David M. Rhoads Professor of New Testament, Emeritus


    B.A. Gettysburg College
    M.A. Oxford University
    M.Div. Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
    Ph.D. Duke University


David M. Rhoads is professor of New Testament, Emeritus, at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Ordained in 1968, Rhoads was pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Asheboro, N.C.(1968-1970), and professor of religion at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis. (1973-1988), before joining the seminary's faculty in 1988. He taught seminary courses and doctoral seminars, supervised doctoral dissertations, and served as chair of the Biblical Division. He is married to the Rev. Sandra Roberts. He has two children and five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. They live in Racine, Wisconsin.

Widely published, Rhoads is the author of Israel in Revolution: 6-74 CE. A Political History based on the Writings of Josephus (Fortress Press, 1976); Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel. Third edition with Joanna Dewey and Donald Michie (Fortress Press, 2012); The Challenge of Diversity: The Witness of Paul and the Gospels (Fortress Press, 1996); and Reading Mark, Engaging the Gospel (Fortress Press, 2004). In 1999, he co-edited with Kari Syreeni Characterization in the Gospels: Rethinking Narrative Criticism (Sheffield Academic Press). He edited From Every People and Nation: The Book of Revelation in Intercultural Perspective, a collection of essays by scholars from different social locations (Fortress Press, 2006). With David Esterline and Jae Won Lee, he edited Luke-Acts and Empire (Wipf and Stock, 2010).

Rhoads is lead editor of the Biblical Performance Criticism series of volumes under Wipf and Stock Press. He belongs to a number of scholarly societies, including the Society of Biblical Literature and the Society of New Testament Studies.

Through memorized dramatic performances, Rhoads is an oral interpreter of Biblical writings that include The Gospel of Mark, the Sermon on the Mount, Galatians, Philemon, James, I Peter, and the Book of Revelation. In addition, he has taught in the Select program of video courses for continuing theological education.

An enthusiastic environmentalist, Rhoads was advisor to the seminary's Green Zone Committee planned eco-conferences, edited guidebooks for parishes, and helped initiate the Web of Creation, an online environmental service for congregations. He also directed the Green Congregation Program, which worked primarily with clusters of congregations in some Midwest synods of the ELCA. Rhoads wrote The Green Congregation Training Manual and, with David Glover, A Guide for Churches, Their Buildings and Grounds. Both manuals are available online.

In 2008, Rhoads founded Lutherans Restoring Creation, a program fostering creation care in all sectors of the ELCA. It is now run by an independent advisory board and directed by Phoebe Morad. He is also co-hosts Let All Creation Praise, devoted to ecumenical creation care worship resources. In 2015, he founded Greening Greater Racine, dedicated to promoting a healthy and more sustainable community in his hometown of Racine, including a number of initiatives such the Southeast Wisconsin Solar Group Buy Program, the Racine Sustainable Business Network, the Zero Waste Initiative, and an annual EcoFest.

To promote care for creation in faith communities, Rhoads edited a collection of sermons by 36 different theologians and preachers: Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet (Continuum, 2007). With Paul Santmire and Norman Habel, he wrote and edited commentary from scholars around the world: The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentary (Fortress Press, 2011).

Rhoads received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa., and the Bachelor of Divinity degree from Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary. The Master of Arts degree was bestowed by Oxford University, Oxford, England, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Duke University, Durham, N.C.

Rhoads was awarded the Teacher of the Year at Carthage College in 1975. In 2004, he received the Fortress Press Teacher of the Year Award for Innovative Teaching in a Graduate Setting. In the same year, he was granted a Lilly Faculty Fellows Award. He was named Distinguished Alumnus by the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary in 2005. He was granted an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Carthage College in 2009 and from the Moravian Theological Seminary in 2016. Three publications were dedicated to honor his work: “Faith and Earthkeeping: A Tribute to the Environmental Ministry of David Rhoads,” Currents in Theology and Mission Volume 37/2, 2010; “Changing the Landscape of New Testament Studies: Essays in Honor of David M. Rhoads,” Currents in Theology and Mission Volume 37/4, 2010; and Mark as Story: Retrospect and Prospect edited by Kelly Iverson and Christopher Skinner (Society of Biblical Literature, 2011).

Published Works

    Books (from the earliest)

    Israel in Revolution 6-74 C. E. A Political History of Israel based on the Writings of Josephus. Fortress, 1976.

    Epiphany (Proclamation 5; Series B): Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year. Fortress, 1993.

    The Challenge of Diversity: The Witness of Paul and the Gospels. Fortress, 1996.

    Reading Mark, Engaging the Gospel. Fortress, 2004.

    Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (3rd edition) with Joanna Dewey and Donald Michie. Fortress, 2012.

    Editor. From Every People and Nation: The Book of Revelation in Intercultural Perspective. Fortress, 2005.

    Editor. Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet. Continuum Press, 2007.

