Dr. Valerie Stein
Professor of Religious Studies / Program Director, Ethics & Social Change / Program Director, Race & Ethnicity Studies
Olmsted Hall, Room 341
Social Justice; Religion and Culture, especially regarding social diversity
Valerie A. Stein has been at the University of Evansville since 2002. Dr. Stein earned her ThD in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Harvard University. In her teaching, Dr. Stein explores the intersection of religion, culture, and the Bible in the context of social diversity. She seeks to help her students develop intellectual empathy as a tool for critically engaging religion as a structural force that produces inequality. Her courses include Religion in America; Bible & Justice; Religion, Gender & Culture; Religious Ethics; Social Justice Movements; and Race & Religion. Dr. Stein’s primary research interest has centered around the history of biblical interpretation, particularly examining the ways in which the biblical text has functioned to marginalize or oppress certain groups. She has presented and published about the Bible’s use, its influence, and its impact around the issues of gender, Jewish-Christian relations, colonialism, and race. Stein’s book, Anti-cultic Theology in Christian Biblical Interpretation: A Study of Isaiah 66:1-4 and Its Reception grounded the discussion of Christian anti-Jewish interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in the analysis of a particular passage. She shows that the widely held Christian interpretation of Isaiah 66:1-4 as an indictment against the Jerusalem temple and cult - and thereby God’s rejection of Judaism - is motivated by a theology of substitution that sees the Church as the new Israel. Stein has also presented and published on how interpretations of biblical women reflect social attitudes and beliefs with respect to gender (see, for example, her articles “Know*Be*Do: Using the Bible to Teach Ethics to Children” and “Gender Components in Dramatic Retellings of Judith”). Her current research (see “Privileging God the Father: The Neoliberal Theology of the Evangelical Orphan Care Movement” in The Politics of Reproduction: Adoption, Abortion, and surrogacy in the Age of Neoliberalism) uses postcolonial and feminist methods of biblical criticism to show how evangelical Christian theology interprets the Bible to align the adoptive parents with God and thus effectively to allow for the dismissal of ethical concerns associated with adoption and foster care. In the case of international adoption, this “Gospel-centered” adoption takes advantage of Western privilege to victimize women in developing nations as a form of Christian neocolonialism. She problematizes the role of transracial adoption in the Evangelical orphan care movement as a visual evangelism.