The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, Ph.D.

Professor of Old Testament

The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, Ph.D., is Professor of Old Testament. Her fields of expertise include Hebrew Bible, dialogic interpretation, religious studies, Afro-American studies, and literary criticism.

  • M.A., M.Phil, M.Div., Ph.D., Yale University
  • A.B., Princeton University

The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams’ doctoral dissertation entitled, “What Has Happened to the Son of Kish? A Dialogic Reading of Saul in I Samuel” reflects her interest in a literary approach that celebrates the multiple voices and inter-textuality of scripture. With a passion for an equipped and informed laity, Dr. Fentress-Williams lives at the intersection of the church and the academy. In addition to her teaching position at VTS, she serves as Senior Assistant to the Pastor for Preaching and Teaching at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. In this role, she teaches night Bible study, Senior Bible Study, Christian Life Institute, Ministers in Training, and serves as a retreat facilitator.

A member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Postcolonial Biblical Studies Committee, Dr. Fentress-Williams is an active participant in the Bakhtin and Biblical Studies Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Office of Religious Life at Princeton University.

In addition to her active bi-vocational ministry, Dr. Fentress-Williams is also a prolific scholar. Her published essays include “The Bible in Dialogue” in September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences, “Location, Location, Location: Tamar in the Joseph Cycle” in Bakhtin and Genre, and “Exodus” in Biblia Africana. She recently published a commentary on the book of Ruth for the Abingdon Old Testament Commentary Series.

During her academic career, she has received many awards and honors, including the Distinguished Alumni Award for excellence in Theological Education, Yale Divinity School (2016), Wabash Fellow for Teaching and Learning (2001-2002), Dissertation Fellowship, Yale University (1993-1994), Henry Axelrod Fellowship (1992-1993), Graduate Fellow, Yale University (1990-1994), Dwight Fellowship for Graduate Study (1990), Black Graduate Scholar, Fund for Theological Education (1990-1993), the John A. Wade Prize for great originality in expository preaching (1989), and Benjamin E. Mays Fellow, Fund for Theological Education (1988-1990).

Prior to joining the faculty at VTS in 2002, Dr. Fentress-Williams was a member of the faculty of Hartford Seminary from 1994-2002, as Professor of Hebrew Bible. She was also the director of the Black Ministries Program, a certificate program designed to meet the needs of African-American clergy and laity in the greater Hartford area. Dr. Fentress-Williams was ordained as a Minister of the Gospel in the National Baptist Convention and Progressive National Baptist Convention in October 2012.

She is married to Kevin Williams, M.D., and they have two children, Samantha and Jacob.