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Staff Q&A: Dorothy Lee

The Revd Canon Professor Dorothy Lee is Trinity College's Stewart Research Professor of New Testament. Growing up in a conservative family, Dorothy never saw herself becoming an ordained minister, but says the eventual process taught her many valuable lessons.

Dorothy Lee Trinity College

What are your areas of interest or specialisation?

My main interest is in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of John, and I use a literary approach with particular attention to imagery and how it interacts with narrative. I’ve always loved stories, from a small child when my parents read to us—stories from the Bible, from the Classics—and it seemed natural to study the narrative texts of the New Testament.

What do you enjoy most about working at Trinity College?

I like working in an effective and stimulating team of people with good resources to carry out our work, and flexibility in working arrangements.

How would you describe Trinity’s theological community?

It’s a friendly, open-minded, stimulating, committed and caring community.

What is one of your favourite Bible verses and why?

My favourite verse is John 1:14: ‘And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us. And we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ I never cease to be amazed that in Jesus, God became one of us, shared our life and died our death, reclaiming our humanity for God. But the word ‘flesh’ also implies a wider communion of God with all living creatures and thus all creation.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child, people didn’t tend to ask girls that question. I grew up in a loving but extremely conservative and patriarchal family, so to find my way out as an ordained female minister in the church was demanding and I learnt a good deal from the struggle.

What do you think it means to live a life with purpose?

I think living a life of purpose is developing compassion for all living creatures, and becoming aware that all compassion has its origins in God.

What’s your favourite book and why?

My favourite book is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It is often classed as a comedy, but it is shot through with tragedy, or at least its potential. I love the characterisation, the rather grim but humorous view of human nature, the exquisite prose, and the strong yet subtle moral vision that pervades it.

Which activities make you lose track of time?

My own writing (when it’s going well!) and reading well-written novels.

What do you think it means to be a good person?

For me, being a good person means living a life of humility and love before the face of God: knowing how needy we are and connecting with others in self-giving service.