#50-2-Follow: 50 NT Scholars to Read and Follow—Michelle Lee-Barnewall

#50-2-Follow: 50 NT Scholars to Read and Follow—Michelle Lee-Barnewall February 27, 2020

This blog series spotlights 50 NT scholars and their research. The goal of this series is to introduce readers to a wider circle of scholarship than they have encountered. The majority of people on this list are early or mid-career NT scholars who are doing great research and writing. 

Michelle Lee-Barnewall

Associate Professor of New Testament

Explain why you love teaching and/or writing, and why it brings you vocational satisfaction.

I love having the opportunity to introduce students to something new in their relationship with Scripture. For my introductory hermeneutics class, it’s helping them develop basic skills for interpreting the Bible. I enjoy seeing them get excited about what they can discover by using the proper tools and methods. For my upper class and graduate students, it’s challenging them to think more deeply about the implications of the relationship of Scripture to their faith, such as exploring the “Why?” behind the “What?” I learn a lot from my students as well. Their questions, concerns, and insights challenge and broaden my own understanding of Scripture. Also, their energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm, not to mention their humor and sense of fun, all help keep me young!


What is one “big idea,” emphasis, or theme in your scholarship that you hope impacts the way students and scholars read and understand the NT?

Be open to new ways of looking at Scripture, which means becoming more aware of your own larger cultural biases and limitations. In Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian, I explored how our culture may have shaped the way we approach the gender debate and caused us to miss larger kingdom principles. For example, the debate generally revolves around issues such as authority and equality, but we have often neglected kingdom teachings such as the paradoxical idea of the first being last and the cross as foolishness and weakness to the world, but the wisdom and power of God. In Surprised by the Parables, I try to tease out how we can read the parables not simply in terms of stories with a moral or pragmatic lesson, but also as experiential narratives intended to confront the readers personally as they identify with different characters in the stories and their situations.

Who is your academic hero and why?

One of the things I appreciate the most about Talbot is the emphasis upon excellent scholarship together with service to the church. Clint Arnold and Mike Wilkins really embody this combination for me. It has been a great privilege for me to be their student first, and then their colleague.

Name a few academic books that were formative for you as a student.


Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians

Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians

Gerd Theissen, The Shadow of the Galilean

 Read Lee-Barnewall’s Books

Surprised by the Parables: Growing in Grace through the Stories of Jesus

Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate

Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ

Follow Lee-Barnewall’s Work Online

If you ran into me at SBL, and you didn’t want to talk about New Testament studies, what would you want to talk about?

Hiking in beautiful places, food (but not sushi), any good dog stories

What is a research/writing project you are working on right now that you are excited about?

I’m working on a book on race in which I look at my own experience as a Korean-American through the lens of a New Testament scholar. It’s definitely a different type of project, the most personal I’ve ever done, and I’m very excited to explore this topic through the integration of biblical studies/theology and personal experience/spiritual formation.

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