Biblical Scholar Nyasha Junior Discusses New Book
by Sara Curnow Wilson
Among the many new faces in Anderson Hall this semester is Department of Religion Assistant Professor Nyasha Junior. Nyasha made some time between teaching and her many other projects to talk with us about her Temple experience and her new book.
Welcome to Temple! How have your first few months been?
My first few months have been action-packed! In addition to teaching, I’ve had faculty orientation, university faculty orientation, my first department meeting, and my first consultation with a reference librarian at Paley.
What are you teaching?
This semester I’m teaching Introduction to Bible. It is an undergraduate course that focuses on the Hebrew Bible (sometimes called the Tanakh or the Old Testament). My students are very diverse and bring lots of different experiences with biblical texts. Some are familiar with biblical texts because of their religious upbringing, while others know only major figures such as Adam and Eve or Moses. They learn a lot from each other, and I am also learning from them.
You had a book released just last month. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
My book, Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation, argues that womanist biblical interpretation is not simply a byproduct of feminist biblical interpretation but part of a distinctive tradition of African-American women’s engagement with biblical texts. It provides a brief history of feminist and womanist biblical interpretation and discusses some of the critical issues related to the development and future of womanist biblical interpretation.
I’m teaching Feminist and Womanist Biblical Interpretation in Spring 2016. This graduate course will incorporate some of the material from the book. I’m excited to share it with students!
I'm less familiar with the term womanist than I am with the term feminist. What is the distinction?
Both “feminist” and “womanist” are terms that are greatly debated. In general terms, a “feminist” is a person who supports and advocates for the equality of men and women. The term “womanist” was popularized by African-American writer Alice Walker in her 1983 collection of essays In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. Walker’s four-part definition includes a definition of a “womanist” as “a black feminist or feminist of color.”
Any other projects on the horizon?
Yes, my current research project focuses on the history of interpretation of Hagar, the wife of Abraham and the mother of Ishmael. It is under contract with Oxford University Press.