Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Religion
American Religious Culture
Ethics and Society
Historical Studies in Theology and Religion
Jewish Religious Cultures
Person, Community, and Religious Life
Asian African and Middle Eastern Religions
Aditya Chaturvedi is a doctoral student in Western and South Asian Religions. His research focuses on the genealogy of the key concepts of the Puṣṭimārga tradition. In tracing the genealogy of this concepts, he studies the relationship between Sanskrit and Brajbhasha didactic texts and everyday practices of this tradition. Aditya earned his B.A. (Honours) in History form St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and his M.A. in Historical Studies from Nalanda University, Rajgir. He also works on Hindu Tantras and South Asian Art.
Brittany Landorf is a doctoral candidate in Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Religions. Her dissertation, titled, “The Ethics of Deviance and the Making of Orthodoxy: Gender, Sexuality, and Divine Madness in North African Islamic Mysticism,” traces the figuration of the “mad” mystic known as the majdhūb. Interweaving textual analysis of North African Sufi hagiographic compendiums and treatises composed in the sixteenth-nineteenth centuries with ethnographic fieldwork, she argues that the majdhub’s ambiguous embodiment of deviance marks the continual production of orthodoxy amidst changing understandings of Islam, shifting political power, and reforms to the role of the saint in society. As part of her dissertation, she has translated the hagiographies of fifty female saints buried in Fez, Morocco and mapped their burial locations in a digital story map that is forthcoming as Visiting the Female Saints of Fez. Her writing has appeared in The Journal of Islamic Ethics, The Journal of Body and Religion, and Practical Matters. Her dissertation research has been supported by a Fulbright Student Research Grant in Morocco, a Halle Institute Grant for Global Studies, and a Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry Digital Scholars fellowship. Prior to her doctoral studies, she completed a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Fellowship in Bursa, Turkey. She received a BA from Macalester College and an MTS in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Mujahid Osman is a doctoral student in West and South Asian Religions. Osman’s work is at intersection of Islamic studies, liberation theology, and peace and justice studies. Through ethnographic methods and textual analysis, he studies modes of religious meaning-making and ethical reimagining by Muslims on the socio-economic margins. His writing has appeared in the Journal for the Gender and Religion in Africa, Reading Religion, and Contending Modernities. Before his graduate studies, Osman was volunteering at a small progressive Muslim congregation in Cape Town, South Africa. Osman received a Master degree in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Bachelor of Social Science Honours degree in religious studies; and a BA in political studies and religious studies from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Tala Raheb is a doctoral candidate in West and South Asian Religions (WSAR) at Emory University. Her dissertation examines how Palestinian Americans interact with Christian Zionism at the intersection of American religion and politics. Her writing has appeared in Exchange Journal of Contemporary Christianities in Context and International Bulletin of Mission Research. She has also presented her work at local and international conferences such as AAR, World Christianity Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World. In addition to her work in WSAR, Tala is pursuing a concentration in World Christianity. Tala received her BA from St. Olaf College, and her MTS from Candler School of Theology.
Mufdil Tuhri is a doctoral student in the field of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Religions. His academic interests lie at the intersection of religious studies (Islam, Christianity, and indigenous religions), anthropology, and political theology. He aims to study the relationship between religion, state, and society in Indonesia through the lens of "religious moderation." He intends to explore how the Indonesian government strategically utilizes this concept to combat extreme and radical tendencies and how it affects and reshapes people's everyday practices. Mufdil received his Bachelor's degree in Islamic Theology from the Padang State Islamic Institute in Indonesia and a Master's degree in Religious and Cross-cultural Studies from the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS) at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia.
Taha Firdous Shah is a doctoral student in West and South Asian Religions. Her work is at the convergence of Islamic studies, anthropology and peace studies. She aims to investigate how, in Kashmir, since the second half of the thirteenth century, Sufism has created an alternate space for fostering faith and peace, despite various types of socio-political inabilities in the valley. It will explore the shaping of ideas and cultures through the circulation and exchange of information from dargāhs (shrines) and khanqāhs (sufi lodges) to common households. Taha received her MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge and a BA in English Literature and History from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi.
Azadeh Vantanpour My research interest focuses on the Yārsān religious group in Iranian Kurdistan. My current research is on the correlations and connections between Yārsān’s sacred music, sacred food, sacred texts, materiality, and religious beliefs and their effects on healing and public well-being. I am also interested in the concept of Madness in Sufism and the appropriation of healing as a resistance movement and a path to liberation among marginalized religious groups.
