Sider, PhD, Harry and Jean Yoder Scholar in Bible and Religion and Director of Peace and Conflict Studies.
“Jackie has been a rigorous and engaged teacher and a consistently positive presence in the lives of our students and her colleagues,” he said. “AMBS is fortunate to gain not only a scholar-colleague of Jackie’s caliber, but also a biblical studies professor who is deeply invested in educating the next generations of Mennonite Church USA pastors and leaders.”
Wyse-Rhodes is married to Brandon Rhodes. They attend First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, where she also serves as a worship accompanist.
In addition to Lapp and Miller Jacobs, the search committee consisted of Malinda Elizabeth Berry, PhD, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics; David Boshart, PhD, President (ex officio); Sue Short, a Master of Divinity student from Archbold, Ohio; and Drew Strait, PhD, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins. The board appointment took place Dec. 13, 2021.
Located in Elkhart, Indiana, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary is a learning community with an Anabaptist vision, offering theological education for learners both on campus and at a distance, including a wide array of lifelong learning programs — all with the goal of educating followers of Jesus Christ to be leaders for God’s reconciling mission in the world.
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