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Drew Theological School Professors Earn Named Titles

Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and Kenneth Ngwa recognized for their service to Drew

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Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre

January 2024 – Drew Theological School professors Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and Kenneth Ngwa have been appointed to distinguished named faculty positions in recognition of their service and dedication to Drew.

In December, Theological School Dean Edwin David Aponte announced that Provost Jessica Lakin appointed Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre as the Henry Anson Buttz Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and Kenneth Ngwa as the John Fletcher Hurst Professor of Hebrew Bible, effective immediately.

“This is a wonderful honor and fitting recognition of their exceptional accomplishments as teachers, scholars, and mentors,” said Lakin. “We are proud of the many contributions both Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre and Kenneth Ngwa have made to the Drew community.”

Johnson-DeBaufre joined the Theological School faculty in 2005, as a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, teaching courses on feminist, liberationist, and intercultural approaches to interpreting scripture, and the history and archaeology of the world of Judaism and early Christianity. A key leader in establishing the TheoTREC and prison education programs at the Theological School, Johnson-DeBaufre also served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs during the curriculum transformation and the Interim Dean of the Theological School where she successfully led the rapid and sustained response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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Kenneth Ngwa

She is the author of Jesus Among Her Children: Q, Eschatology, and the Construction of Christian Identity and Mary Magdalene Understood, with Jane Schaberg. Recently she was elected President of Feminist Studies in Religion, the umbrella organization that publishes The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, which is managed at Drew.

Johnson-DeBaufre earned her MDiv and ThD from Harvard Divinity School.

Ngwa, who arrived at the Theological School in 2007, was Professor of Hebrew Bible. He is also the Founder and Director of the Religion and Global Health Forum (RGHF) at Drew, which brings together theologians, scientists, activists, and healthcare professionals to educate, advocate, and strategize around wholistic health. A leader in Africana Biblical interpretation, Ngwa has recently been appointed to a faculty chair at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary beginning in fall 2024.

Ngwa is the author of the newly-published Let My People Live: An Africana Reading of Exodus and The Hermeneutics of the ‘Happy’ Ending in Job 42:7-17.

He earned his ThM and PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary. 

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