Shanell T. Smith | Hartford Seminary

Shanell T. Smith

Associate Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins
Director, Cooperative Master of Divinity Program


  • Ph.D. (The Theological School, Drew University)
  • Master of Divinity (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Rutgers – the State University of New Jersey)

Areas of Study

  • Feminist and Womanist Biblical Interpretation
  • Gender and Sexuality in the New Testament
  • Intersections of Postcolonial, African American, and New Testament Studies


Becoming a professor was never a dream of mine. I didn’t have visions of me standing before a class, getting “high” off higher education as I watched the intellectual atmosphere get saturated with fresh thoughts and new insights. I never fantasized about waking up in the middle of the night to write an intriguing question or idea before it slipped away. I would have never guessed that being a New Testament Studies and Early Christianity scholar would be part of my self-description. Yet as I reflect upon these notions (and how they’ve all come to pass) and the fact that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, I begin to realize that although this path may not have started as a dream, it is undoubtedly a calling.

As an African American woman, I find that I am uniquely positioned to bring new perspectives, and more importantly, new questions to critical New Testament study, beyond traditional, feminist, and African American (male) hermeneutical inquiry. As an African American woman, however, my marginal status is tempered by remembering my place of privilege in comparison to my Third World sister-scholars, and those in these United States without access to scholarship.

I remain dedicated to creating and maintaining a safe space for intellectual dialogue, critique, and analysis in the classroom, enhancing the status of women in the profession, mentoring students by helping them recognize, embrace, and capitalize on their potential, and publishing works that will further New Testament scholarship by inciting others to engage.


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