I hold three master degrees in Iranian Culture and Languages from Shiraz University in Iran, Folk Studies, and Religious Studies from Western Kentucky University.
Eric Daniel Villalobos is a first year PhD student studying South Asian religious traditions, with a particular focus on Jainism. His research uses ethnographic and historical methodologies to examine the so-called “semi-renunciant” yati monastic lineages within mūrtipūjaka Śvetāmbara Jainism in North India. This project takes him through the history of Indian monasticism, astrology, mantra-śāstra, and the colonial encounter with South Asian indigenous medical systems. He received his BA in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MA in South Asian Area Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
Riza Yildirim My primary research interest is Alevi doctrines and praxis of Islam (broadly defined) across Islamic world with special reference to Turkey, Iran, and the Balkans. I approach to the phenomenon of “Alevi Islam” within an interdisciplinary perspective, attempting to understand it within a combined vision of popular Shi’ism, Sufism, and Islamic orthodoxy (versus heterodoxy) discourse on the one hand, and in comparison with mystic, messianic traditions in sister religious traditions with special stress on Jewish messianism, on the other. In order to better assess the intellectual infrastructure and learning tools of Alevi traditions, I am particularly interested in Oral Tradition and collective memory studies. In my previous scholarly career, I have already studied the history of Alevi and Bektashi people in the Ottoman lands. My first dissertation obtained from Bilkent University focused on the emergence of the Qizilbash identity in the course of the Otoman-Safavid imperial confrontation. In Emory University, I am further digging into religious aspects of the Alevi identity. In the meantime, I am expanding my research towards other Alevi groups such as several popular Shi’ite communities (ostensibly Twelver), Ismailis, Ahl-i Haqq, Nusayri Alevis or Alawites, and Bektashis in the Islamic world. I hope to develop a conceptual framework to understand and study these non-orthodox versions of Islam, which I provisionally call “the other Islam”, the other in a sense that the literature on Islam, both modern Western and classical Islamic, pay dramatically disproportional attention when compared to their demographic and practical prevalence among Islamic masses.
Courtney Ariel Bowden (she/her) is a songwriter, writer, and storyteller. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and Vanderbilt University with a Master of Divinity and certificates in Religion, Arts & Culture, and the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender & Sexuality. She is currently a doctoral fellow at Emory University in the Graduate Division of Religion, American Religious Cultures.
She has written articles that appear on Sojo.net, The Tennessean, CNN, and Harper's Bazaar. Her research interests center around Black women’s spiritual and religious lineages.
She identifies as an artist-scholar who shows up learning & unlearning in community.
Danny Ballon-Garst is a doctoral candidate in American Religious Cultures. He studies American religious history with a focus on the history of race, religion, and sexuality; religion and politics; and queer religious activism in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His dissertation, tentatively titled “From Gay Liberation to the War on Terror: Race, Religion, and Queer Politics in Washington, D.C., and the DMV, 1968-2008,” traces the religious history of the post-Stonewall gay rights movement in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding metropolitan area, interrogating the role of religion and religious institutions in the neoliberalization of queer politics and excavating the role queer and trans people of faith played in responding to deindustrialization, HIV/AIDS, mass incarceration, and human rights abuses abroad. Danny is a Centennial Scholars Fellow at Emory and an HTI Scholar with the Hispanic Theological Institute. For the 2023-2024 academic year, he was awarded a Totman Fellowship through the DC History Center and a Dissertation Fellowship through the Forum for Theological Exploration. Prior to matriculating at Emory, Danny received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a BA and JD from the University of Southern California. He practiced prisoners' rights law at the ACLU of Southern California and class action litigation in private practice.
Joshua Howard is a doctoral student in American Religious Cultures. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science, and from Candler School of Theology with a Master of Theological Studies. Howard studies twentieth-century American religious history with a focus on evangelicalism, gender, sexuality, race, and Christian nationalism. His research historically and ethnographically analyzes the connection between White Christian nationalism and heteropatriarchy, paying close attention to how heteropatriarchy guarded racial and social boundaries after the Civil Rights Movement. He is also interested in how White Christian nationalists proliferate heteropatriarchal ideology through digital platforms.
Christina Désert is a doctoral students in American Religious Cultures. Désert’s work focuses on African heritage religions, particularly Haitian Vodou, with special attention to women’s kinship, the archive and the poetics, and the natural world. Her writing has appeared in ConSpiracies: Breathing Together the Breath of Life, Harvard Divinity School’s Religious and Spiritual Life’s online journal. She has presented her work at the American Academy of Religion, KOSANBA, the Haitian Studies Association, and the Caribbean Studies Association. Désert received a BA in psychology and French from College of Saint Benedict, her MSW from Baylor University, and her MDIV from Harvard Divinity School.