    Editor with David Esterline and Jae Won Lee, Luke-Acts and Empire. Wipf and Stock, 2010.

    Editor with Norman Habel and Paul Santmire, The Seasons of Creation: A Preaching Commentary. Fortress Press, 2011.

    Articles (from the most recent)

    “Performance Criticism” in The Dictionary of the Bible in Ancient Media edited by Tom Thatcher (T&T Clark, 2017) .

    “From Narrative in Print to Narrative in Performance” [translated into French] in The Proceedings of the 2014 RRENAB Conference edited by Alain Gignac (Peeters, 2016).

    “Foundations for an Eco-Reformation” in Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril, edited by Lisa Dahill and James Martin Schramm (Wipf and Stock, 2016).

    “From Church Property to Earth Community: Ethical Action for the Land” Journal of Lutheran Ethics (February, 2015).

    “Performance Criticism: A Paradigm Shift in New Testament Studies,” with Joanna Dewey, in From Text to Performance, edited by Kelly Iverson (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

    “Hospitality in the Classroom” in Currents in Theology and Mission, Vol. 40, No. 4 (2013).

    “Teaching as Vocation: Autobiographical Reflections” in Currents in Theology and Mission, Vol. 40, No. 4 (2013).

    “Recovering the Bible as Oral Performances in Community” in Teaching the Bible in the Parish (and Beyond) (Hein Fry Lectures for 2010) (Lutheran University Press, 2011).

    “Narrative Criticism of the New Testament,” in Method and Meaning: Essays on New Testament Interpretation in Honor of Harold Attridge, Edited by Andrew McGowan and Kent Richards (Society of Biblical Literature, 2011) 107-124.

    With Sandra Roberts. “Justification by Grace: Shame and Acceptance in a County Jail” in The Shame Factor: How Shame Shapes Society, Robert Jewett, editor (Wipf and Stock, 2010).

    “The Art of Translating for Performance,” in Finding a Woman’s Place: Essays in Honor of Carolyn Osiek edited by David Balch and Jason Lamoreaux (Wipf and Stock, 2010).

    With Barbara Rossing, “A Beloved Community: Christian Mission in an Ecological Age” in Mission after Christendom: Emergent Themes in Contemporary Mission (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010).

    “Performance Events in Early Christianity: New Testament Writings in an Oral Context,” in The Interface of Orality and Literacy: Speaking, Seeing, Writing in the Shaping of New Genres, Annette Weissenreider and Robert B. Coote (Mohr Siebeck, 2010).

    "Biblical Performance Criticism: Performance as Research” in Oral Tradition in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam edited by Werner Kelber and Paula Sanders (Oral Tradition, 2010, 25/1).

    "Social Criticism: Crossing Boundaries" in Mark and Method ed. by Janice Capel Anderson and Stephen Moore. Second Edition. (Fortress, 2008).

    "The Political Jesus: Can There Be Any Other?" in Mission with the Marginalized: Life and Witness of Rev. Dr. Prasanna K. Samuel, Edited by Samuel Meshack. (Christava Sahitya Samithi, 2007).

    "Performance Criticism: An Emerging Discipline in Second Testament Studies" (Part One and Part Two) Biblical Theology Bulletin (2006).

    "Children of Abraham, Children of God: Metaphorical Kinship in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians" Currents in Theology and Mission (2004).

    "Who will Speak for the Sparrow? Eco-Justice Criticism and the New Testament" in Literary Encounters with the Reign of God: Festschrift for Robert Tannehill. T & T Clark, 2003).

    "Narrative Criticism: Practices and Prospects." In Characterization in the Gospels. (Sheffield Academic Press, 1999).

    "The Letter of James: Friend of God." Currents in Theology and Mission (1998).

    "From Domination to Mutuality in THE PIANO and the Gospel of Mark" with Sandra Roberts in Theology and Film. (Blackwells, 1997).

    "Reading the New Testament in an Environmental Age." Currents in Theology and Mission 24/3 (1997).

    "Mission in the Gospel of Mark" Currents in Theology and Mission (1995).

    "Network for Mission: The Social System of the Jesus Movement in the Gospel of Mark" in Rise and Decline of the Roman World,Part II: Principate 26.2 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995) 1692-1729.

    "The Syro-Phoenician Woman: A Narrative-Critical Study" Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1994).

    "Losing Life in the Face of Death: Mark's Standards of Judgment" Interpretation (1993).

    "The Zealots," The Anchor Bible Dictionary Doubleday. (1992).

    "...And With a Good Novel in the Other Hand: Why Pastors Should Read Literature" Word and World (1992).

    "Performing the Gospel of Mark" in Body and Bible ed by R. Krondorfer (Trinity Press International, 1992).

    "The Role of the Church in the Care of the Earth" Currents in Theology and Mission (1991).

    "Narrative Criticism of the Gospel of Mark" Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1982).

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