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Nancy J. Duff

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nancy duff

Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Theological Ethics

Curriculum Vitae



Personal Data

Born:         Grew up in Tyler, Texas 

Married:   David C. Mertz, pastor, First United Methodist Church in Westfield, NJ


Ph.D.    (1988)   Union Theological Seminary in New York (Systematic Theology) 

M.Div.   (1977)  Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia

B.A.     (1973)   Austin College, Sherman, Texas (English major)


Denominational Affiliation

Ordained since 1977, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


Professional Experience 

1990-Present:  Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey:

Stephen Colwell Associate Prof. of Christian Ethics (2004-Present)

Associate Prof. of Christian Ethics (1992-2004)

Assistant Prof. of Christian Ethics (1990-92)

1985-90:          Assistant Prof. of Christian Ethics, Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, TX 

1977-79:          Associate Campus Minister, Austin College, Sherman, Texas


Courses Frequently Taught

Theology and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (M.Div. and Ph.D.)

Issues in Medical Ethics

Issues in Human Sexuality

Ethics of the Ten Commandments

Politics of Biblical Interpretation

Vocation in Christian Tradition and Contemporary Life

Theology and Ethics of James Cone

Shaping Christian Life: Doctrine, Worship, Ethics


Humanization and the Politics of God: the koinonia ethics of Paul Lehmann. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992.



"Praising God Online," Theology Today Vol. 70.1 (April 13, 2013).

"The Politics of Biblical Interpretation: Creationism vs. Evolution and Sunday Closing Laws." In Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible-Old Testament, edited by Stephen Chapman and Marvin Sweeney. (Publication of this book has been delayed.) 

“The Commandments and the Common Life: Reflections on Paul Lehmann’s The Decalogue and a Human Future. In Explorations in Christian Theology and Ethics: Essays in Conversation with Paul L. Lehmann, edited by Philip G. Ziegler and Michelle J. Bartel. Ashgate: 2009, 29-44.

"Karen Ann Quinlan, Tony Bland, and Terri Schiavo: Withdrawing Life Support from Patients in a Persistent Vegetative State," Dialogue, Fall 2006.

"Locating God in all the Wrong Places: the Second Commandment and American Politics," Interpretation: a Journal of Bible and Theology, April 2006, 182-193.

"Recovering Lamentation as a Practice in the Church." In Lament: Reclaiming Practices in Pulpit, Pew, and Public Square, edited by Sally A. Brown and Patrick D. Miller. Westminster John Knox, 2005, 3-14.

"Should the Ten Commandments Be Posted in the Public Realm? Why the Bible and the Constitution Say 'No.'" In The Ten Commandments: The Reciprocity of Faithfulness, edited by William Brown, Westminster John Knox, 2004, 159-170.

"Mary, the Servant of the Lord: Christian Vocation at the Manger and the Cross." In Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary, edited by Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Cynthia L. Rigby, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, 59-70.

 "Seeking the Significant in the Factual." In Beyond Human Cloning: Religion and the Remaking of Humanity, edited by  Ronald Cole-Turner, Trinity Press, 2001, 84-96.

  "Christian Vocation, Freedom of God, and Homosexuality." In Homosexuality, Science, and the "Plain Sense" of Scripture, David L. Balch, ed., Eerdmans, 2000, 261-277.

"Atonement and the Christian Life: Reformed Doctrine from a Feminist Perspective," Interpretation 53/1, January 1999, 21-33.

"Reformed Theology and Medical Ethics: Death, Vocation and the Suspension of Life-Support." In The Future of Reformed Theology: Tasks, Topics, Traditions, David Willis and Michael Welker, eds. William B. Eerdmans, 1999, 302-320.

"Reflections on Human Cloning," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin Vol. XVII, No. 2, 1997, 184-192. (Originally presented to the National Bioethics Advisory Committee.)

"Vocation, Motherhood, and Marriage," Women, Gender, and Christian Community, Jane Dempsey Douglass and James F. Kay, eds. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, 69-81.

"Paul Louis Lehmann..." Theology Today 53.3 (October, 1996): 360-369.

"How to Argue Moral Issues Surrounding Homosexuality When You Know You're Right." In Homosexuality and Christian Community. Edited by Leong Seow. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996, 144-159.

 "Introduction," to Paul L. Lehmann, The Decalogue and a Human Future: the Meaning of the Commandments for Making and Keeping Human Life Human, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995, 1-12.

"Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Theological Ethic," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, XV.3. 1994, 263-273. (Originally an address: Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, NJ.)

"The Significance of Apocalyptic for Theological Ethics." In Apocalyptic and the New Testament: A Feschrift for Prof. J. Louis Martyn, Sheffield Press, 1989, 279-296. [Subsequently incorporated into one of the chapters of Humanization and the Politics of God: the koinonia Ethics of Paul Lehmann.]


Brief Essays

"On the Complexities of Forgiveness," editorial co-authored with Gordon Mikoski, Theology Today, 69.4, January 2013.

"Reflections" [on Politics and Faith]. Insights: The Faculty Journal of Austin Seminary, Fall, 2004, 22-24.

"Christian Faith and American Patriotism," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, 2002, 59-63.

"The Church and the World of Genetic Research: Enemies or Partners in Conversation?" Princeton Seminary InSpire, 1997. (One-page position statement.)

"Infant Baptism and the Christian Family," Testament (A publication of Princeton Theological Seminary). Summer, 1991. (One page statement)

"A [sic] Messianic Banquet," Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought. Dec. 1990. (Submitted under the title, "The Messianic Banquet.")

