Andrea Saner will help Eastern Mennonite Seminary (EMS) and undergraduate students find connections between the ancient texts of the Old Testament and our modern world and church life. The newest member of the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and seminary faculty, Saner has been named assistant professor of Old Testament and Hebrew language.
“My favorite moment in teaching is when students realize that even though the Old Testament is thousands of years old, the texts talk about subjects that are still very important to us today,” said Saner. “In these moments students learn that reading these old texts is still a crucial formative and informative practice for the community of faith today.”
A joint venture
Saner is the first faculty to be an official joint hire between the undergraduate Bible and religion department and EMS.
“During my campus visit, I was impressed and stimulated by the engagement of faculty, students and staff with my research and teaching, which suggests the learning environments of EMS and the EMU Bible and religion department are energetic and exciting,” said Saner. “I’m very excited to get to teach both seminary students and undergraduates, because seminary and college students ask different sorts of questions.”
Peter Dula, Bible and religion chair, praised Saner as an Old Testament scholar, “capable of technical exegesis as well as theological interpretation of scripture. She is also a gifted theologian who has written on both sixteenth century Anabaptism and on Augustine. That kind of range is rare anywhere in the academy, not just at EMS.”
Saner will enhance EMS’s leading-edge vision, said Michael King, vice president and seminary dean. “Hiring Andrea makes even clearer that EMS is entering an exciting era of developing a core faculty team that integrates the wisdom, experience and mentoring gifts of our longer-career faculty and the energies and visions of early-career faculty,” he said. “I see this contributing to leading-edge perspectives at a time of major transitions in culture, church and higher education.”
Saner is enthusiastic about the Old Testament’s lessons pertaining to justice: “The Torah gives provision for the vulnerable in society, and there is a consistent witness in the Old Testament for the need to trust God rather than human, military strength. But at the same time the Old Testament may not conform entirely to what a twenty-first-century Christian might expect a pacifist text to look like.
“Education in peacemaking is not only about what one teaches, but how one teaches; a good classroom is one in which students respect one another’s viewpoints and experiences, especially when they disagree,” she said, adding that she will be “glad to be at an institution that is committed to following Jesus Christ in faithful witness, compassionate service and nonviolent living.”
Saner graduated from Messiah College in 2005 and earned her master of arts in theological studies, Biblical theology and ethics from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2008. She is finishing a PhD in Old Testament at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Her dissertation is titled “YHWH, the Trinity, and the Literal Sense: Theological Interpretation of Exodus 3:13-15” She will begin at EMU and EMS in August, 2013.