Adam McDuffie is a doctoral student in American Religious Cultures. He earned his BA in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement, from Wake Forest University (2015), and his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (2018). Adam’s research focuses on the interactions of religion and its publics, with a particular focus on the unique religious significance of soldiers and soldier bodies in American Civil Religion. Drawing on insights from the study of religion, history, and memory, he seeks to understand how the national identity mediated by American Civil Religion shapes American perceptions of soldiers and American foreign policy itself, as well as how the ideal of the American soldier differs from the reality of soldier experience.
Ethics and Society
Silas W. Allard is a doctoral candidate in ethics and society. He also has appointments as a visiting assistant professor of practice at Emory University School of Law, a senior fellow at Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and as the managing editor of the Journal of Law and Religion. Allard’s work focuses on migration and belonging, with special attention to the role law and religion play in forming inclusive and exclusive communities. He is a co-editor of the book Christianity and the Law of Migration (Routledge, 2022). His writing has appeared in journals such as Refuge and Political Theology, and in edited collections on vulnerability, global law, international law, and migration. Prior to his doctoral studies, Allard served as Managing Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion and as a law clerk to Chief Judge Donald C. Pogue at the United States Court of International Trade. Allard received his juris doctor and master of theological studies from Emory, and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Missouri.
Daniella Hobbs is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society. Her research interests center around the contemporary ethics of racial identity formation, specifically multiracial identity in the United States. She is also interested in emerging spiritualities and cosmologies in the wake of a rise in people who identify as spiritual but not religious. Additionally, she is passionate about using digital media in order to make religious education accessible outside of the academy, and currently serves as a Digital Scholarship Assistant at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and a Senior Digital Ministry Fellow at Convergence. In addition to these positions, Daniella is also an Emory University Centennial Scholar and Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellow. Prior to Emory, Daniella received a bachelor's degree in Documentary Studies and Production with a minor in Sociology from Ithaca College, and a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in social justice advocacy from Drew Theological School.
Kevin Lazarus is a doctoral student in Ethics and Society. Lazarus’s work focuses on the intersections of theology, disability studies and bioethics to explore the role of religion in shaping conceptions of normativity and disability, particularly in medical contexts. Lazarus is a provisional deacon in the Alabama-West Florida conference of the United Methodist Church. Prior to his doctoral studies, Lazarus worked as a hospital chaplain through a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Northside Hospital Atlanta. Lazarus received a BA in Spanish and a BA in Psychology from Auburn University and an MDiv from Emory's Candler School of Theology.
Ella Myer is a doctoral candidate in Ethics and Society as well as the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies certificate program. In her dissertation, Myer analyzes the current upswell of scholarly and public interest in the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray using tools from Christian social ethics, memory studies, and feminist and queer theories. Myer’s writing has appeared in the Stellenbosch Theological Journal, Reading Religion, Moral Agency Under Constraint blog, and the Journal of the History of Ideas blog. Myer has also presented her work at conferences including the Memory Studies Association’s annual conference and a transnational symposium honoring Professor Dirk J. Smit. In addition to her dissertation work, Myer is an editorial associate for the open-access, academic journal Southern Spaces. Myer received an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Janelle Moore is a doctoral candidate in Ethics & Society. She is also a doctoral fellow with the Candler Foundry and a researcher for the Forum for Theological Exploration’s Discernment Labs initiative. Her dissertation is titled “Unsettling Resettlement: Organizations Creating Shared Sufficiency through Practices of Subversive Belonging.” Drawing on social and theological ethics, practical theology, and qualitative methods, Janelle suggests that organizations extend belonging possibilities through practices of recognition, accompaniment, design, and turning towards and away (or, solidarity and critique). She argues that these practices of subversive belonging—while formative in and of themselves—also contribute to a vision of shared sufficiency that exposes the American Dream as the nightmare it is and invites established Americans and newcomers alike to creatively resist society’s idolization of self-sufficiency.
Janelle’s writing has appeared in the Journal of Pastoral Theology and Center for Migration Studies Essays. Prior to her doctoral studies, she served as the Program Manager for Community Engagement for the refugee resettlement agency, Inspiritus, and as the Senior Administrative Coordinator for ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care & Education. Janelle received her BA in religious studies from Rhodes College and her MDiv from Candler School of Theology.
