The Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Duff

Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA)
Organization: Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ

Nancy J. Duff, the Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary, earned her M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia and her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. An ordained Presbyterian minister, she focuses her research on the theological foundations of Christian ethics. Writing from the Reformed tradition and informed by both Pauline apocalyptic and feminist concerns, she explores how theological claims identify the church's responsibility in the world. She teaches courses in the theology and ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theology and ethics of James Cone, issues in biomedical ethics, issues in human sexuality, the doctrine of vocation, and the ethics of the Ten Commandments.



  • Ph.D. (1988) Union Theological Seminary in New York (Systematic Theology)
  • M.Div. (1977) Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia
  • B.A. (1973) Austin College, Sherman, Texas (English major)

Denominational Affiliation

  • Ordained 1977, Presbyterian Church U.S. (Now, Presbyterian Church USA)

Professional Experience 

  • 1990-Present: Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey:

Stephen Colwell Associate Prof. of Christian Ethics (2004-Present)

Associate Prof. of Christian Ethics (1992-2004)

Assistant Prof. of Christian Ethics (1990-92)

  • 1985-90:Assistant Prof. of Christian Ethics, Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, TX
  • 1977-79: Associate Campus Minister, Austin College, Sherman, Texas

Courses Frequently Taught

  • Theology and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (M.Div. and Ph.D.)
  • The Ethics of Resisting and Accepting Death
  • Issues in Medical Ethics
  • Issues in Human Sexuality
  • Ethics of the Ten Commandments
  • Politics of Biblical Interpretation
  • Vocation in Christian Tradition and Contemporary Life
  • Liturgical Shape of the Christian Life
  • Theology and Ethics of James Cone

Additional Service

  • Chair, Theology Department, Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Chair, Duodecim Theological Society
  • Reviews Editor, Theology Today
  • Co-editor with Phillip Zeigler, Theology Today 71.1, special issue on Bonhoeffer
  • Member, Advisory Board for the Barth Center, Princeton Theological Seminary
  • Ethicist and Recording Secretary, Ethics Committee for University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro


  • Presently working on an introductory text: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Life Together.
  • Presently working on a collection of essays by Paul Lehmann (with Ry Siggelkow)
  • Humanization and the Politics of God: the koinoniaethics of Paul Lehmann.Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992.


  • "The Strange Worlds of Apocalyptic, Christian Ethics, and Princeton Theological Seminary," Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 2015.

  • "Praising God Online," Theology TodayVol. 70.1 (April 13, 2013).

  • "The Politics of Biblical Interpretation: Creationism vs. Evolution and Sunday Closing Laws." In Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible-Old Testament, edited by Stephen Chapman and Marvin Sweeney. (Publication of this book has been delayed.)

  • "The Commandments and the Common Life: Reflections on Paul Lehmann's The Decalogue and a Human Future. In Explorations in Christian Theology and Ethics: Essays in Conversation with Paul L. Lehmann, edited by Philip G. Ziegler and Michelle J. Bartel. Ashgate: 2009, 29-44.

  • "Karen Ann Quinlan, Tony Bland, and Terri Schiavo: Withdrawing Life Support from Patients in a Persistent Vegetative State," Dialogue, Fall 2006.

  • "Locating God in all the Wrong Places: the Second Commandment and American Politics," Interpretation: a Journal of Bible and Theology,April 2006, 182-193.

  • "Recovering Lamentation as a Practice in the Church." In Lament: Reclaiming Practices in Pulpit, Pew, and Public Square, edited by Sally A. Brown and Patrick D. Miller. Westminster John Knox, 2005, 3-14.

  • "Should the Ten Commandments Be Posted in the Public Realm? Why the Bible and the Constitution Say 'No.'" In The Ten Commandments: The Reciprocity of Faithfulness, edited by William Brown, Westminster John Knox, 2004, 159-170.

  • "Mary, the Servant of the Lord: Christian Vocation at the Manger and the Cross." In Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary, edited by Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Cynthia L. Rigby, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, 59-70.

  • "Seeking the Significant in the Factual." In Beyond Human Cloning: Religion and the Remaking of Humanity, edited by Ronald Cole-Turner, Trinity Press, 2001, 84-96.

  • "Christian Vocation, Freedom of God, and Homosexuality." In Homosexuality, Science, and the "Plain Sense" of Scripture,David L. Balch, ed., Eerdmans, 2000, 261-277.

  • "Atonement and the Christian Life: Reformed Doctrine from a Feminist Perspective," Interpretation 53/1, January 1999, 21-33.

  • "Reformed Theology and Medical Ethics: Death, Vocation and the Suspension of Life-Support." In The Future of Reformed Theology: Tasks, Topics, Traditions,David Willis and Michael Welker, eds. William B. Eerdmans, 1999, 302-320.

  • "Reflections on Human Cloning," The Princeton Seminary BulletinVol. XVII, No. 2, 1997, 184-192. (Originally presented to the National Bioethics Advisory Committee.)

