Dr. Edith M. Humphrey is the William F. Orr Professor Emerita of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, retiring in 2021. Prior to her service at PTS, she taught at several colleges and universities in Canada, and was professor of Scripture at Augustine College, Ottawa, Canada, from 1997-2002, where in her final year she served as dean. She earned her bachelor’s (with honors) from Victoria University (University of Toronto) and received her doctorate from McGill University, Montreal, where she was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal. The author of numerous articles on the literary and rhetorical study of the Bible, she has also written seven books: Further Up and Further In: Orthodox Conversations with C. S. Lewis on Scripture and Theology (St. Vladimir’s Press, 2017), Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says (Baker Academic, 2013); Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven (Brazos, 2010); And I Turned to See the Voice: The Rhetoric of Vision in the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2007); Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit (Eerdmans, 2005); the Sheffield Guide to Joseph and Aseneth (Continuum/Sheffield, 2000); and The Ladies and the Cities: Transformation and Apocalyptic Identity in Joseph and Aseneth, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse and The Shepherd of Hermas (Sheffield, 1995).
In her popular writing she has addressed such subjects as the Jesus Seminar, the Trinity, sexuality and the human person, music and theology, the authority of Scripture within the Great Tradition, and Christian spirituality. Humphrey is a also co-author, along with other members of the Primate’s Theological Commission (Anglican Church of Canada), of a series of theological workbooks for congregational use, titled Wrestling with God. She is currently working on two research projects: Mediation and The Immediate God and the reading of the Church fathers on justification language in St. Paul’s letters. An active member of the Orthodox Church (attending St. George’s Antiochian Church, Oakland), she retains strong ties with friends in various denominations, and is a well-known as a popular speaker at church retreats, ecumenical conferences, and seminary events. An accomplished musician who was the musical director and organist at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ottawa, she now helps with her parish choir and plays oboe in the North Pittsburgh Symphonic Band. She and her husband, Chris, have three grown daughters and 21 grandchildren.
Edith Humphrey’s current and former students, as well as many others, will be eager to read the major product of her latest sabbatical work: a soon-to-be-published manuscript on the difficult books of C. S. Lewis. “My project looks at how Lewis’s more challenging works clarify some of the most theologically difficult biblical texts and teachings of Christianity,” Edith notes.
Keying off and amplifying the material she discusses in her PTS course The Bible and C. S. Lewis, Edith demonstrates that Lewis does not shy away from the “dark edges” inherent in biblical themes such as substitutionary atonement and Christ as victor over the powers of evil. “Some of these teachings have fallen out of vogue in the Western church today,” says Edith, “but Lewis deals with them head-on in a number of his books—for example, Till We Have Faces and The Great Divorce.” And as a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church (and secretary of the Orthodox Theological Society in America), Edith finds that the Orthodox tradition speaks to these difficult themes in a way that has gone largely undiscovered.
“While I’ve written my manuscript with a didactic purpose, I don’t want to detract from the delight of reading Lewis’s books!” Edith insists. “He wrote for sheer pleasure, and we should read his books with the same enjoyment—for the glory they evoke in us. What I am seeking to do through my book is to encourage readers of Lewis’s simpler works to try reading his more challenging books as well.”
For Edith, those books include Pilgrim’s Regress, The Abolition of Man, That Hideous Strength, Miracles, and even The Magician’s Nephew and The Silver Chair, in addition to the two mentioned above. “I want people to appreciate and enjoy these books, and also to understand them,” Edith adds. Toward that end, she keys their themes to theologians and scholars such as Sts. Athanasius and John Chrysostom, Von Balthasar and Schmemann, in chapters such as “Thinking Carefully and Acting Ethically,” “Depravity and Possession,” “Miracles and Magic,” and “Death and Life, Heaven and Hell: Blessings and Curses Revisited.”
Edith is also working toward her next book project—one on reading Paul’s doctrine of justification and atonement through the eyes of St. John Chrysostom and other key Church Fathers. “I plan to write this book for an Orthodox audience, which considers the doctrine of justification to be a product of the Western church. By examining the writings of theologians and thinkers ‘closer’ to the Orthodox tradition, I want to encourage the Eastern Church to recapture and reclaim these themes as they appear in their own tradition, prior to the debates of the Reformation.”
The Ladies and the Cities: Transformation and Apocalyptic Identity in Joseph and Aseneth, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse and The Shepherd of Hermas (paperback edition; Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018)
Further Up and Further In: Orthodox Conversations with C. S. Lewis on Scripture and Theology (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2017)
Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says (Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology, 2013)
Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as In Heaven (Brazos, 2011)
And I Turned to See the Voice: The Rhetoric of Vision in the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2007)
Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit (Eerdmans, 2005)
(Guide to) Joseph and Aseneth, Guide to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha 8 (Sheffield Academic Press, 2000)
The Ladies and the Cities: Transformation and Apocalyptic Identity in Joseph and Aseneth, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse and The Shepherd of Hermas, JSOT Supp 18 (1995)