"Preparing for Conversation [in Jewish-Christian Relations]," The Presbyterian Outlook, Vol.  171. September 4-11, 1989.

"Steven Colwell," American Presbyterians: Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 66. No. 4, Winter 1988, 254-259.


Sermons and Resources for Preaching

"The Second Great Commandment [Matthew 22:39-40]" Journal For Preachers, Vol. 34, 4: Pentecost 2011, 18-23.

"Theological Themes," Lectionary Homiletics. (October 1996).

 "Between Text and Sermon (Luke 15:11-32)," Interpretation, Vol. XLIX.No.1 (January, 1995), 66-69.

 "Such a Time as This," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XIII, No. 2, 1992, 196-198. (Sermon)

"Wise and Foolish Maidens," Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Vol. 40/3, 1985, 55-58. (Sermon)


Dictionary and Newspaper Entries

"Ethics," Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (EBR) in 30 volumes. Edited by Hans-Josef Klauck,  Bernard McGinn, Choon-Leong Seow, Hermann Spieckermann, Barry Dov Walfish, and Eric J. Ziolkowski. Walter De Gruyter Inc.

"Alcohol," "Just Wage," and "Singleness," in Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics.  Edited by Joel B. Green. Baker Publishing Group, 2011, 52-53, 445, and 733-34.

 "Clone with Caution," The Washington Post, Sun., March 2, 1997, Section C, p.1, 1998.

"Call/Vocation" and "Mothers/Motherhood," in Dictionary of Feminist Theologies. Edited by Letty M. Russell and J. Shannon Clarkson. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, 34-35 and 186-188.

"Paul Lehmann," in Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith. Edited by Donald K. McKim. Westminster John Knox Press, 1992.


Online Commentaries

The Thoughtful Christian: Faithful Living in a Complex World (An Online Resource Center associated with Westminster John Knox Press):

"The Avian Flu"

"ProChoice and ProLife: Any Common Ground?"

"End of Life Issues: The Terri Schiavo Case"

"Preparing for the End of Life: Living Wills"

"Same Gender Marriage"

"Should the Ten Commandments Be Posted in the Public Realm?"

"Commentary: Abu Graib Prison Abuse Scandal," in Religion and Ethics News Weekly, May 14, 2004, Episode no. 737. 


Book Reviews and Notes

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, Volume 8  (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

Martin E. Marty, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Letters and Papers from Prison": A Biography, Lives of Great Religious Books Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

John W. Matthews, Bonhoeffer: A Brief Overview of the Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) Theology for Life Series (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2011), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

Kenneth G. Appold, The Reformation: a Brief History (West Sussix: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Theology Today Vol. 69.3, October 2012.

Gordon Graham, Theories of Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with a Selection of Classic Readings (New York and London: Routledge, 2011), Theology Today Vol. 69.3, October 2012.

Luke Powery, Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in Preaching (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009) Theology Today Vol. 69.3, October 2012.

Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics edited by Joel B. Green, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Rebecca Miles, and Allen Verhey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), Theology Today Vol. 69.3, October 2012.

The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology by Ian A. McFarland, David A. S. Fergusson, Karen Kilby, and Iain R. Torrance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Theology Today Vol. 69.3, October 2012.

Stanley Hauerwas, War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity (Baker Academic, October 2011), The Expository Times, March 2013; vol. 124, 6: pp. 310-311.

Allen Verhey,The Christian Art of Dying Well: Learning from Jesus (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2011), Theology Today, Vol. 69.2, 2012, 240-242.

David Bentley Hart, The Doors to the Sea:Where Was God in the Tsunami? (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Paperback, 2011), Theology Today, Vol. 68.3, 2011, 351-52.

Jonathan Weiner, Long For This World: The Strange Science of Immortality (HarperCollins, New York, 2010), Theology Today, Vol. 68.2, 2011, 203-204.

Christopher Morse, The Difference Heaven Makes: Rehearing the Gospel as News (T&T Clark, New York, 2010), Theology Today 68.1, 2011, 75-79.

Ester D. Reed, The Ethics of Human Rights: Contested Doctrinal and Moral Issues by (Baylor University Press, Waco, 2007), Studies in Christian Ethics 23.4, 2010, 468-72.

Marva J. Dawn, Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy (Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1993), Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 1995, 118-19. 

John H. Leith, From Generation to Generation; The Renewal of The Church According to Its Own Theology and Practices (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1990), Interpretation, April, 1991.

John F. Kilner, Who Lives? Who Dies? Ethical Criteria in Patient Selection (Yale University Press, 1990) in Theology Today, Vol. 48.1, April, 1991.

Eugene B. Borowitz, Contemporary Christologies: A Jewish Response (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), Union Seminary Quarterly Review, vol. 38.2, 1983.


Public Interviews and Panel Discussions

 "God and Country: Protecting the Integrity of the Christian Faith." Church/State Issues Symposium sponsored by Americans United for Separation of Church and Sate, Bucks Country Chapter, September 26, 2009. Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA.

Radio interview regarding "The Ten Commandments," Odyssey: A Daily Talk Show of Ideas, NPR Chicago, July 6, 2005.

Radio interview regarding "Terri Schiavo," Interfaith Connections, WKTU New York, May 1, 2005.

TV interview: "Commentary Re: Terri Schiavo," MSNBC, Friday, March 25, 2005.

Panel Discussion regarding stem cell research for Patients' CURE, Washington, D.C., 1998.

Panel Discussion: On Cloning for Stem Cell Research, Subcommittee of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Prof. James Childress, chair, 1997.

Panel Discussion: On Human Cloning in light of the cloning of Dolly, National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Prof. Harold Shapiro, chair, 1996.