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Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Professor Emerita



Dr. Jane D. Schaberg was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies in 1977, promoted to Associate Professor and tenured in 1982, and earned full Professor rank in 1988.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Manhattanville College (1960), a Master’s in Systematic Theology from Columbia University (1970), and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University (1980).

As a teacher, Dr. Schaberg is exemplary.  The Chair of the Department of Religious Studies in the nomination letter wrote “Dr. Schaberg has inspired, encouraged, enlightened and cajoled legions of our students since her arrival at the former University of Detroit in 1977.  She has always demanded much from students in terms of academic quality, but she has also been willing to work with them at whatever level of their capability in order to help them attain that quality.  For countless students in Religious Studies and in Women’s and Gender Studies she has served as a role model for academic honesty, self-respect and excellence.  She has helped many students develop talents and career prospects they had never known possible.  And, as so many of her student course evaluations attest, she has helped her students to see and understand both scriptural writings and their own roles in the world in new and challenging lights. Many former students who are now professors, pastors, and other professionals have told us that Jane Schaberg was the major inspiration for their scholarly lives.”

Another professor of Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies acknowledges in her nomination support letter that “It is no easy task to bring to students the academic knowledge, developed over a number of centuries, that addresses the time periods, authors, and cultural contexts contained in a text held sacred by many as the literal and timeless words of God and held in reverence by almost all.  It should not be surprising to us that the occasional students has rebelled against this knowledge.  What is remarkable is the extent to which Dr. Schaberg has succeeded in opening the minds of many, developing a cadre of students who continue to keep in contact with her through many years.  Dr. Schaberg’s creative teaching style encourages students not only to understand the text in its time, but to imagine themselves capable of writing a psalm or a parable, or poetry.” 

Dr. Schaberg is a feminist, so writes a former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Education.  She “offers critical, provocative, and typically deeply insightful interpretations of a wide range of important issues and topics in religion.  Her focus has been on such subject as Mary Magdalene, feminist interpretations of the New Testament, women in the biblical world, feminism and the church, and feminist interpretations of Christ.  Her writng is a “lightning rod” – the topics she addresses   are typically sensitive, controversial, yet highly significant.”  

As an accomplished author a support letter noted that “As a scholar, she holds an international reputation in her area of expertise in feminist biblical interpretation.  She has authored or edited six books and twenty-six articles or book chapters on this and related subjects, an amazing record of scholarship.  Most notable among these are her works on Mary Magdalene, including Mary Magdalene Understood (Continuum, 2006), The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament (Continuum, 2020), and Magdalene: The Magdalen History and Legend (Crossroad Press, 1994).  She is also well known for her controversial The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the New Testament Infancy Narratives (Harper and Row, 1987).”

“Professor Schaberg’s scholarship and teaching have generated some controversy, especially beyond the campus.  This is a result of her willingness to confront old ideas, to raise new possibilities, and to follow where the evidence leads, even at the cost of personal attacks to her reputation and danger to herself.  She has exhibited considerable courage in hewing to her conscience to her understanding of ancient texts.”

The nomination letter speaks to Dr. Schaberg’s contribution to service to the University, the community, and her profession.  The summary of her contributions reads “She has served her department, Religious Studies, as its chair for three different terms of office.  She has also served on (and co-chaired) the Women’s Studies Steering Committee and the Advisory Committee of the Master of Liberal Studies program.  She has also led multiple student study trips to Israel and served on a variety of academic and UDMPU committees.”  She has served on the Advisory Board for Weekend College, Liberal Arts Tenure and Promotion Committee, Graduate Program Committee, and Council of Chairs.

"She has also been very much involved in service in the Detroit and Windsor communities, offering countless public lectures and poetry presentations, coordinating the Windsor-Detroit Women’s Research Colloquium (1991-95), and serving as Executive Secretary of the Briggs Community Coalition of southwest Detroit (1984-1993).”

“Beyond the University and the Detroit area, Jane Schaberg is very well known and highly respected by those in her academic discipline because of the generosity of her service to her academic peers and the high quality of her scholarship.  She has provided literally decades of service within the American Academy of Religion / Society for Biblical Literature (AAR/SBL), the Catholic Biblical Association, and numerous other scholarly organizations.  In the largest and most prestigious organization for scholars in her field, the Society for Biblical Literature, she has provided years of leadership in the Women in Biblical World program unit (and chaired its Steering Committee for four years).  She has served as Associated Editor of the journal Continuum, as Guest Editor for Studies in Religion / Science Religieuses, and she continues to serve as Consulting Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.  She has provided consultation for the American Bible Society’s multi-media translation project, and she has been a judge for the Biblical Archaeology Society’s “Best Book Relating to the New Testament” award and Crossroad/Continuum Press’s annual prize for best book in Feminist Studies.  In addition to all that, she has mentored Ph.D. students, read Ph.D. dissertations and evaluated candidates for promotion and tenure from universities ranging from Columbia to Stanford, to the University of Madras.

Dr. Schaberg was honored with the University Distinguished Faculty Award in 2006 and the Women’s Studies Vagina Warrior Award in 2005.  In addition, she was honored by Manhattanville College in 2005 with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

Dr. Schaberg’s nomination for Professor Emerita was approved and conferred by Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D., President of University of Detroit Mercy on August 16, 2011.

University of Detroit Mercy

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