Dr. Rachel Toombs

Professor of Theology and Old Testament

Rachel’s Story

Dr. Rachel Toombs with Lance Green standing by rock wallRachel loves stories. They serve as the thread that connects and enlivens her interdisciplinary academic interests. Growing up as a voracious reader of fiction, Rachel discovered the richness of the stories of the Old Testament during her undergraduate studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. While she was there for her BA in Youth Ministry, Rachel’s classes on the Old Testament revealed a passion for bringing alive the world of ancient Israel in which the stories of the Hebrew Bible unfold.

After her undergraduate studies, she spent three years working with underserved youth outside of Minneapolis, where telling the stories of God’s people—in their triumphs, agonies, faithfulness, and faithlessness—continued to fuel her interest in the Bible.

She then moved to Vancouver, Canada where she pursued her MA in Theological Studies with a concentration in Old Testament. While she arrived at Regent College ready to learn Hebrew and more about the ancient Near East world in which the Old Testament stories reside, she found herself surprised at the ongoing and creative reception of these stories throughout the history of the Church. Reading third-century Cappadocian theologian Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses revealed not only a rich theological imagination, but the impact of ancient Israel’s stories in the life of the Christian Church.

Rachel’s time during her Master’s degree was characterized by both the dissonance and resonance found in bringing biblical scholarship and theological reflection into relationship with one another. This wrestling brought her to Baylor University in Waco, TX where she recently completed a Ph.D. in Religion with a concentration in Theology and a cognate study in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Rachel’s doctoral dissertation reflects her love of story and interdisciplinary approach to theology, as she explored the theological impact of Flannery O’Connor’s literary style on her readers by parallelling the twentieth-century Southern writer to biblical Hebrew narrative’s spare style.

The centrality of story in conveying the central claims of Christian theology remains a centerpoint in her classroom at YTI. Rachel aims to make her students good and generous readers, thoughtful theologians, and appreciators of the way the arts can communicate theology (sometimes more profoundly than propositional claims).

In her free time, Rachel remains a voracious reader, with a particular fondness for historical fiction, science fiction, and fairy stories. She is also an avid baker presently relearning all of her favorite recipes at high elevation, a Minnesota Twins fan, novice cook, and dog lover with two pit rescues, Eowyn and Rosie.


Ph.D., Religion [Theology], Baylor University
Dissertation: “Blessed Wounding: The Theological Import of Paratactic Style in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction and Hebrew Narrative”
Supervisor: Ralph C. Wood, PhD

M.A., Theological Studies [Old Testament], Regent College
Thesis: “Reading Exodus 12:1–13:16 with the Church: The Implications of Gadamer’s Philosophical Hermeneutics for Biblical Interpretation”
Supervisor: Iain W. Provan, PhD

B.A., Youth Ministry, Bethel University
Minor: Biblical and Theological Studies

Work History & Experience

Professor of Theology and Old Testament, Yellowstone Theological Institute, 2017 – present

National Student Director and Board Member, American Academy of Religion, January 2018 – Present

Student Director, Southwest Region of American Academy of Religion, 2016 – 2018

Graduate Assistant, Baylor University, 2013 – 2017

Academic Secretary, Regent College, 2012 – 2013

Distance Ed Teaching Assistant, Regent College (Old Testament Foundations–Dr. Iain Provan), 2010 – 2013

Research Assistant, Dr. James Houston, 2011 – 2013

Research Assistant, Regent College (Dr. Iain Provan), 2011 – 2012

Outreach Specialist, TreeHouse Youth, 2006 – 2009


Review of The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith by R.W.L. Moberly, Anglican Theological Review 100 (Fall 2018): 833.

Review of The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable by Steven D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall, Trinity Journal 36 (Fall 2015): 310—12.

Invited & Public Lectures

“The Stories of Flannery O’Connor: Narrating the Terrifying Reality of Grace,” Yellowstone Theological Institute Public Lecture – April 19, 2018

“Blessed Wounding: Theological Implications of Flannery O’Connor’s Spare Narrative Style,” University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts (ITIA) Research Seminar – February 16, 2018

Presented Papers

“The Naked Voice and The Wounded Word: Jean-Louis Chrétien on the Vulnerability of Prayer,” Southwest American Academy of Religion, Irving, TX, March 10, 2018

“Hildegard of Bingen: Exegete and Theologian in ‘Solution to Thirty-Eight Questions,’” Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, MA, November 18, 2017

“The Murky Waters of the Tragic and Comic in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘The River,’” Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion Saint Paul, MN, April 1, 2017

“Engaging Across Disciplines: An Interdisciplinary Response to ‘Who is Mary of Nazareth?’” Southwest American Academy of Religion, Irving, TX, March 13, 2017 – Panel Participant

“Sarah Coakley and the Distorted Self in Walker Percy’s Lancelot,”Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion, Saint Paul, MN, April 2, 2016

“A Crippled Victor and a Blinded Convert: Narrative Style in Jacob’s Wresting in Gen 22:22–33 and Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood,” South Central Modern Language Association Dallas, TX,November 4, 2016

“A Closer Kinship? David’s Prayer in 2 Sam 7 and 1 Chr 17,” Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA, November 24, 2015

“As a ‘White Cloud’: Hildegard of Bingen’s Reading of the Temptation of Eve,” American Society of Church History Minneapolis, MN, April 18, 2015

“From Precept to Testimony: Augustine, Faustus the Manichee and the Testimony of the Hebrews,” Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion Portland, OR, March 28, 2015

“Reinhold Niebuhr and the Old Testament,” Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, Irving, TX, March 8, 2014

“On the Value of a Good Question: Reading Exodus 12:29-36 with Gregory of Nyssa and Brevard Childs,” Upper Midwest Society of Biblical Literature Saint Paul, MN, April 6, 2013


The Glenn O. and Martell B. Hilburn Endowed Graduate Research Scholarship, March 2016, Waco, TX

Baylor University Dean’s Scholarship, 2013–2018, Waco, TX

Baylor University Department of Religion Tuition Scholarship, 2013–2018, Waco, TX

Institute for Religion and Culture Scholarship, December 2013, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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