'Gender, Sexuality and Faith' focus of annual WFU Phyllis Trible lecture series

By Jacob McConnico
February 8, 2006

In its fourth year, the Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest University, scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1, builds on its growing reputation among religious scholars by bringing three additional prominent speakers to the university's Divinity School for a program focused on "Gender, Sexuality and Faith."

Phyllis Trible

The series, named in honor of Phyllis Trible, an internationally-known biblical scholar and University Professor of Biblical Studies in the Wake Forest Divinity School, will also celebrate the February release of "Hagar, Sarah and Their Children," a book prompted by the 2004 lecture series. The book was edited by Trible and Letty Russell, a 2004 lecture series participant and professor emerita of theology at Yale Divinity School.

Last year's lectures, "Miriam, Mary and Mary Magdalene in Art, Literature and Music: Feminist Perspectives," brought more than 300 attendees to Wake Forest.

Kelly Brown Douglas

This year, Kelly Brown Douglas, department chair and professor of religion at Goucher College in Maryland, will present the first lecture in the series, "Testifying to the Blues: Sex and the Black Church," at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Brendle Recital Hall in the university's Scales Fine Arts Center. A well-known womanist theologian and Episcopal priest, Douglas is the author of "Sexuality and the Black Church," "The Black Christ" and "What's Faith Got to Do With It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls."

Elizabeth Bounds, associate director of the graduate division of religion and coordinator of the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will present the lecture "Loosed or Bound Again? Life With Father God" at 3 p.m. Feb. 28 in Brendle Recital Hall.

Elizabeth Bounds

Bounds, an expert in the areas of feminist and liberation ethics and the communal dimensions of church and civil society, is the author of "Coming Together/Coming Apart: Religion, Modernity, and Community."

At 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28, a reception will be held in the lobby of Brendle Recital Hall. Trible will sign copies of "Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children" at the reception. The book, which is being published by Westminster/John Knox Press, includes lectures delivered during the 2004 Trible lecture series by Trible; Russell; Riffat Hassan, professor of religious studies and humanities at the University of Louisville in Kentucky; and Adele Reinhartz, dean of graduate studies and research and a professor in the religion and culture department at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.

"Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children"

The book also includes a new essay on Hagar in Jewish midrash or rabbinic commentary on the Bible by Reinhartz and an essay on Hagar in womanist theology from Delores Williams, a professor emerita from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

At 6 p.m. Feb. 28, Trible will deliver the lecture "If You Are Elijah Then I Am Jezebel" in Brendle Recital Hall. A past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Trible began her teaching career at Wake Forest in 1963. She left Wake Forest in 1971 to teach at Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. In 1979, Trible left Andover Newton and joined the faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

From 1981 until her appointment to the Wake Forest Divinity School in 1998, Trible was the Baldwin Professor of Sacred Theology at Union.

An internationally known Hebrew scholar and rhetorical critic, Trible provided expert commentary for Bill Moyer's public television series "Genesis: A Living Conversation." She is the author of the books "God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality," "Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives" and "Rhetorical Criticism: Context, Method, and the Book of Jonah."

"Rosemary Radford Ruether"

During the final day of the lecture series, March 1, Rosemary Radford Ruether will deliver the 9:30 a.m. lecture "Why Do Men Want Goddesses?" in the university's Wait Chapel. Ruether, professor emerita at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., is a pioneering feminist theologian and renowned speaker whose interests in theology, religion and culture have been communicated in more than 20 books, including "Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology," "Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History," "Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism" and "Integrating Ecofeminism, Globalization, and World Religions."

A panel discussion scheduled for 11 a.m. March 1 in Wait Chapel, followed by a 12:30 p.m. luncheon will conclude the series. The cost for the lectures is $50 for all four or $20 for each individual lecture. There is an additional $10 charge for the closing luncheon on March 1. For a complete schedule of events, visit the lecture series' Web site at http://divinity.wfu.edu/trible-lectures.html. For additional information, call 336-758-3522.