Mary Ann Robertson is a doctoral candidate in the Ethics and Society course of study. Their dissertation, tentatively titled, “Defiant Memory: Confronting Slavery and Historical Violence at an American University,” explores the relationship between slavery and its afterlives and higher education in the United States. The project engages critical history, political theology, and ethics to unpack various practices of institutional remembrance—truth-telling committees, buildings and memorials, and the designation of burial grounds—and seeks to build upon an ethical framework of “dangerous memory” that centers relationship and radical transformation.
In addition to their dissertation work and teaching, Mary Ann is the assistant managing editor for Southern Spaces, a digital, open-access journal published by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Prior to their doctoral studies, Mary Ann received their BA in Religious Studies and American Politics from the University of Virginia, and their M.Div from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Evan Bassett is a Ph.D. candidate in Hebrew Bible. Bassett’s research focuses on the social functions of prayers and psalms in ancient Israelite religion and early Judaism, drawing primarily on literary theory, rhetorical theory, and comparative approaches to religions of the ancient Near East. Bassett’s dissertation, preliminarily titled, “Models of the Suffering Self in Biblical Psalms of Thanksgiving,” moves beyond earlier, form-critical approaches to psalmic genres to provide a fresh assessment of the rhetoric and social functionality of thanksgiving psalmody in ancient Israelite religion. In addition to his doctoral studies at Emory, Bassett is also Upper School Religion Teacher and Chair of the Religion Department at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, GA, where he teaches courses in biblical studies, religion, and philosophy.
Asia Lerner-Gay is a doctoral student of Hebrew Bible. Her research interests include theological interpretations of scripture, iconographic study, comparative analysis, and gender critical readings of scripture. Asia is also active in her ecclesial life, with connections to Pentecostal and Presbyterian worshipping communities. She received an M. Div. from Candler School of Theology (2022), and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Southeastern University (2018).
Caitlin Joy Hubler is a PhD Candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her work engages conceptions of divinity within the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near East using historical and philosophical lenses. Hubler’s dissertation, tentatively titled “Deutero-Isaiah’s Aniconic Logic: Divine Ontology in the Anti-Idol Polemics,” investigates assumptions about divine nature, embodiment, and representation in Deutero-Isaiah’s anti-idol polemics. Her writing has appeared in Journal for the Study of Old Testament and the Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (forthcoming) as well as The Biblical Mind, Mockingbird Magazine, and the Project on Lived Theology. Prior to her doctoral studies, Caitlin taught high-school introductory Greek and worked as Editorial Assistant at the Society of Biblical Literature. Hubler received a B.S. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and an M. Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary.
Rosy Kandathil is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “Seriously Funny: Comedy and Violence in the Narrative Traditions of Esther,” is a comparative literary investigation of humor and violence in the Hebrew and Greek versions of Esther. Drawing on postcolonial and feminist approaches, her project argues that these literary dynamics provide a witness to an ethical and political discourse on the use of violence, the notion of “holy war” in the history of the Israelite people, and a struggle to define Jewish identity among multi-generational geographically dispersed diaspora communities. Her writing has appeared in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law and Tjurunga Australasian Benedictine Review. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a trial attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City. Rosy Kandathil received her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, her J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and her M.A. and Th.M. in Sacred Scripture from Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary.
Ian MacGillivray is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. His dissertation, titled “The Production of a Prophet: Connecting Character and Composition in the Book of Jeremiah,” explores the complex status of Jeremiah as a prophetic character in the biblical text. Integrating recent research on scribal culture and the composition of Jeremiah with the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze on language and literature, the project shows how the figure of Jeremiah is produced by diverse literary and sociohistorical forces that have shaped the text and its reception. Ian received his BA in philosophy from Harvard University, and his MAR from Yale Divinity School.
Eric D. McDonnell, Jr., is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. His work focuses on literary theories and the book of Psalms. His writing has appeared in Hebrew Studies, Antiguo Oriente, and the Review of Biblical Literature.
McDonnell is ordained to a vocation of teaching by First Baptist Church of Decatur, and is active in public theological education. He received a BA in English at the University of Akron in 2016 and a MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2018.
