On 10 October 2019, Johanna Stiebert delivered her inaugural lecture as Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Leeds. The title of her paper is “Why I Love Studying the Bible even though (and because) It’s Perverse”.
“In this inaugural lecture Professor Stiebert discusses her chequered and international career learning and teaching about Hebrew language and biblical studies. Her lecture focuses especially on biblical texts that surprised her – not least on account of their graphic nature. Her concluding remarks focus on the responsibilities of professors and on academic integrity.”
About Johanna Stiebert
Johanna Stiebert majored in Biblical Hebrew, alongside English Literature, at the University of Otago (New Zealand), graduating with honours in 1992. She continued her studies with a two-year MPhil in Hebrew Bible at the University of Cambridge and then her PhD on shame in biblical prophetic literature at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1998. By this time she had started her first teaching post at St. Martin’s University College (now the University of Cumbria) in Lancaster. Wanting to travel, she was about to go teach English as a second language with VSO in Madagascar, when she was appointed to a teaching post in Hebrew Bible at the University of Botswana. Three years in Botswana were transformative, including professionally. There at the height of the HIV/Aids pandemic, it became sharply clear that the Bible played an active part in matters of life and death. The Bible has since become in her own research much more than ‘just’ a fascinating, ancient object of study. Johanna has continued to work with scholarly and other communities in southern Africa and, more recently, also in other parts of the continent. After Botswana and before joining the University of Leeds, she worked at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This environment, too, being in a state University in the buckle of the Bible Belt during the Bush years, was formative.
Johanna has been at Leeds for ten years and teaches modules on the Bible and Judaism. She has just completed her fifth monograph, her third in Leeds. She is currently involved in four research projects, all centred in some way around the Shiloh Project, an initiative exploring the intersections of rape culture, gender-based violence and religion. She has still not got to Madagascar.