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Conversations with New Faculty

Professors bring unique perspectives and extensive expertise

Eric Barreto ’04, Gerald Liu, Margarita Mooney, and Mark S. Smith are the newest scholars to join the Princeton Seminary faculty. Find out how they are preparing students to be Christian leaders.


Dr. Eric D. Barreto ’04

Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament

Wide Image New Faculty Barreto

What unique perspective do you bring to Princeton Seminary?
I devoured books as a child and developed a love for story as a way to narrate what God is doing in the world through us. But it was also my experience as a Latino growing up both in Puerto Rico and in various parts of the U.S. that sharpened my understanding of how stories can shape and reshape us.

How will your classes prepare students to be Christian leaders?
It may be easier to see how someone preaching every week is drawing upon what they learned in my classes. But my hope is that all students, no matter what kind of calling they pursue, will hear the echoes of Scripture in their everyday encounters. I hope they will hear God’s voice sharpened by the stories of Scripture as they encounter the needs of the world.

If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be?
I see a need for deep wisdom and discernment in all kinds of ministry. In this digital age, it can be hard to discern which information to trust, and which sources are reliable. That is the kind of wisdom that I hope to nurture in my students and the kind of wisdom that an engaged reading of Scripture nurtures—to be both generous and critical readers. 

What is a resource that you recommend to students and alumni?
I would point students and alumni to websites like workingpreacher.org and onscripture.org. Everyone should own The Women’s Bible Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), edited by Carol Newsom, Sharon Ringe, and Jacqueline Lapsley.

I have learned so much from Matthew Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel (Baker Publishing Group, 2015) and Brian Blount’s Invasion of the Dead (Westminster John Knox Press, 2014). I am eager to read Beverly Roberts Gaventa’s When in Romans (Baker Publishing Group, 2016) and Willie Jennings’s Acts commentary in the Belief series (Westminster John Knox Press, 2016). 

View Dr. Barreto's faculty profile


Dr. Gerald Liu

Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching

New Faculty Gerald Liu

What unique perspective do you bring to Princeton Seminary?
I was born in Mississippi to culturally Buddhist immigrants from Taiwan. My travels have taken me to more than forty countries across five continents. I bring the perspective of a Chinese/Taiwanese southern journeyman ready to embolden students from all kinds of backgrounds who are pursuing ministry and theological education. 

How will your classes prepare students to be Christian leaders? 
In my worship courses, I emphasize design. The traditions of Christianity offer many resources assembling together for the love of neighbor and glory of God. But the cinematic violence, relentless discrimination, and religious confusion we see today also requires regular and skillful use of liturgical imagination and invention.

If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be?
If I could, I would teach students how to love. It sounds trite to say that, but so much of the curriculum in theological education attempts to transmit lessons intended to deepen the love of God and neighbor. Learning how to love with theological sophistication requires not only an excellent curriculum, but a lot more. I hope that some of what happens in the classroom strengthens the incandescence of the students as they shine a light on divine love and grace in the world.

What is one book that you recommend to students and alumni?
One title worth knowing is Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng (HarperCollins, 2010). Cheng is a Chinese American author who writes a gothic novel set in Mississippi with an African American protagonist. This book models how it is possible to imagine yourself in the shoes and lands of others and produce accessible beauty of the highest order.

View Dr. Liu's faculty profile


Dr. Margarita Mooney

Associate Professor of Congregational Studies

Wide Image New Faculty Mooney

What unique perspective do you bring to Princeton Seminary?
I am a scholar, educator, mentor, and author who is interested in how interdisciplinary work in social sciences, philosophy, and theology can contribute both to a scientific understanding of the world and generate practical knowledge about the art of everyday living. 

How will your classes prepare students to be Christian leaders?
I’ve always had a commitment to engaged scholarship—that is, working with community leaders and pastors to reflect on social issues and propose new pathways forward. As a faculty member, I plan to teach courses like Congregational Studies, Religion and Social Theory, Philosophy of Social Science, and Religion and Resilience. I’ve always enjoyed mentoring my students in their vocational journeys, and I look forward to sharing my intellectual and spiritual journey with them.

If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be?
Your work is God’s work. If something doesn’t work out, put your trust in God and keep moving.

What is one book that you recommend to students and alumni?
I recently read Esther de Waal’s Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict (The Liturgical Press, April 2001). It reminded me that holiness is about seeking God in all things, even the smallest daily tasks. I was also reminded that we can grow from the tensions in fulfilling our many roles. We are children of God and can find rest in the awareness of God’s mercy and grace. 

View Dr. Mooney's faculty profile


Dr. Mark S. Smith

Helena Professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis

New Faculty Smith

What unique perspective do you bring to Princeton Seminary?
Perhaps my sense of human commonality and cultural difference between various religious communities and their members. My experience combines a lifelong commitment as a Roman Catholic Christian, an active engagement in Jewish ritual and tradition for more than three decades, and successive and substantial interactions with Reformation Christianity.

How will your classes prepare students to be Christian leaders?
I hope to practice models for critical, cooperative, and active learning and engagement that apply widely to professional life.

If you could teach your students one thing, what would it be?
What you know most deeply about yourself or about anyone else or about the world, will change. A lot. So, for now, embrace who and what you newly encounter and try to understand (and enjoy) the limits of what is known. And practice forgiveness, kindness, and mercy.

What is one book that you recommend to students and alumni?
I’d suggest Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection (Pantheon Books, 1999) by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. It offers a long and thoughtful look at mothers, fathers, and children through the lens of anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary theory.

View Dr. Smith's faculty profile

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church, Crystal City, Missouri

Joshua Noah, Class of 2015

“Through my field education placement at Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey, I discovered my gift to minister to all age groups. ”