Timothy McNinch is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. His dissertation, titled “Icon of Aniconism: Multiple Ark Ideologies in 1 Samuel 4–6,” traces the complex composition history of the so-called “Ark Narrative.” Bringing together critical methods, literary approaches, and the findings of recent archaeological excavations, the project explores the contributions of successive generations of authors, who each reshaped this story according to the political and religious needs of their own communities. Timothy’s writing has appeared in Vetus Testamentum and Bible and Critical Theory, and he is an editor and regular contributor to the “Politics of Scripture” blog at the Political Theology Network. Timothy is the creator and co-host of the popular preaching podcast, “First Reading” (firstreadingpodcast.com) and curates a biblical languages YouTube channel with over 20,000 subscribers (youtube.com/timmcninch). Timothy received his BA from Kalamazoo College and his MDiv from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. https://timothymcninch.com
Chelsea Mak is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “‘Therefore the Land Mourns:’ The Ecological Body in 8th Century Israelite Religion,” explores how the religious ecology of Israelite religion is revealed in the mutually constitutive relationship between the body and land as found in text and material culture. Attending to a multiplicity of narratives in dialectical encounter, those of the land and the prophetic texts of Hosea, Amos, and Micah, the project further illuminates the stakes of Israelite religious practices as situated within the political economy of the 8th century BCE. Chelsea’s writing has appeared in the edited volume, Theodicy and Hope in the Book of the Twelve and on the Politics of Scripture, a blog that is a part of the Political Theology Network and of which she is series editor. She is also pursuing a concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology. Chelsea received her BA in Christian Studies from Ambrose University and her MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Ambrose Seminary.
Forrest Martin is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. His interests include literary criticism, performance and ritual, cosmology, and cross-cultural transfer—especially the lingering effects of Egyptian colonialism on ancient Israel and the wider Levant. Before coming to Emory, Forrest received his M.A. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and his B.A. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (with a second major in Classical Greek) from the University of Washington, where he also worked as a pre-doctoral instructor
Michelle Navarrete is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. Her research interests include lament psalms, liturgy, themes of exile and marginality, second-generation Mexican American perspectives, and the prophetic and poetic that embodies all of these things. She is a current Scholar-in-Residence at World Outspoken, an organization passionate about supporting the Latine church, and she has written articles with them on mujerista evangélica interpretation. Michelle received a B.A. in Religious Studies from North Central College, an M.A. in Theological Studies from Evangel University, and an M.A. in Old Testament Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College.
Mark Preston Stone is a doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. Stone’s work focuses on theodicy, ancient sexualities, and the literary development of Hebrew narratives. His writing has appeared in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, the Review of Biblical Literature, and an edited volume on holiness in the Wesleyan tradition. He has presented at the Society of Biblical Literature. Prior to his doctoral studies, Stone worked as an adjunct instructor at Seattle Pacific University, and as an executive research assistant for Decisive Data. Stone received a B.A. in Theology and an M.A. in Christian Scripture, both from Seattle Pacific University.
Rachel Erin Stuart is a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible. Her dissertation, titled “Semantic Gender in the Book of Ezekiel: A Cognitive-Linguistic Analysis of Social Gender,” explores the relationship between grammatical gender and social gender roles in Ezekiel. Drawing on the work of scholars such as Lera Boroditsky, the dissertation argues that attention to the grammatical details of a passage provides a source of information regarding implicit beliefs about and experiences of human and divine gender in key sections of the book, including chapters 1, 16, and 37. Her writing has appeared in the Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, and her conference presentations include "Whom Shall They Know?: An Analysis of Divine Self-Expression in the Phrase Ani Yhwh," presented at SBL/AAR in 2020. Stuart is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2017, and her undergraduate degrees from the University of Rochester in 2014 (B.S., Physics; B.A., Music, Religion).
Historical Studies in Theology and Religion
Alyssa Lynn Elliott is a is a doctoral student in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion.
Her general focus is on Christian theology in the 2nd-7th centuries in the Greek, Syriac, and Latin traditions. Elliott’s current work focuses on homiletic and catechetical literature in the 4th century, particularly in the way they articulate the developing pneumatology of that era.
Her broader research interests include the development of angelology and demonology, the role of exorcisms in Christian initiation, and the use of teaching hymns in the Syriac tradition. Elliott is an ordained minister in the Christian Churches of the Stone-Campbell Movement. She holds a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Historical Theology from Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan University and a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Manhattan Christian College.
Grayden McCashen is a doctoral candidate in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion. His dissertation, titled “Piety and Salvation in Irenaeus of Lyons,” uses Irenaeus’ theological notion of piety to elucidate the connection between belief in right doctrine and the salvation of an individual human being in Irenaeus. It then draws out further implications for Irenaeus’ theology, writing, and place in the development of Christian doctrine and identity. Grayden’s research is set to appear in Journal of Theological Studies, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Studia Patristica, and Vigiliae Christianae. Prior to his doctoral studies, Grayden received a M.Phil. in Theology (Patristics) at the University of Oxford, B.A. in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute, and A.A. from Northwest State Community College.
