By Annette Brill Bergstresser
ELKHART, Indiana (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) — The Board of Directors of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Indiana, has appointed Susannah M. Larry of Nashville, Tennessee, as assistant professor of biblical studies, beginning July 1, 2020.
“We see in Susannah scholarly excellence, dynamic thinking for and with the tradition of Anabaptism, and passion for ministry preparation,” said Beverly Lapp, Ed.D., vice president and academic dean, and chair of the search committee for the position. “We are excited about the balance of expertise and synergy she will bring to AMBS’s Bible Department and our collaborative learning community.”
Larry anticipates completing her Ph.D. in May at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, with a major in Hebrew Bible and minors in New Testament and Early Christianity. She is scheduled to defend her doctoral dissertation, “Lament Beyond Blame: Women’s Poetry in Lamentations 1-2,” in late February. She also earned a Master of Theological Studies with a focus on Biblical Studies from Vanderbilt and a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with a minor in Poverty Studies from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Upon completing her M.T.S. in 2014, she received Vanderbilt’s Founder’s Medal for first honors in the Divinity School graduating class and the A.J. Mattill Award for distinction in New Testament Studies.
Over the last five years, Larry has taught courses at Vanderbilt Divinity School and Sewanee (Tennessee) School of Theology on the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Biblical Hebrew, feminist theology and biblical interpretation. Her publications include “Jeremiah as Eraser: The History of Consequences of Daughter Zion and the Prophet” in Jeremiah in History and Tradition (Routledge, 2019) and “Hunger: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament” in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, Vol. 12 (de Gruyter, 2016).
Larry has been a presenter at the International Society of Biblical Literature (2015, 2019), the Society of Biblical Literature (2016, 2017), Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville (2017) and First Presbyterian Church in Nashville (2016), among other settings. Her topics have included Lamentations, Genesis, Song of Songs, Jonah, and women and violence in the Hebrew Bible.
“Susannah brings to AMBS a contagious passion for the Hebrew Bible and commitment to Christ’s church,” said Drew Strait, Ph.D., assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins and a member of the search committee. “She has a demonstrated knack for teaching the Bible not only historically, but also theologically for the moment we find ourselves in. Her research focus on the Hebrew Bible and sexualized violence is certain to resonate with students and equip them to wrestle with difficult biblical texts and ministry contexts.”
Lapp added that feedback from the AMBS community about Larry’s research presentation during her candidating visit emphasized the relevance of her work to the needs of today’s church and society, including the profoundly needed work of sexualized violence prevention and response. She also affirmed Larry’s ability to relate well across theological diversity, her authentic Christian faith and pastoral presence, and her engagement with intercultural experiences and undoing racism.
Larry, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia — rooted in the Presbyterian Church (USA) tradition — has nurtured a love for preaching since age 13. She and her husband and two young daughters currently attend a United Methodist congregation in rural Tennessee, close to her teaching assignment at Sewanee School of Theology. She came to know Mennonites while volunteering at Jubilee Partners — a Christian service community in Comer, Georgia — where she gained appreciation for Anabaptist commitments to justice and reconciliation.
Larry said that part of what drew her to AMBS was the seminary’s mission to form leaders who participate in God’s just and reconciling work in the world.
“At AMBS, I believe I can live into my calling to a ministry of teaching and scholarship that uplifts marginalized voices,” she said. “I’m excited to empower students with the knowledge and tools to reclaim the Bible as a life-giving Word in their diverse ministry contexts.”
In addition to Lapp and Strait, the search committee for the position consisted of Marcos Acosta, a Master of Divinity student from Buenos Aires, Argentina; David Boshart, Ph.D., president (ex officio); Janna Hunter-Bowman, Ph.D., assistant professor of peace studies and Christian social ethics; and Andy Brubacher Kaethler, Ph.D., associate professor of Christian formation and culture. The board appointment took place Jan. 30.
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