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Revd Canon Professor Susan Gillingham

The Book of Psalms has been a consistent focus in my research: in the 1980s I completed a doctorate at Keble College which countered the then dominant cult-functional approach to the Psalms by viewing them as personal, universal prayers. My first book was entitled The Poems and Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (1994) and I have published some ten books since then and am in process of submitting another three. I have some sixty articles in print.  

I have stayed mainly in Oxford since my doctorate days, having taught for the Faculty and various Colleges for nearly forty years, having served the Faculty in many different guises over this time, focussing especially on Access initaitves and Undergraduate Welfare. Throughout this period I have acquired several national and international academic associations,  especially with the Univerities of Malta, Bonn, Göttingen, Strasbourg, Upsala, Pretoria, Baylor TX and Georgia GA.   I have given some eighty conference papers and named lectures, mostly on issues relating to studies on the Psalms and multivalent readings of Scripture.

I was made a University Lecturer in Old Testament and Fellow and Tutor in Theology at Worcester College in 1995. In the late 1990s I became increasingly interested in ‘Reception History’ as a method for understanding the multivalent nature of biblical texts, especially the Psalms. As this requires some appreciation of nearly three thousand years of cultural history, both Jewish and Christian, and as the discipline takes in not only the translation and commentary tradition but also reception in liturgy, art, music, poetry, film, and social, political and ethical discourse, I have nurtured many different research projects over the last twenty years.  The most significant has been founding and overseeing the Oxford Psalms Network with TORCH with two Medievalists from the English Faculty. This was chosen as one of four impact submissions for the REF.

Reception History is now a seminal discipline throughout the Humanities and one of my major contributions has been a three-volume commentary on the Psalms with Wiley-Blackwell publishing, entitled Psalms through the Centuries. I was made a Reader in 2008, a Professor in 2014, was given a Professorial Distinction award in 2016, and awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity (DD) in 2015, being only the second woman to receive such an award. I prize teaching as much as research, so to have been shortlisted by OUSU for the ‘Most Acclaimed Lecturer of the Year’ award in 2018 gave me special pleasure.  I was elected as President of the Society for Old Testament Study from 2018-19 and am an active member of the Society for Biblical Literature. I retired in 2019 with the title of Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew Bible and am now a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College and serve the Faculty as Director of the Psalms Network under the auspices of TORCH.   I have recently been ordained as a Permanent Deacon and I suspect this, as well as the Book of Psalms, might keep me busy in years to come.