Evgeniia Muzychenko (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Historical Studies program. Evgeniia focuses on the history of Evangelical missions in late colonial India, specifically, in Maharashtra. Evgeniia’s main research interests center around the history of Christianity in India, missiology, Hindu-Christian dialogue, and conversion. Evgeniia received her BA in Asian and African Studies at Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) in 2019. As a Fulbright scholar, Evgeniia completed a Master’s program in Theological Studies at Villanova University (Pennsylvania) in 2022.
Victoria (Yun-Ching) Shen is a doctoral student in Historical Studies in Theology and Religion. Shen’s work focuses on East Asian Christian political activism since the 1950s, especially in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Her master’s thesis was East Asia Christian Identity and Political Activism-Case Study of Rev. Kao Chun-Ming.
Prior to her doctoral studies, Shen worked as an admission intern and research assistant in the Candler School of Theology and volunteered as the Youth and Worship Coordinator in the Atlanta Taiwanese Presbyterian Church. Shen received the Master of Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and she received the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies & History from the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Jewish Religious Cultures
Keenan Wills Davis is a doctoral candidate in Jewish Religious Cultures, with a concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Aspiring to Autonomy,” ethnographically investigates the first-person experiences of patients undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation in the treatment of psychiatric conditions, bringing into conversation the fields of bioethics, disability studies, anthropology of ethics, and cognitive science. His writing has appeared in the American Journal of Bioethics, and he is the winner of Emory University’s 2017 David R. Blumenthal award for the best paper in Jewish Studies. Prior to his doctoral studies, he served as a Teach For America corps member and taught high school chemistry, biology, physics, and math. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, he studied neuroscience and Jewish Studies (Interdisciplinary), graduating with highest distinction. He completed an MA in bioethics at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, with a thesis analyzing the relationship between biotechnology and human dignity. He is also currently pursuing an MD at Emory University’s School of Medicine.
Chava Green is a doctoral candidate in Jewish Religious Cultures. Her dissertation, titled “The Hasidic Face of Feminism: A Jewish Ethics of Difference in 21st Century America,” considers the way Chabad Hasidism has developed a religious and mystical discourse of women’s empowerment as an alternative to secular feminism. Drawing on ethnographic research with Chabad women in Jewish outreach, her project looks at how these religious women seek to create a notion of traditional gender values that appeal to a liberal, secular, Jewish public. Her writing has appeared in On Our Terms: The Undergraduate Journal of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Practical Matters: A Journal of Religious Practice and Practical Theology and Chabad.org. Chava has presented at the AJS and at a series of conferences in response to Phil Wexler’s book, Social Vision: The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Transformative Paradigm for the World. Prior to her doctoral studies, she spent time learning in seminary in Israel and working for Chabad on Campus at Columbia University and UPenn. She received her BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University.
Haley Gabrielle is a doctoral candidate in New Testament. Her dissertation, titled, "Choosing Tradition: A South Asian Feminist Reading of the Circumcision of Timothy," offers a new reading which centers the agency of Timothy and opposes Orientalizing approaches to the study of Second Temple Judaism. Drawing on South Asian feminist theory, she constructs a framework within which Timothy may be read as choosing his circumcision as an expression of his Jewish identity within the coalitional group of the Way. Haley's writing has appeared in the journal The Bible & Critical Theory. She participates in intersectional justice organizing with groups like Voices of Color: Christians United and Asian American Justice + Innovation Lab, and she is an active lay member of an affirming church. Haley received her BA in Classics (Latin and Greek) from Kenyon College, and her Master of Arts in Religion, concentrated in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale Divinity School.
