Kathryn M. Schifferdecker
Assoc Prof, Old Testament

"My aim in teaching is to spark people's theological imaginations as they read and interpret Scripture-to help open up Scripture to them so that they become engaged and passionate about and excited about these ancient documents that are God's word to us," Schifferdecker says. "Mostly I want them to love Scripture and to understand and use it as a resource for ministry and as a resource for building up the body of Christ."

For Kathryn Schifferdecker, teaching Old Testament to seminary students fulfills a twofold call to ministry.

"It really combines my passions for parish ministry and for teaching Bible," she says. "I love teaching Bible. I love teaching people who are preparing for ministry in the church, who are discerning their own calls."

Since joining the Luther Seminary faculty in 2006, fresh from five years as a parish pastor in central Wisconsin, Schifferdecker has made a conscious effort to teach the relevance of each scriptural text-whether from the Pentateuch, the Psalms or the book of Job-for use in parish ministry. At the same time, she helps students to make a more personal connection with the Old Testament.

"My aim in teaching is to spark people's theological imaginations as they read and interpret Scripture-to help open up Scripture to them so that they become engaged and passionate about and excited about these ancient documents that are God's word to us," Schifferdecker says. "Mostly I want them to love Scripture and to understand and use it as a resource for ministry and as a resource for building up the body of Christ."

Many people in today's church don't understand what relevance the Old Testament has for their lives, she says. But the Old Testament is essential in telling us who God is-a God of justice and mercy who wants to be in relationship with God's people-and it gives us a history and foundation for knowing who we are as a part of the people of God, grafted into the olive tree of Israel, as Paul puts it.

A native of Missouri raised in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Schifferdecker was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2001. She holds an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and a Th.D. from Harvard Divinity School. Schifferdecker wrote her dissertation on creation theology in the book of Job, and she continues to be interested in the topic of creation.

"A primary interest of mine is that question of 'What is our relationship with the rest of creation, and how do we live that out as a people created in the image of God and called to be stewards of God's creation?'" Schifferdecker says. "That's obviously a very important thing to talk about these days, and there are lots of resources in biblical texts, particularly in the Old Testament, for talking about it."