Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky

Posted by Censor Librorum on Apr 22, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

A few months ago, I picked up a copy of the magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, to read on the Acela between Washington, DC and New York. Included in Milestones was an obituary of Tikva Frymer-Kensky (1943-2006), a professor of the Hebrew Bible and the History of Judaism in the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. Frymer-Kensky was an expert on Assyriology, Sumerology, Biblical studies and Jewish studies. She was especially known for her work on women and religion.

After reading it, I had the sudden pang of regret that I had only discovered her after her death. In just that short article about her, two of her ideas have forever changed how I look at the Bible. 1) Misogyny in the Bible can be attributed to Greek ideas that entered Judaism during the Hellenistic period. 2) She noted the negative effects of the Bible’s removal of gender from the divine; particularly the fact the Bible, and Judaism and Christianity in general, have so little to say about human sexuality and reproduction.

“She was unique. I don’t know of another scholar in the world who combined as she did mastery of Assyriology with sustained attention to feminist readings in the service of biblical theology,” said Divinity School Dean Richard Rosengarten. “Hers was a capacious intellect, and all her work was inflamed by her deep passion for the material both in its original context and in ours. This combination made her a remarkably compelling scholar and teacher, and one whose absence is deeply felt already.”

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