Question & Answer with New Theology Professor Sheree Lear

College of Church Leadership hires textual scholar after Professor Buzz Brookman retires and Professor Phil Mayo moves to missions

Picture of Sheree Lear, professor of Old Testament
Sheree Lear, professor of Old Testament, has lived in several countries around the world. She was a research fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, and she has published works in the study of sacred texts.

Sheree Lear is the newest addition to the school of Biblical and Theological studies, teaching on the Old Testament. She graduated from Central Bible College with a bachelor’s in Biblical languages. Her master’s in theological interpretation of Scripture and her doctorate in Biblical studies: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is from the first university in Scotland, the University of St. Andrews, which was founded in 1413. During her time at St. Andrews, she studied the techniques the ancient scribes used to read and write the Scriptures. She and her husband are both originally from west Africa but currently live in Minneapolis with their two children, Junia and Ari.

Why did you choose to teach at North Central?

“My husband and I had been living in the Pacific Northwest before this and I had begun working closely with people in the [Assemblies of God] and sought to reinstate my ministerial credentials with the [Assemblies of God]. It was where God was opening doors in ways [he] hadn’t… in a long time and [I thought] this feels right and going from there when this job opened. [I thought] ‘I can be someone who contributes to the denomination by being a professor at North Central.’ I care about the denomination as a whole and I hope that through my teaching good things come out of it. I can be a person of influence for good.”

What is your teaching style?

“Confrontational? I like dialogue in class. I don’t like to be up for a long time. On the other hand, I get going and I talk for a long time.”

What is a favorite memory from your college years?

“For my master’s and PhD, my favorite memory was just being able to study at a university that’s 600 years old and looks like Harry Potter’s castle; That’s pretty fantastic. And to realize that prefects aren’t … made up in the Harry Potter world, but it’s actually something that people do. And there are head tables and stuff like that. And then just being able to go to seminars with some of the top scholars in Europe and listen to their ideas was just such an amazing privilege.”

Who is your hero?

“Probably my dad. My dad is a missionary and the most driven, passionate-scary passionate person I know. And just, if he sets out to do it, he works himself until he does it. He valued higher education and got a doctor of ministry in his 50s. Which I just admire so much. For better or worse, my dad is the guy who said, ‘where is the hardest place? let’s go there. Let’s go where nobody else is going to go.’ So right now, they are the only [Assemblies of God] missionaries in Serbia since they can’t find anybody else that wants to go there.”

Where is the best place you have traveled?

“My favorite cities are Berlin, Germany and Edinburgh, Scotland. St. Andrews, [Scotland], is one of my favorite places in the world. Just Scotland in general, it’s magical. South Africa is a place I adore and … it’s just a really difficult place to live—but gorgeous. So much important history has happened there. And then I love Berlin. It’s just a great city to live. Some of my happiest memories are from there.”

What is your favorite thing about Minneapolis?

“It’s a beautiful city. It’s clean and it seems to be well thought-out, like they took aesthetics into consideration when they designed a lot of the downtown. And then the diversity, the access to cuisines from everywhere. And it’s like, legit cuisine. My husband and I wandered into Midtown the other day and we ended up in a section where there was no English. Anywhere. Everything was in Spanish. It was great. But we ordered the wrong thing because we don’t know any Spanish, but it was still good and I think that’s fantastic. I love being able to do that.”

What city do you live in?

“I live right here. I live in campus housing. It’s fantastic. I’m so grateful. It makes life so much easier because I have little kids, so my husband is watching them most of the time. And it’s really tiring, so I can run back and give him a break for a little bit.”

What is a hobby you enjoy outside of teaching and campus life?

“My family and I really love being outside. That’s something we’re missing being downtown. We love the downtown but at the same time we just moved from the Pacific Northwest and it’s just amazing beaches and forests and farmland everywhere and we can go berry picking and clam hunting. So, we like to do camping and hiking and anything—foraging, outside stuff, so we’ll have to see how we can incorporate that when the summer comes or maybe get into some winter sports.”

Who is your favorite music artist right now?

“There’s a song by Stu Larsen called ‘I Will Be Happy and Hopefully You Will Be Too’ which is one of my favorite songs for me and my husband. It talks about, ‘I want to move to South America, maybe Africa too, doesn’t matter where I go as long as I’m with you’—just because we’ve been moving so much lately. Both my husband and I like more folksy music, like bluegrass. Mumford and Sons-type stuff.”

What was your area of research for your highest degree?

“I looked specifically at literary techniques used by the ancient scribes, particularly at how the ancient authors of the Bible read Scripture. So we see throughout the Bible that the people who wrote the Bible were also reading other bits of the Bible and they would take little bits and put it into their own composition. So I was interested in their hermeneutic; how did they understand Scripture to work and how did they understand it to apply to their lives and how did they use it in their own compositions?”

How did you become interested in teaching this subject?

“I like it because it is so messy. We have nice Christianity and then we read the Old Testament and it’s really hard sometimes to fit those stories into our nice Christianity and I love that. I love struggling with what does this do to our faith and I love the Old Testament because of the beauty. You know, it was crafted by the literati of the ancient times, people who were sophisticated in how they wrote, and you can see that throughout the Bible. So, I love that.”

This interview was edited for space and clarity.