Dr. Esther Menn, the Ralph W. and Marilyn R. Klein Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, began a five-year term as dean and vice president for academic affairs at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) on January 1. Her installation service will be held in the Augustana Chapel at LSTC on Wednesday, February 5 at 11 a.m.
“Because the academic mission of LSTC is central to our identity, it needs the strong leadership Dr. Menn has already shown as a skillful teacher, fine scholar, and educational visionary,” said James Nieman, president. “Esther is respected and trusted by her faculty colleagues, and can build on the solid practices in the Academic Dean’s office left in place by her predecessor, Michael Shelley, for whose tenure we are also grateful. Supported by an excellent staff, she will bring fresh, creative thinking to bear on our curricula, pedagogy, research, and structures. I am eager for her to lead us in all these areas during the years ahead.”
Dr. Menn was elected by LSTC’s Board of Directors in May 2013 on the recommendation of President James Nieman and with the concurrence of the faculty.
“I look forward to new responsibilities and joys as Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, at what feels like a kairos moment in LSTC's history. Our confidence remains grounded in the good news of Jesus Christ, as we seek new ways to witness and serve our vulnerable world so loved by God,” said Dr. Menn. “The current curriculum revision by LSTC's excellent faculty, with its emphasis on the church's public witness today, is an example of innovation for the sake of the gospel. I sense that LSTC is living ever more fully into its identity as an inclusive and dynamic center of theological education for the ELCA and for all God's people. As I move into the Dean's office, I encourage you to pray with me, especially for the students, that their engagement in LSTC's degree and certificate programs equip them generously for their vocations as pastors, teachers, administrators, youth leaders, and people of strong faith in all walks of life.”
Scholar, leader in interfaith relations
Menn, a 1985 graduate of LSTC, (M.A.), joined the faculty in 2001as associate professor of Old Testament. From 2007-2013, Menn served as director of advanced studies. She also coordinates the Biblical Emphasis at LSTC and organizes events in Jewish-Christian relations. Menn is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Consultative Panel on Lutheran –Jewish Relations and of the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. With colleague Barbara Rossing, professor of New Testament at LSTC, Menn organizes and leads the study trip, “The World of the Bible: Ancient Sites and Current Struggles,” to Israel and Palestine every other year.
Menn earned the master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Before joining LSTC’s faculty, she taught in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia. She is an active scholar who regularly makes presentations at national and regional meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature. Her scholarly interests include literary and rhetorical study of the Bible, feminist and multicultural appropriations of scripture, the history of biblical interpretation, and Jewish-Christian relations. She is the author of Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38) in Ancient Jewish Exegesis: Studies in Literary Form and Hermeneutics (1997, Brill) and co-editor of Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation about the Bible (2007, Fortress). Menn has published numerous articles and chapters in books. She is currently editing a book on contemporary approaches to the Psalms.
Menn lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago with her spouse, Bruce Tammen, director of the renowned Chicago Chorale, and their family.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.