Chantel R. Heister is a doctoral student in New Testament. Heister’s work focuses on conceptions of demonic forces in ancient Jewish and early Christian literature; extrabiblical literature and material culture from the Hellenistic and Roman periods; and translation studies. Her writing on Jezebel’s punishment in Revelation 2:22 has been published in the journal Currents in Biblical Research, and she has presented on the same topic at the Society of Biblical Literature’s international meeting. Prior to her doctoral studies, Heister worked as an editor and journalist. She received a bachelor’s in English and Philosophy from Colorado Mesa University and a master’s in theological studies from George Fox University
Youjeong Rachel Jeon is a doctoral student in New Testament. Jeon’s work focuses on the themes of travel, diaspora, and exile and the literary portrayal of spaces in the New Testament with special focus on the historical-social context of first century Roman Empire, transnationalism, translation theories, and narrative criticism. Jeon is a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and is also interested in how biblical interpretation functions for identity formation in bi-cultural and bi-lingual diaspora communities. Prior to her doctoral studies, Jeon served as a youth pastor in Korean immigrant churches in Massachusetts and as the program director of Peacemakers for Korea, a non-profit dedicated towards peace-building in the Korean Peninsula. Jeon received her BA in English literature from Yonsei University in South Korea, M.Div from Harvard Divinity School, and STM in New Testament from Yale Divinity School.
Gilha Lee is a Ph.D. student with a concentration in New Testament at the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University. His primary academic interest has to do with Pauline conceptions of “reconciliation,” involving the questions “What were the Jewish traditions from which Paul drew his understanding of reconciliation in relation to Christ?” (intertextual perspective) and “How did his contemporary Greco-Roman society and culture influence his message conveyed in the form of a text?” (socio-cultural perspective). Gilha holds a B.Ec. with double majors in economics and English linguistics from Kyung Hee University, South Korea (2008), an M.Div. from Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) (2011), South Korea, and two Th.M. degrees, one from PUTS (2016) and the other from Candler School of Theology, Emory University (2018). He is also an ordained pastor, currently living in Decatur with his wife Ae Young and two small children.
Herman Arnolus Manoe is a doctoral student in the New Testament at the Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University. Manoe’s work utilizes postcolonial theory, intersectionality, feminism, sexuality, and slavery studies to read the New Testament texts. He is a member of the Protestant Evangelical Church in Timor (GMIT)-Indonesia. Manoe earned his master’s in theological studies (M.T.S) from Boston University School of Theology (2023) and his bachelor’s in theology (S.Si-Teol) from Satya Wacana Christian University (2018) in Indonesia.
Oliver Terngu (Terngu) I come from Nigeria, West Africa. I graduated from Pontifical Urbanian University Rome, Italy, with a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil) in 2013, and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B) in 2018 and was ordained a Catholic priest for the diocese of Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria on September 1, 2018. I obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Nigeria in 2020 and Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L) in Biblical Studies and Languages form Boston College, USA in 2023. I have taught in high school and the pre-seminary in Makurdi Diocese, and worked at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria, as a chaplain and a lecturer.
I am interested in the issues of poverty, social justice, race, unity, and postcolonial biblical interpretation of the parables of the historical Jesus. I intend to engage the parables of the historical Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels with a focus on Q parables that describe poverty and social justice, and their relationship to the kingdom of God within the first century Roman Palestine. I seek to explore the interpretation of these parables, and how such interpretations have hermeneutical bearing on the issues of social injustice, marginalization, poverty and postcolonial understanding of the Bible in the African context, particularly Nigeria. The fruit of my research will proffer possible considerations that would serve as panacea to issues of ideological biblical interpretation and the vicious circle of poverty in most African countries.Person, Community, and Religious Life
Emilie Casey is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life as well as the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies certificate program. Casey’s research uses critical theories of race, gender, and sexuality to examine histories of preaching across American print culture. More broadly she is interested in questions of materiality, capitalism, and temporality. Her writing has appeared in Feminist Theology. She is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Prior to her doctoral studies, Casey served as the Director of Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. She received her BM from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) and MDiv and STM from Yale Divinity School.
Diandra M. Darby is a doctoral student in Person, Community and Religious Life. Darby’s work focuses on womanist preaching, with a special focus on the ways in which the content and construction of womanist sermons might inform the ways we teach preaching. Prior to her doctoral studies, Darby served on the ministerial staff of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. John R. Adolph. Darby received a Bachelor’s in General Studies from Lamar University, her M.Div. from The Interdenominational Theological Center, and a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Corwin Malcolm Davis is a doctoral candidate in Person, Community, and Religious Life, and earning a certificate in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Davis’ work focuses on the complex relationship of Black religious rhetoric and the psyche, inclusive of pastoral theology, queer theory, and studies in Blackness and performance. Corwin earned a B.A. Degree from Belmont University and a M.Div. from Vanderbilt University Divinity School as the Dean's Scholar. At Emory, Davis has received the George W. Woodruff Fellowship, the Centennial Scholars Fellowship, and externally, fellowships from the Louisville Institute, The Forum for Theological Exploration, and Sacred Writes. His writing has appeared in recent issues of Religions, Theology and Sexuality, and Homiletics. His work has also been recognized in scholarship through the receipt of Emory’s 2022 Studies in Sexualities Graduate Award, and in public writing through features in literary publications such as Columbia Journal.
