Vivian Johnson

Professor of Old Testament
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Teaching and Research
Vivian’s teaching and research interests include Biblical Hebrew, literary interpretations of biblical stories, especially those pertaining to women, ancient Near Eastern cultures, and the history of interpretation of David. Her current project seeks to uncover positive interpretations of Job’s wife by connecting her to the Wise Women of ancient Israel.
B.A., Wesleyan University

M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School

Ph.D., Harvard University (2005)

Book(s):David in Distress: His Portrait through the Historical Psalms (London: T & T Clark International), 2009.

This book analyzes the thirteen historical psalms (3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63, 142) in the Psalter that refer to crucial moments in King David’s life as recorded in the Samuel narrative (1 Sam 16 – 1 Kings 2). Because most Psalms research focuses on the original setting, the so-called Sitz-im-Leben, of these late additions to the book of Psalms, they have received little attention.

Using a text-based analysis, Johnson has found that these historical psalms focus on episodes of King David’s life in which he experienced trouble. For example, Psalm 3 refers to the coup started by his son Absalom, Psalm 59 refers to the evening when Saul tried to kill David, and Pslam 57 refers to David’s days as a fugitive fleeing from Saul. By highlighting situations of David during his times of distress, these historical psalms tend to recast him as a man who prayed to his God in every moment of difficulty. This recasting of David adds to the various portraits representations of David found in biblical narrative.

Article(s): “The Letter of Jeremiah,” in Biblia Africana (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2009.

Personal Life
Vivian enjoys physical fitness activities, including weight lifting and Spinning.

She is lay member of United Methodist church.