Wil Gafney

Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney

Address7301 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

Associate Professor, Hebrew and Old Testament, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

B.A., Earlham College, 1987
M.Div., Howard University, 1997
Graduate Certificate, Women’s Studies, Duke University, 2000
Ph.D., Duke University, 2006

The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney is an Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Her course offerings include: Heroines, Harlots and Handmaids: the Women of the Hebrew Scriptures with sections on “Cosmic Herstory,” “Carnal Knowledge” and “Postcolonial Musings,” and Prophetic Constructions, which explores prophets who do not have canonical books attributed to them, including better-known prophets such as Miriam and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, along with lesser-known prophets such as the woman with whom Isaiah fathered a child and Zedekiah the Canaanite. Her approach to teaching the Hebrew Scriptures includes emphasizing archaeology, comparative ancient Near Eastern literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Her newer courses include Suffering in Job and the Holocaust, An Introduction to the Dead Seas Scrolls, and Exodus in African and African American Exegesis. Her interest in the ancient Near Eastern and biblical portrayals of Lilith and other night-stalking creatures led to her participation in two HBO documentaries on the origin and evolution of vampire mythologies.

Dr. Gafney, an ordained Episcopal priest, is a member of the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, PA founded in 1792; it is the first Episcopal church in the U.S. founded by and for African Americans. She is also a member of the Dorshei Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Centre, in Philadelphia. She is particularly interested in how Jews and Christians interpret the texts they hold in common.

Dr. Gafney is a former US Army Reserve chaplain. And, she served the Thompson Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church as pastor before joining the Episcopal Church.

Among her research interests are feminist biblical studies, rabbinic studies, and issues in translation. Dr. Gafney’s series of bible studies in Genesis was published in the Abingdon Pastor’s Bible Study, Volume III, in 2006. Her monograph, Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel and the Peoples’ Bible, which she co-edited, are available through Fortress Press. Her current projects include an exploration of motherhood in messianic genealogies in “Mother Knows Best: Messianic Surrogacy and Sexploitation in Ruth” in a forthcoming volume of Semeia on motherhood, a commentary on the book of Numbers in the “African Women’s Bible Commentary,” and a commentary on Ruth and article on responsible Christian exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures in the African diasporic biblical commentary The Africana Bibe. Her essay on transformative teaching practices will be published by the Society of Biblical Literature. Dr. Gafney has also contributed to the Lutheran Study Bible, now available through Fortress.

Areas of Interest

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