  • "Vocation, Motherhood, and Marriage," Women, Gender, and Christian Community,Jane Dempsey Douglass and James F. Kay, eds. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, 69-81.

  • "Paul Louis Lehmann..." Theology Today 53.3 (October, 1996): 360-369.

  • "How to Argue Moral Issues Surrounding Homosexuality When You Know You're Right." In Homosexuality and Christian Community.Edited by Leong Seow. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996, 144-159.

  • "Introduction," to Paul L. Lehmann, The Decalogue and a Human Future: the Meaning of the Commandments for Making and Keeping Human Life Human, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995, 1-12.

  • "Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Theological Ethic," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin,XV.3. 1994, 263-273. (Originally an address: Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, NJ.)

  • "The Significance of Apocalyptic for Theological Ethics." In Apocalyptic and the New Testament: A Feschrift for Prof. J. Louis Martyn, Sheffield Press, 1989, 279-296. [Subsequently incorporated into one of the chapters of Humanization and the Politics of God: the koinoniaEthics of Paul Lehmann.]

Brief Essays

  • "Editorial: Remembering World War II," Theology Today 72.1, April 2015, 5-10.
  • Editorial: Stages on the Road to Freedom: a Brief Introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer,"Theology Today 71.1, April 2014.
  • "Editorial: On the Complexities of Forgiveness," co-authored with Gordon Mikoski, Theology Today, 69.4, January 2013.
  • "Reflections" [on Politics and Faith]. Insights: The Faculty Journal of Austin Seminary,Fall 2004, 22-24.
  • "Christian Faith and American Patriotism," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, 2002, 59-63.
  • "The Church and the World of Genetic Research: Enemies or Partners in Conversation?" Princeton Seminary InSpire, 1997. (One-page position statement.)
  • "Infant Baptism and the Christian Family," Testament(A publication of Princeton Theological Seminary). Summer, 1991. (One page statement)
  • "A [sic] Messianic Banquet," Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought.Dec. 1990. (Submitted under the title, "The Messianic Banquet.")
  • "Preparing for Conversation [in Jewish-Christian Relations]," The Presbyterian Outlook,Vol. 171. September 4-11, 1989.
  • "Steven Colwell," American Presbyterians: Journal of Presbyterian History. Vol. 66. No. 4, Winter 1988, 254-259.

Sermons and Resources for Preaching

  • "The Second Great Commandment [Matthew 22:39-40]" Journal For Preachers, Vol. 34, 4: Pentecost 2011, 18-23.
  • "Theological Themes," Lectionary Homiletics.(October 1996).
  • "Between Text and Sermon (Luke 15:11-32)," Interpretation, Vol. XLIX.No.1 (January, 1995), 66-69.
  • "Such a Time as This," The Princeton Seminary Bulletin,Vol. XIII, No. 2, 1992, 196-198. (Sermon)
  • "Wise and Foolish Maidens," Union Seminary Quarterly Review,Vol. 40/3, 1985, 55-58. (Sermon)


Dictionary and Newspaper Entries

  • "Ethics," Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (EBR) in 30 volumes.Edited by Hans-Josef Klauck, Bernard McGinn, Choon-Leong Seow, Hermann Spieckermann, Barry Dov Walfish, and Eric J. Ziolkowski. Walter De Gruyter Inc.
  • "Alcohol," "Just Wage," and "Singleness," in Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics.Edited by Joel B. Green. Baker Publishing Group, 2011, 52-53, 445, and 733-34.
  • "The Key: When Life Begins," [Submitted as: "Clone with Caution,"] Washington Post,Sun., March 2, 1997, Sec C, p.1, 1998.

  • "Call/Vocation" and "Mothers/Motherhood," in Dictionary of Feminist Theologies.Edited by Letty M. Russell and J. Shannon Clarkson. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996, 34-35 and 186-188.
  • "Paul Lehmann," in Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith.Edited by Donald K. McKim. Westminster John Knox Press, 1992.

Online Commentaries

  • The Thoughtful Christian: Faithful Living in a Complex World (An Online Resource Center associated with Westminster John Knox Press):

"The Avian Flu"

"ProChoice and ProLife: Any Common Ground?"

"End of Life Issues: The Terri Schiavo Case"

"Preparing for the End of Life: Living Wills"

"Same Gender Marriage"

"Should the Ten Commandments Be Posted in the Public Realm?"

"Commentary: Abu Graib Prison Abuse Scandal," in Religion and Ethics News Weekly, May 14, 2004, Episode no. 737. 

Book Reviews and Notes

  • Michael Coogan, The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), Journal of Church and State, forthcoming 2015.

  • Dean G. Stroud, ed., Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2013). Theology Today 72.1, April 2015.

  • Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern, No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State (New York: A New York Review Book, 2013), Theology Today 72.1, April 2015.

  • Katharina von Kellenbach, The Mark of Cain: Guilt and Denial in the Post-War Lives of Nazi Perpetrators (Oxford University Press, 2013) Theology Today 72.1, April 2015.

