Announcing the Retirement and Honoring of Dr. Mary A. Tolbert

April 12, 2013

After almost twenty years at PSR, former Dean and founding Executive Director of the Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) Dr. Mary A. Tolbert is retiring.

Please join us to celebrate on Monday, May 13 in the Badè Museum from 4:45 - 6:15. Tributes will begin around 5:10.


Mary A. Tolbert has been the George H. Atkinson Professor of Biblical Studies at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California since 1994. In the Fall of 2000, she became the Founding Executive Director of PSR’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry. From 2009-2011, Professor Tolbert was Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean.

Professor Tolbert received the B.A. in Religion (with honors) from Wake Forest University in 1969, the M.A. in English Literature from the University of Virginia in 1971, and the M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the University of Chicago in 1974 and 1977, respectively. Her doctoral dissertation in literary criticism and the Bible was published under the title Perspectives on the Parables (Fortress, 1979).

Professor Tolbert has published many articles on feminism and the Bible and was editor of Semeia 28, “The Bible and Feminist Hermeneutics.”  Her writings on the gospel of Mark, including the comprehensive study Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective (Fortress, 1989), have established her as an expert on the literary, rhetorical, and historical dimensions of the gospel of Mark. Her groundbreaking work from 1995 to 1998 on the three-volume project on social location and Biblical interpretation with co-editor Fernando Segovia marked the beginning of a new area of research on factors of social location in biblical studies globally. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and is currently teaching and writing on lesbian and gay liberation, queer theory and the ethics of reading the Bible in the 21st century.

A popular lecturer and teacher, Professor Tolbert was named in 1993 the Peabody College of Education Educator’s “Roundtable” Honoree for Teaching Excellence. Since joining the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union, she has served as Convener (Chair) of the Biblical Studies Area. Over her academic career, besides advising hundreds of ministerial students, she has directed the doctoral work of over twenty New Testament scholars.

(This adapted biographical statement provided by The LGBT Religious Archives Network (LGBT-RAN) www.lgbtran.org.)