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Feb  2015 23
New Testament Scholar Joins Faculty

Phillips Theological Seminary welcomes Dr. Sharon Jacob as the newest member of the faculty of the 109-year-old-institution. She will begin teaching courses in the New Testament in the fall semester 2015.

Jacob, a native of India, studied at Bangalore University, received a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2003, and a Master of Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School in 2005. In 2013, she earned her PhD in New Testament and Early Christianity from Drew University. Her PhD dissertation is now a book-in-progress under contract with Palgrave Macmillan’s Bible and Culture Series. The title is Reading Mary, the Mother of God, Alongside Indian Surrogate Mothers. Publication is anticipated early next year. In it, Jacob compares the life of the Virgin Mary, as presented in the gospels, to the lives of Indian women who are paid nominal fees in what has become an international reproductive tourism industry.

“India has enthusiastically embraced globalization, including outsourcing,” Jacob said. “It was only a matter of time before Indian reproductive labor began to be outsourced. Critics say it exploits poor Indian women, while supporters suggest it is a symbol of empowerment. Either interpretation fails to take fully into account the complex realities of impoverished women fighting to survive in a global economy.” Jacob juxtaposes these women to Mary, whose consent to become a mother to another embodies her hope for a better life for herself and her people. “My goal is to reimagine early Christian images of Mary in ways that make her more relevant to other women like me,” she said.

Currently teaching at Luther College in Iowa, Jacob brings a range of interests in multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice. “My scholarly interests and my experience of growing up in a religiously diverse country like India equip me to work with my students to construct nuanced interpretations of New Testament texts that seek to encapsulate the complex realities of our world today,” she said. “I firmly believe that my task as a biblical scholar is to bridge the gap between the biblical text and the world in which we live.”

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