Ellen F. Davis

Ellen F. Davis

Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology in the Divinity School

External address: 
303 Old Divinity, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Duke Box 90967, Durham, NC 27708-0967
(919) 660-3561

Ellen F. Davis is Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University Divinity School in North Carolina.

The author of eight books and many articles, her research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their response to urgent public issues, particularly the environmental crisis and interfaith relations. Her most recent book, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge University Press, 2009), integrates biblical studies with a critique of industrial agriculture and food production.  Her other publications include Wondrous Depth: Old Testament Preaching (Westminster John Knox, 2005); Who Are You, My Daughter? Reading Ruth through Image and Text (Westminster John Knox, 2003), an annotated translation accompanying woodcuts by Margaret Adams Parker; Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament (Cowley, 2002); and The Art of Reading Scripture (Eerdmans, 2003), co-edited with Richard Hays.

She has long been involved in inter-religious dialogue and is now cooperating with the Episcopal Church of Sudan to develop theological education, community health, and sustainable agriculture.


  • Ph.D., Yale University 1987
  • M.Div., Church Divinity School of the Pacific 1983

Davis, E. F. “Prophecy and the Power of Life: Reading the Elijah Story Historically.” In The Bible: Culture, Community and Society, edited by N. Messer and A. Paddison, 47–63. T&T Clark, 2013.

Davis, E. F. “Singing for the Peace of Jerusalem: Songs of Zion in the Twenty-First Century.” In The Bible and Spirituality: Exploratory Essays in Reading Scripture Spiritually, edited by G. McConville, 75–94. Wipf & Stock/Cascade, 2013.

Davis, E. F. “The Bible in the Life of the Sudanese Church.” In Anglican Approaches to the Bible, edited by C. Amos. SCM/Cantebury Press, 2012.

Davis, E. F. “Commentary on Genesis 1.” In Science and Religion: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, edited by D. Marshall. Georgetown University Press, 2012.

Davis, E. F. “Biblical perspectives on divine justice and political authority.” In Justice and Rights: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, 15–20, 2009.

Davis, E. F. “Just Food: A Biblical Perspective on Culture and Agriculture.” In Living Beyond Our Means: Christian Perspectives on Environmental Unsustainability, edited by R. White, H. Marlow, and J. Moo, 122–36. SPCK, 2009.

Davis, E. F., M. Northcott, and R. J. Berry. “Reading the Bible after Darwin: Creation and a Culture of Restraint.” In Theology after Darwin, 57–72. Paternoster Press, 2009.

Davis, E. F. “Entering the story: teaching the Bible in the church.” In Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword, 44–62. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.

Davis, E. F. “No explanations in the church: two sermons on the prophets.” In Touching the Altar, 95–121. Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Pub, 2008.

Davis, E. F. “Speaking to the heart.” In Building a Better Bridge, 153–60. Washington, DC: Georgetown Univ Pr, 2008.


Davis, E. F. “Heart Language.” Duke Divinity Magazine, 2013.

Davis, E. F. “The Binding or Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19),”.” The Sbl Bible Odyssey Website and Their Electronic Newsletter, Teaching the Bible, 2013.

Davis, E. F. “Witnessing to god in the midst of life: Old testament preaching.” Expository Times 124, no. 1 (October 1, 2012): 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/0014524612453819. Full Text

Davis, E. F. “Dominion among the Non-Human Creatures (Gen. 1:1-2:4a).” The Sbl Bible Odyssey Website and Their Electronic Newsletter, Teaching the Bible, 2012.

Davis, E. F. “A Future of Hope.” Divinity, 2012, 14–17.

Davis, E. F. “Tikkun of the Fertile Soil.” Tikkun: A Bimonthly Critique of Politics, Culture & Society, 2011.

Davis, E. F. “A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use.” The Bible in Transmission, 2010, 5–7.

Ellen F Davis, D. A. “Our proper place.” The Christian Century 127, no. 12 (2010): 28.

Davis, Ellen F. “Surprised by Wisdom: Preaching Proverbs.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 63, no. 3 (July 2009): 264–77. https://doi.org/10.1177/002096430906300305. Full Text

Davis, E. F. “The agrarian perspective of the Bible: a response to James A. Nash, 'The Bible vs. biodiversity: the case against moral argument from scripture'.” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 3, no. 2 (June 1, 2009): 260–65.


Selected Grants

Justification, Dialogue and Healing awarded by Arthur Vining Davis Foundations (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2022

African Biblical Interpretaion course credit awarded by Issachar Fund (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

2017 Field Education Academic Year Student Pastors Program awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

2017 Field Education Summer Assistant Pastors Program awarded by Duke Endowment (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

Lambeth Palace Roundtable for the Episcopal Church of Sudan awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2009