Dr. Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford
Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages
Director of the Masters of Theological Studies degree program
“I have had the privilege of teaching at the McAfee School of Theology for the past 22 years and have delighted in the shared quest for theological understanding that I have undertaken with so many students. The development of the Masters of Theological Studies degree is the outcome of many years of planning by the McAfee faculty, and I look forward to ensuring that those students who pursue the MTS degree receive the best possible preparation for the future, whether that future be further graduate studies or service in the religious, academic, or non-profit sector.”
Dr. deClaissé-Walford came to McAfee from George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, where she was a lecturer in biblical languages. She earned a bachelor’s degree in ancient history from California State University in Northridge, California; a master’s degree in Semitic languages and literature from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California; and a doctor of philosophy in Old Testament from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Dr. deClaissé-Walford is the author of Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter; Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Textbook; The Book of Psalms: A Song from Ancient Israel; The Book of Psalms: The International Commentary on the Old Testament; The Shape and Shaping of the Book of Psalms: The Current State of Scholarship; and The Wisdom Commentary: Psalms, Books 4 and 5 (forthcoming).
Book chapters and journal articles authored by her are numerous, including “The Importance of Place in Book Five of the Psalter;” “Psalm 44: O God, Why Do You Hide Your Face?;” “Both Sides Now: A Feminist Reading of the Enthronement Psalms;” “Finding the Feminine in the Psalter: Psalms 90, 91, and 92 As a Test Case;” “The Theology of the Imprecatory Psalms;” “Genesis 2: It Is Not Good for the Human to Be Alone;” and “Genesis 11: God Came Down and God Scattered: Acts of Punishment or Acts of Grace?”
Dr. deClaissé-Walford is the Old Testament editor for the Word Biblical Commentary Series. A member of the editorial board of the journal Review & Expositor for over 20 years, she has served as the journal’s associate editor, managing editor, and book review editor. As an active member of the steering committee of the Book of Psalms section of the Society of Biblical Literature, she, along with her psalm colleagues, is instrumental in steering the future of psalm studies in the United States and abroad. In addition, she was recently named a research associate with the Old Testament Department of the University of Pretoria in South Africa, further strengthening the ties between psalm scholarship in the United States with that undertaken abroad and affording better collegial undertakings between students and scholars in both countries.
Dr. deClaissé-Walford enjoys speaking with students about vocation. She believes God instills in each of us a drive, a motivation, that will not let go of us — a passion. And she maintains that our God-given call is to “follow our passion.” She discovered her passion 30 years ago in a classroom at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California — the Hebrew language. She went on to study advanced Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Syriac, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, and various northwest Semitic languages. She states: “There is an old adage: ‘Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.’ While the saying contains much truth, a greater truth lies in the saying ‘follow your passion.’ Passion is that deep-seated feeling within one that says, ‘I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life.’ Passion, though, usually involves hard work, so ‘passion’ and ‘work’ are not mutually exclusive, as the old adage suggests. But I have discovered over the years that the ‘work’ involved in pursuing my ‘passion’ has taken me on an amazing journey.”
One of Dr. deClaissé-Walford’s joys and tremendous responsibilities of teaching seminary students is the immediacy of every teaching moment. Seminary students are practitioners who are likely to take what she says in the classroom today and teach it in a Bible study tonight, a lesson on Sunday, or incorporate it into a sermon. She takes great care when she prepare lectures, designs discussions, or prepares to debrief a reading assignment, to consider how her students will use the course content in their various ministry settings.
Dr. deClaissé-Walford is married and has two children, one grandson, and two dogs. She and her husband, Steve, whom she met at Fuller Theological Seminary, are avid gardeners. They grow figs, grapes, blackberries, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, kale, collard greens, and various other vegetables, depending on the season. Fig, grape, and blackberry jams; dill pickles; chutneys; and various other canning projects are regular features of summer fun at the deClaissé-Walford house.
In addition, the deClaissé-Walfords spend time on their family farm in southern Indiana, a 100-acre homestead first occupied by Nancy’s great-grandfather. It is still a working farm with an annual crop production of corn, wheat, and soybeans. Dr. deClaissé-Walford states, “The farm is my ‘firm grounding,’ the place I have called ‘home’ since childhood and the place to which I return again and again. I compare the farm in some ways with the land promised by God to our Israelite ancestors in the faith. Land, a place to call home, a place from which one comes and to which one belongs, is vital, I think, to our well-being. A sense of groundedness in our highly mobile world is a key to life.”
When not at home or on the farm, you will find Dr. deClaissé-Walford and her husband in their motorhome, touring the United States. During the past five years, they have visited some 20 states, and their bucket list is to do all 20 (well, maybe not Hawaii!).
Dr. deClaissé-Walford’s current research project is a broadly feminist commentary on The Psalter: Books Four and Five (Psalms 90-150) for Liturgical Press. She writes, “The commentary addresses issues of concern to women, but not necessarily women, including: feminine images of God, how women read and interpret the biblical text, earth care, inequalities of power, human trafficking, access to food and clean water, poverty, and so forth. A unique component of the commentary series is that I am to write 75% of the commentary and, in the other 25%, incorporate the reflective voices of those who would not normally be included in an academic commentary. Thus, since the words of the psalms are the words of all people to God, I chose to incorporate the words of ‘all people’ into my commentary volume. Thanks to a generous grant from the Louisville Institute, I was able to travel to South Africa in the Spring of 2018 and enlist some 25 voices to reflect on the words of the Psalter. I enlisted mostly first-generation college students, women and men, some born before the end of apartheid, some after its end; but other contributors to the commentary include a professor, a librarian, a number of administrators at various universities, and two pastors from Soweto.”
- Ph.D., Old Testament, Baylor University, 1995
- M.A., Semitic Languages and Literature, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1985
- B.A., Ancient History, California State University, 1976