Monday, April 4, 2011

Phyllis and the Whales

Phyllis Trible lives in a sea of whales.

Since writing a dissertation on Jonah in 1963, and publishing Rhetorical Criticism: Method, Context, and the Book of Jonah (Fortress Press, 1994), she has somehow acquired dozens of whales in wood, stone, glass, ceramics, etc.

The entire pod swims on the top floor of a 21-story building in the Morningside Gardens residences across the street from Jewish Theological Seminary, a few blocks down Broadway from Columbia University.

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with her and the whales, enjoying views of the Hudson River, trains far below on the street, and bridges visible beyond rooftops.

Perched on stools at a sunny window with this view extending beneath us, we ate lentil soup with a salad of avocado, pears, apples, and walnuts.

We talked of:

* definitions of feminism... including Rosemary Ruether's "the belief that women are fully human."

* books exploring the process of translating the "authorized version" of the Bible in 1611 (in contrast to previous versions for which writers had been in danger of burning) and the 400th anniversary of the King James Version.

* lectures last month at Wake Forest University in her honor... "The Greening of Feminism"

* the tenth anniversary of these lectures next year with the theme "Feminist Biblical Scholars and Theologians from across the Globe Explore Feminist Biblical Interpretation," March 6-7, 2012

* her recent trip to Austin, Texas, to speak at the Seminary of the Southwest (Episcopal)

*Anna Quindlen's talk last week at Barnard College about feminism in 2011...

* six-year-old Stella from down the hall who comes to visit, playing with the stuffed whales on a small rug and climbing on a stool to find cookies in a cupboard.

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