Jazzy Johnson is a community educator specializing in curating and facilitating transformative liturgical and religious education experiences of learning at the intersections of Christian faith, identity, justice, and repair. Prior to Emory, Jazzy designed and directed immersive learning experiences for college students in Chicago. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Sociology Minor and Emory University Candler School of Theology with her Master of Divinity degree, certificate in Religious Education and concentration in Justice, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. Jazzy is currently a doctoral student at Emory University in the Graduate Division of Religion in the Person, Community and Religious Life course of study.
As a practitioner, Jazzy facilitates and researches B/bibliodrama, a method of embodied collective storytelling and pluralistic, interpretive, play practice . Jazzy’s research interests live within the interconnections between pedagogy, performance, play(ing), and protest in Liturgics and Religious Education, with particular attention to the relationship between Black women’s bodies and the body(ies) of the Earth.
Laura Montoya-Cifuentes is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Her work analyzes gender and sexuality practices and theologies of Latin American Pentecostal women. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, she concluded in 2011 a six-year program in Psychology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She worked as a community Psychologist for several years, helping communities affected by the sixty years of war in her country. She graduated from the Master of Divinity program at Boston University School of Theology in 2022. Her academic interests also include Liberation Theologies, Feminist Studies, Sociology of Religion, and Pentecostal Studies.
Shanise Palmer is a doctoral student in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Palmer’s work focuses on the rhetorical strategies and the contextual implications of Black women’s voices in the preaching moment. She is an ordained Baptist minister. Prior to her doctoral studies, Palmer served as her church’s first Pastor of Preaching, allowing her to provide oversight of its ministerial training program. Palmer received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her M.Div. from Shaw University Divinity School, and her Th.M. from Emory’s Candler School of Theology.
Jessie Washington is a doctoral candidate in Person, Community, and Religious Life. Her dissertation, entitled "For Colored Girls Who Have Attempted Suicide: A Practical Theology of Black Women's Mental Health," explores the experience of Black women suicide attempters through ethnographic methods and digital storytelling. Jessie aims to develop a theology of testimony and witness that articulates how faith communities can better support the mental health needs of Black women.
In addition to her dissertation work and teaching, Jessie provides spirituality group counseling with The Nia Project, which supports Black women who have experienced intimate partner violence and/or suicidality. Jessie is also a mentor and writing coach with Emory's Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program.
Jessie earned an AB in African and African American Studies at Harvard University and an MSW and MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a recipient of the Centennial Scholars Fellowship from Emory and the Doctoral Fellowship from the Forum for Theological Exploration.
Wyatt Harris is a doctoral candidate in Theological Studies. His dissertation, titled “The Doctrine of Justification and the Problem of Antiblackness” offers a constructive account of the Christian doctrine of justification in light of contemporary questions, especially those of race and antiblackness. This project analyzes recent accounts of, and debates surrounding, the Christian doctrine of justification, especially in the Lutheran tradition, and routes these through relevant concerns raised by both black theologians and radical black studies scholars, with a particular focus on Afropessimism, and argues that the doctrine must account for, and be informed by, such concerns in order to be adequately expressed and understood today. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Reformed Theology and Scriptura. Prior to his doctoral studies, he served as adjunct faculty in the Alabama Community College System’s Marion Military Institute and taught World Religions, New Testament Survey, and Old Testament Survey. Wyatt received his BA in English from The University of Mississippi and his M.Div from Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.
David Thien Le is a doctoral student in Theological Studies. He is interested in constructive Christian theologies as they relate to post-supersessionism, ecclesiology, political theology, and questions of human difference. Prior to his doctoral studies, he lived and served, with his now-married wife, in Christian communities for people with differing (dis)abilities in Durham, North Carolina working in conjunction with Duke University and various non-profit organizations before moving with his wife to Atlanta. David received his M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School and his B.S. in Biochemistry from Baylor University.
Der Lor is a Ph.D. student in Theological Studies. His general interests include theologies of the cross (Reformation to contemporary), Asian American theologies, and the relationships between revelation, epistemology, and ethics. His research explores a constructive theology at the sites of Hmong American political and religious meaning-making through a transpacific lens. Prior to doctoral studies, Der was a pastor of worship, discipleship, and teaching. He received his M.A.T. in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and Th.M. in systematic theology/ethics from Luther Seminary.