An Open Letter to Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel

Elisabeth Moltmann-WendelDear Mrs. Moltmann-Wendel,

I am so delighted that SCM Press translated your autobiography into English.  As you know, many of your works are difficult to find (or, if translated, quite pricey to abtain) so I often have the feeling of being a few (German) steps away from a really great discovery.   Anyway, yesterday I was perusing the library shelves and stumbled upon your autobiography, to my delight.  Last night when I should have been doing something on my gargantuan task list I instead began reading it and confess that I have done little else since.  So, I’d like to take it upon myself to simply say this:

You are quite an incredible woman.  All those conferences you organized!  Those insights about Mary Magdalene and Exodus and the political nature of the female body!  And I loved that story of how you and Jurgen walked out in the Swabian Alps battling over how and in what style you would give your joint speech to the World Council of Churches in Sheffield, he being more comfortable with traditional theological lectures and you shoving his feet toward using the word “I” and speaking from his own personal experience.

I often wondered what it was like for you to be a budding theologian in your own right only to see the entire world get swept up in your husband’s work quite unexpectedly after he published “A Theology of Hope” in 1964.  This is to say nothing against your husband, who, believe me, J’adore, but his subsequent success certainly placed both of you in a new and difficult situation.  I was talking to a dear mentor friend recently who said that she feels most women of clergy/theologians/professors often subsume their own call into their husbands’ call, only to realize much later that their call went unanswered and now needed tending.  It sounds like something close to that happened to you, when in your forties you found your voice again and began writing again and doing much to define what would become (and is still becoming) the new faces of theology.  I cannot overstate how glad I am that you did.

And, it should be mentioned, I’m thrilled at all the new ways I can now see your own fingerprints showing up in the work of your husband.  It is without doubt that your collegial appreciation for one another and your rigorous theological debating over morning coffee has benefited the world many times over.  Now, if only you can convince that Margaret Kohl to translate all of your works into English, we will be well on our way.



1 Comment

  1. This is beautiful, Danielle. But do I really need to read *another* book before the Theological Conversation in September? Oh, okay, twist my arm.

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