New Testament Scholars Join HDS Faculty

June 27, 2022
HDS professors Benjamin Dunning and Annette Yoshiko Reed
Professors Benjamin Dunning and Annette Yoshiko Reed will join the HDS faculty in July 2022. Photo of Dunning courtesy Benjamin Dunning and photo of Reed by Lindi Gordon

Scholars Benjamin Dunning and Annette Yoshiko Reed have each been named Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. Their appointments are effective July 1, 2022. 

Dunning is currently a professor in the Department of Theology at Fordham University, where he has served on the faculty since 2006. He teaches primarily in the areas of Christianity in Antiquity, critical theory, and gender and sexuality studies, and is also an affiliated faculty member of Fordham's interdisciplinary programs in both comparative literature and women's studies. He is trained in early Christianity, as well as in critical and feminist theory. Dunning earned his PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University in 2005. 

Reed, MTS ’99, is currently a professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Department of Religious Studies at New York University, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2017. Her research spans Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, and Jewish/Christian relations in Late Antiquity, with a special concern for retheorizing religion, identity, and difference. Reed’s latest book explores the beginnings of Jewish angelology and demonology. She earned her PhD from Princeton University in 2002.  

“I am thrilled that both Benjamin Dunning and Annette Yoshiko Reed will be joining the Faculty of Divinity,” said Dean David N. Hempton. “Their intellectual foci, along with their experience mentoring and supervising doctoral candidates, will be a significant asset for students across Harvard. Their appointments strengthen the School’s capacity in Jewish studies and sexual ethics, and together with their faculty colleagues will make Harvard a preeminent place for New Testament and Early Christianity studies.” 

Dunning served as director of undergraduate studies for the comparative study of religion at Harvard before joining Fordham. He most recently edited The Oxford Handbook of New Testament, Gender, and Sexuality, and authored several books, including Christ Without Adam: Subjectivity and Sexual Difference in the Philosophers' Paul. He was also a Women’s Studies in Religion Program Research Associate at HDS in 2009-10. 

“Harvard has been foundational in my scholarly formation, both as a student and during my time working for the Committee on the Study of Religion, then again during a wonderful and generative year at the WSRP,” said Dunning. “Thus, I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to HDS in this new role. The intellectual vitality that characterizes the study of religion at Harvard is really unparalleled. You can see that in the current faculty—and also in the very exciting cohort of new hires that I feel privileged to be part of. And right now, there are new interdisciplinary initiatives in the study of the ancient world across the University that weren’t around when I was a student. So it’s a great time to come! In terms of my two intellectual passions—early Christianity and religion, gender, and sexuality—I really can’t think of a better place to be.”

Reed works in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and ancient Ethiopic, in addition to speaking English and Japanese. Much of Reed’s work focuses on forgetting: looking at documents that have been lost and found, and then trying to see early Jewish and Christian history through the lens of those recovered or neglected documents. She is the author of several books, including most recently, Jewish-Christianity and the History of Judaism and Demons, Angels, and Writing in Ancient Judaism.

"I am thrilled to be returning to HDS, which very much shaped my intellectual vision during my MTS, and I am especially excited to contribute to the rich and diverse conversations there, putting the study of the New Testament and early Christianity in conversation with Jewish Studies, Classics, and the ancient world more broadly, as well as exploring the implications of new visions of the past on identity and difference today," said Reed.

Giovanni Bazzana, Professor of New Testament, chaired the faculty search committee. He praised the expertise of both scholars and discussed how they will strengthen HDS.

“By joining the faculty of HDS, Professors Benjamin Dunning and Annette Yoshiko Reed are going to strengthen the New Testament and early Christianity area in a way that will make Harvard one of the most attractive academic centers in the world to study these subjects. Both scholars are leading experts in areas that have been traditionally of great interest at HDS,” said Bazzana.

“For Dunning, this is the focus on gender and sexuality, while for Reed, this is the specific attention paid to the interactions between Jews and Christians in the formative centuries. In addition, both scholars will contribute in novel ways that are going to expand the reach of early Christian studies at HDS in innovative and exciting directions: Dunning works on the intersection between Pauline studies and contemporary philosophy, while Reed produces seminal studies on non-canonical literature on an astounding chronological arc that stretches all the ways from Enochic literature of the third century BCE to the Pseudo-Clementine corpus of Late Antiquity. For all these reasons and beyond HDS, interest in Dunning's and Reed's work is very lively in several other Schools and departments at Harvard. Most importantly though, these two additions to the HDS faculty reflect the significant diversity and richness that characterizes the most advanced form of New Testament and early Christian studies today.”

—by Michael Naughton