FRYMER-KENSKY, TIKVA


FRYMER-KENSKY, TIKVA, scholar of biblical studies. She received her bachelor's degree from City College of New York in 1965 and her doctorate from Yale University in 1977. She was a visiting associate professor at the University of Michigan and the Jewish Theological Seminary before becoming the director of biblical studies at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1988. In 1995 she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Divinity School as professor of Hebrew Bible and the history of Judaism.

Frymer-Kensky's areas of specialization include, in addition to Bible studies, Assyriology and Sumerology, Jewish studies, and women and religion. Her 1992 work, In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture, and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth, attracted widespread attention and critical acclaim. The work traces the shift in the Middle East from polytheism, which included the worship of goddesses, to monotheism; it examines changes in the role of women and questions whether religious experience would be different for women were the deity defined as female.

Motherprayer: The Pregnant Woman's Spiritual Companion (1995) is a collection of biblical interpretations, prayers, ancient Sumerian incantations, and meditations that draw from more recent Jewish and Christian tradition. Intended as a spiritual guide for mothers-to-be, the work follows the stages of pregnancy through birth. Though rooted in Frymer-Kensky's scholarly research, it found a wide audience outside academia.

Frymer-Kensky received the Koret Jewish Book Award in 2002 and a National Jewish Book Award in 2003 for Reading the Women of the Bible (2002). Noting that a text from a patriarchal society would not be expected to contain so many stories about women, she examines four female groups: victors, victims, virgins, and "voice." She suggests that the stories of women as both victors and victims originate during an absence of central power, coming before the rise of the Israelite monarchy and after its fall, and she relates the understanding of these stories to an Israeli conception of their subjugation by other groups.

Frymer-Kensky was editor, with David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Fox Sandmel, and Michael A. Signer, of Christianity in Jewish Terms (2000). This collection of essays examines aspects of Christianity that renounce antisemitism and that view Judaism as a spiritual path compatible with that of Christianity. She also served as editor, with Victor H. Matthews and Bernard M. Levinson, of Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (1998). Her later work involves a commentary on Ruth and further investigation of biblical theology. She is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

[Dorothy Bauhoff (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.