NBTS E-Story

A New Voice for the Old Testament: Dr. Beth Tanner Is Promoted to Professor

On Friday, January 25, NBTS proudly announced the promotion of Dr. Beth Tanner to the position of Professor of Old Testament, after a unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees in its winter meeting on January 24. Dr. Tanner has served as Associate and Assistant Professor at the Seminary since 1998.

"By promoting Dr. Tanner to full professor, New Brunswick Theological Seminary recognizes the gifts of a woman who is changing the way people read the Old Testament at our seminary and in the world beyond," said Dr. Gregg Mast. "The Seminary also recognizes the significant administrative role Dr. Tanner now undertakes as the chairperson of the Admissions and Scholarship committees, and most significantly, as Director of the Seminary's ATS accreditation in 2014."

Dr. Tanner is known for her work on the psalms and Hebrew poetry. She is the first woman chair of the Society of Biblical Literature's Book of Psalms section and, when her upcoming book is published, she will become the first woman to write a critical commentary on the Book of Psalms. Her book entitled Psalms for Today was written for laypersons and is widely read. Her signature class "Lament and the Human Experience," is so popular at NBTS that she seeks to teach it every two years.

Dr. Tanner's dedication and scholarship has transformed key components of the Seminary's required curriculum. The class, "Introduction to Old Testament" has been a mainstay of her teaching. In the last seven years, as Dr. Tanner updated all its lectures, she sifted through the entire range of issues and archaeological evidence as it pertains to questions of history and culture during the Old Testament time period. Hundreds of pictures she took in Palestine help describe otherwise ineffable elements of history and culture.

"I have learned from the global community that our lens of Western culture limits our ability to read the text," says Dr. Tanner when she reflects on her work over the last six years. "I am convinced that many of the problems students in particular and church members in general have with biblical authority have nothing to do with the Bible, but with the way Western culture teaches us to read the Bible."

Now Dr. Tanner is transforming all that learning into a new book on the history and social context of the Old Testament, Ancient Israel and Judah: Historical and Social Context, to be published by John Knox Press in 2014. The book seeks to make history more accessible to students.

Dr. Tanner's work at the Seminary remains a work-in-progress. "On top of everything else, I'm learning French because it helps me teach languages while I'm struggling with a new language." Hebrew class remains a passion of hers, even while she seeks to retool it, using new technology. "Our students need the best tools available and the technology has moved well beyond the ways we traditionally learn languages-I plan to focus on this for upcoming years."

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