Bernon Lee

Born and raised in Singapore, Bernon Lee read history and classics at the University of Calgary, dreaming of postgraduate pursuits in medieval studies. A semester of Biblical Hebrew, however, fired in him an appreciation for the Hebrew Bible, prompting a fresh direction for further studies.

The transcultural migrations of Bernon’s journey to North America have left in him something of a cultural ambivalence, and thus the torn (and often tortured) perspectives of readers pique his interest. His last book, Marginal(ized) Prospects through Biblical Ritual and Law: Lections from the Threshold (Palgrave Macmillan), looks at the Torah’s conception of prized and pristine entities (men’s heads, women’s wombs, esteemed ethnicities) through the lens of postcolonial, feminist and Asian-American hermeneutics. His current project brings to the fore the subversive and yet complicit gestures of nineteenth-century interpreters’ entanglements with imperial discourse in wrestling with biblical prescription.

A member of the Society of Biblical Literature, Bernon is a co-convenor of the Multicultural Perspectives on Theology, Religion and Biblical Interpretation section (Upper Mid-West Region), and a member of the steering committee for the Recovering Female Bible Interpreters section for the national conference.


PhD, Theology (Hebrew Scriptures), University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, 2003.

MA, Religious Studies (Hebrew Bible), University of Calgary, 1997.

BA, History, University of Calgary, 1995.

Research Interests

The Hebrew Bible in reception, postcolonial hermeneutics, nineteenth-century biblical interpretation. 

Selected Publications


Victorian Perversions: Sundered Suasions on Scripture in a Time of Empire (in preparation).

Marginal(ized) Prospects through Biblical Ritual and Law: Lections from the Threshold. Postcolonialism and Religions Series; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 (paperback in 2019).

Between Law and Narrative: The Method and Function of Abstraction. Gorgias Biblical Studies 51; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2010 (paperback in 2014).

Articles and Chapters

“Finding ‘Happy’: ‘Law’ and Propriety in Florence Nightingale’s Biblical Notations,” (article in preparation).

“Viragoes, Spermatophagy, and Racial Degeneration: Cultural Contraventions in Josephine Butler’s Meditations on the Levite’s Woman,” Journal of the Bible and Its Reception (forthcoming).

“Grace Aguilar, the Jealous Man, and Imperialism’s ‘Pleasure’,” Biblical Interpretation 29 (2021), 25-48.

“Grace Aguilar’s Double-Vision to a Feminized Religiosity through the Torah’s Laws on Inheritance and Vows,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 43.4 (2019), 539-55.

“Unity in Diversity: The Literary Function of the Formula of Retaliation in Leviticus 24.15-22,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 38.3 (2014), 297-313.

“‘Face to Face’: Moses as Prophet in Exodus 11:1-12:28,” in Mark Boda and Lissa Wray-Beal (eds.), Prophets and Prophecy in the Historiography of the Old Testament. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2013, 3-21.

“Eliza Smith’s The Battles of the Bible: Biblical Interpretation in Service of a Christian Social Agenda in Nineteenth-Century Urban Scotland,” in Nancy Calvert-Koyzis and Heather Weir (eds.), Breaking Boundaries: Female Interpreters who Challenged the Status Quo. New York/London: T & T Clark International/Continuum, 2010, 69-84.

“Conversations on the Bible with a Lady of Philadelphia,” in C. de Groot and M. A. Taylor (eds.), Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible. SBL Symposium Series 38; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007, 45-62.

Selected Presentations

“Victorian Viragoes: The Tale of the Levite’s Woman (Judges 19) in Josephine Butler’s Contentions with Late Victorian Sexual Mores” Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Recovering Female Bible Interpreters Section); November, 2020.

“Contesting Culture: Science and Theological Discourse in Josephine Butler’s Scriptural Meditations”; A Science and Religion Christmas (A Forum of the Reconciliation Studies Program at Bethel University Sponsored by The Scholarship and Christianity Project of Oxford University); December 2019.

“Grace Aguilar on the Law of the Jealous Man (Numbers 5:11-31): A Nineteenth-Century Engagement with England’s ‘Others’”; National Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Recovering Female Bible Interpreters Section); November, 2018.

“Speaking to Power: Grace Aguilar’s Reading of the Tale of Zelophehad’s Daughters”; National Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Recovering Female Bible Interpreters Section); November, 2016.

“The Assembly, the People, the Uterus, and the Land: A Feminist and Postcolonial Deconstruction of the ‘Israelite’ Subject in Conceiving the Sacred Spaces of Deuteronomy 22:13-24:4”; National Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Postcolonial Studies and Biblical Studies Section); November, 2014.

“Asian American Ruminations between Judges and Exodus in the Shadow of Cultural Hegemony”; Meeting of the Upper Mid-West Region of the Society of Biblical Literature (Asian Perspectives in Biblical Studies, Theology, and Religious Studies Section); April, 2014.

“A Response to Victor Ilfeanyi Ezigbo’s ‘God in Human Context: Reflection on Theology’s Contextuality and Contextual Theology’”; Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; October, 2013.

“A Clergyman’s Daughter’s Battles for the Bible”; National Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Recovering Female Interpreters of the Bible Section); November, 2007.

“Teaching the Bible in Nineteenth-Century America: The Example of a Catechistic Text from Philadelphia”; Doing Theology Together: Theological Networking in the Mid-West (A Conference Jointly Sponsored by the Korea Institute for Advanced Theological Studies and the Kuyer Institute of Calvin College); 26 February, 2006.

“Sarah Hall’s Conversations on the Bible: A Window on Nineteenth-Century Biblical Interpretation from the Fringes of Church and Academy”; Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities (Canadian Society of Biblical Studies); 29 May, 2005.