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Whitworth Theology Department Annual Newsletter 2018

Karin Heller (2003-present), Professor of Theology

Dear friends,

This year was my 15th year at Whitworth! I'm grateful for all I could achieve and for all that is still ahead of me. It was a good, yet very busy year. Here are a couple of highlights.

In November I received the Teaching the Bible grant, awarded by the PCUSA. My project was to write a textbook tentatively titled Great Themes of the Bible: A Women and Gender Friendly Perspective. I immediately started writing and submitted a proposal to Westminster John Knox Press. There will be no other projects this summer than to make as much progress as I can on this book. My goal is to have it finished by winter.

Throughout the year I continued to develop and sustain the theology & gender minor. It was our pleasure to welcome on campus Christine Roy Yoder, professor of Old Testament, language and exegesis from Columbia Theological Seminary. Her lecture titled "Wisdom Personified as a Woman: An Odyssey Across Texts and Testaments" made a big impact on an important crowd of students. For many of them it was the first time they heard about a female personification of the biblical God.

In October I was also pleased to engage in a conversation with faculty on the following topic: "What Kind of Feminist is Jesus?" I walked them through the three following texts: Jesus traveling in company of women (Luke 8:1-3); the Syro-Phoencian woman asking Jesus to heal his daughter (Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 15:21-28); and the anointing at Bethany followed by the foot washing (John 12:1-1; 13:1-35). We came to the following conclusions: To be a feminist for Jesus is: 1. to free men from all that makes them feel or declares them superior to women; 2. to free women from similar ambitions and societal alienations; 3. to free women and men to do what he did. 

In April I started working on our first Theology & Gender Newsletter. It presents in a very pleasant way a summary of activities, news from students and former students, as well as samples of students' reactions to events and speakers. Given that I was under time pressure, I was not able to create access to this newsletter by sharing a link to it here. Therefore, please, send me a request to receive it (kheller@whitworth.edu) and I'll send it off to you right away. It is a beautiful student-designed, colorful document, with many pictures. You should particularly enjoy reading the various student spotlights from students who are in the program right now.

I'm also happy to report that my contribution to a French encyclopedia on Jesus is now published. It is titled L'Onction à Béthanie ou la femme oubliée (The anointing at Bethany or the forgotten woman). Given the commercial success of this encyclopedia of 835 pages, the Parisan editor Albin Michel had to proceed with a third edition in January. There is great hope for an English edition of this work and its diffusion in the United States.

Last but not least, I'd like to mention my guest lecture series at University of Besançon. This year I spent an entire week in January in this beautiful city in the eastern part of France. My cycle of lectures was dedicated to the following theme: "Women and Men in the Church: Between Spiritual Power and Ecclesiastical Authorities." As this was my fourth year in a row, I'm now able to establish more personal relationships with students who, year by year, sign up for these classes. I enjoy very much building my American experience into these courses, and students enjoy very much receiving some "fresh wind" from the "New World."

Please, feel free to send me a request for receiving the TH&G Newsletter #1. Have a great summer!