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, Volume 8 (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

  • Martin E. Marty, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Letters and Papers from Prison": A Biography, Lives of Great Religious Books Series(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

  • Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

  • John W. Matthews, Bonhoeffer: A Brief Overview of the Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) Theology for Life Series(Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2011), Theology Today 69.4, January 2013.

  • Kenneth G. Appold,The Reformation: a Brief History (West Sussix: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Theology TodayVol. 69.3, October 2012.

  • Gordon Graham,Theories of Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with a Selection of Classic Readings(New York and London: Routledge, 2011), Theology TodayVol. 69.3, October 2012.

  • Luke Powery, Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in Preaching(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009) Theology TodayVol. 69.3, October 2012.

  • Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, editedby Joel B. Green, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Rebecca Miles, and Allen Verhey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), Theology TodayVol. 69.3, October 2012.

  • The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology by Ian A. McFarland, David A. S. Fergusson, Karen Kilby, and Iain R. Torrance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Theology TodayVol. 69.3, October 2012.

  • Stanley Hauerwas, War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity(Baker Academic, October 2011), The Expository Times, March 2013; vol. 124, 6: pp. 310-311.

  • Allen Verhey, The Christian Art of Dying Well: Learning from Jesus(Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2011), Theology Today69.2, 2012, 240-242.

  • David Bentley Hart,The Doors to the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?(Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Paperback, 2011), Theology Today 68.3, 2011, 351-52.

  • Jonathan Weiner,Long For This World: The Strange Science of Immortality(HarperCollins, NY, 2010), Theology Today 68.2, 2011, 203-204.

  • Christopher Morse, The Difference Heaven Makes:Rehearing the Gospel as News(T&T Clark, New York, 2010), Theology Today68.1, 2011, 75-79.

  • Ester D. Reed, The Ethics of Human Rights: Contested Doctrinal and Moral Issuesby (Baylor Univ Press, Waco, 2007), Studies in Christian Ethics23.4, 2010, 468-72.

  • Marva J. Dawn,Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy(Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1993), Princeton Seminary Bulletin,1995, 118-19.

  • John H. Leith,From Generation to Generation; The Renewal of The Church According to Its Own Theology and Practices(Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1990), Interpretation, April, 1991.

  • John F. Kilner,Who Lives? Who Dies? Ethical Criteria in Patient Selection(Yale University Press, 1990) in Theology Today,Vol. 48.1, April, 1991.

  • Eugene B. Borowitz,Contemporary Christologies: A Jewish Response(New York: Paulist Press, 1980), Union Seminary Quarterly Review,vol. 38.2, 1983.


Public Presentations, Interviews, and Panel Discussions

  • Invited: "The Ethics of Resisting and Accepting Death," Saint Columba Church, Johannesburg, October 2015.
  • Workshop Leader, "The Church Confesses: Ethics in the Work of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer," Barth Pastor's Conference, PTS, June 2015.
  • Day 1, "Hear the Animals Sing: The Bible, Genetics, and Non-Human Animals." Will air November 2015.
  • "The Ethics of Physician Assisted Death," Grand Rounds, Doylestown Hospital, June 11, 2015.
  • Moderator, American Academy of Religion Book Panel, James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, AAR, November 17, 2012.

  • Panelist for American Academy of Religion Book Panel, Christopher Morse, The Difference Heaven Makes, October 30, 2010.

  • "God and Country: Protecting the Integrity of the Christian Faith." Church/State Issues Symposium sponsored by Americans United for Separation of Church and Sate, Bucks Country Chapter, September 26, 2009. Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA.

  • Radio interview regarding "The Ten Commandments," Odyssey: A Daily Talk Show of Ideas, NPR Chicago, July 6, 2005.

  • Radio interview regarding "Terri Schiavo," Interfaith Connections, WKTU New York, May 1, 2005.

  • TV interview: "Commentary Re: Terri Schiavo," MSNBC, Friday, March 25, 2005.

  • Panel Discussion regarding stem cell research for Patients' CURE, Washington, D.C., 1998.

  • Panel Discussion: On Cloning for Stem Cell Research, Subcommittee of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Prof. James Childress, chair, 1997.

  • Panel Discussion: On Human Cloning in light of the cloning of Dolly, National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Prof. Harold Shapiro, chair, 1996.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Duff

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Hear the Animals Singing: The Bible and Genetics - Faith & Science Series Part 6

Tuesday October 27, 2015
The Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Duff offers a fascinating introduction to the role of animals in creation and in our lives, and encourages us to more fully respond to the biblical call to be responsible for the welfare of animals today.

Articles by The Rev. Dr. Nancy J. Duff

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Nancy Duff: The Church and the World of Genetic Research: Enemies or Partners in Conversation?

Thursday October 08, 2015
As the church enters and continues to participate in the conversation and debate over the moral issues involved in human genetic research (as well as in plant and animal genetic research), we cannot assume that all scientists or leaders in the biotechnology industry are devoid of moral concerns, nor can we simply let science and business regulate themselves.