Till the Heart Sings: A Biblical Theology of Manhood and Womanhood

Till the Heart Sings: A Biblical Theology of Manhood and Womanhood

Till the Heart Sings: A Biblical Theology of Manhood and Womanhood

Till the Heart Sings: A Biblical Theology of Manhood and Womanhood


This new edition of Till the Heart Sings, including a substantial foreword by Phyllis Trible, makes available again Samuel Terrien's rich, acclaimed study of the biblical witness to personhood. Sweeping yet selective in scope, the book argues that the Bible as a whole advances a theology of manhood and womanhood unique in the ancient world. This theology, which resides in the main thrust of Scripture, turns away from sexism and misogyny to confer upon woman as well as man the full stature of humanity. Terrien begins his argument where the Bible itself begins, with creation. He describes the first woman as "the crown of creation," in a mutual relationship with the first man. He then proceeds through Scripture -- including the prophets, the Wisdom literature, the Gospels, and the Pauline letters -- systematically showing that when the books of the Old and New Testaments are viewed in their historical growth, they reveal a theology of manhood and womanhood that runs counter to both traditional Judaism and Christianity and to modern religious attitudes and practices. In the course of his thorough analysis of Scripture, Terrien eloquently examines a host of themes bearing on the issues of gender and personhood, from the myth of the Garden and the eros-agape continuum in the Song of Songs to male overreaction to sexual mysticism and the Gnostic personification of wisdom. Terrien also explores matters related to marriage, homosexuality, and male and female priesthood, all with the aim of uncovering a truly biblical understanding of the relationship between the genders and between all people and God. "This is one of those rare books that ought to be read by anyone who deals with Scripture or sexuality. Seldom has this reader had the pleasure of reviewing a book that maintained such a high level of interest, insight, and scholarship from start to finish, or challenged in such a positive way so many accepted conclusions of both more traditional as well as feminist interpretations of biblical texts." Book jacket.


Memories of a Teacher

As an eloquent lecturer and meticulous scholar, Samuel Terrien lives in the memories of many who studied at Union Theological Seminary during the thirty-five years he taught there (1941–1976). This tall, imposing, and exuberant professor, having spent hours working behind the closed door of his office high up in Brown Tower, would burst out of seclusion, run down several flights of stairs, fling open the door of the classroom, settle his notes on the desk, and begin to speak with enthusiasm and style.

The offerings he brought covered a wide range of topics and methods, from textual criticism through ancient Near Eastern languages and literature to biblical theology. Along the way, literature, art, music, existential philosophy, and depth psychology spiced his exegetical insights, thereby showing that the Bible participated in a far-reaching and never-ending conversation with the church, the synagogue, and, indeed, the world. As a result, his passion for scholarly pursuits, intellectual delights, and the Word rightly proclaimed lingered among us long after we departed the classroom. The content of his lectures also endured. Information and interpretations he gave helped to shape, in various ways, views we held and stands we took across the years.

On the Changing of His Mind

If Terrien as lecturer, scholar, and person of faith affected us so decisively, we might well wonder about his own intellectual and theological journey across the years. Did he change his mind about what he believed and taught? Or did he continue to hold fast to the ideas and positions we remember? Fortunately, we have a definitive answer to the questions.

In 1992, at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Professor Terrien was the featured speaker for a plenary session entitled, “How My Mind Has Changed (or Remained the Same).” At the opening of his address, he quipped that the program committee took a great risk in selecting an octogenar-

1. In reporting on the session, I draw upon the paper that Terrien prepared for it. Although he delivered orally only parts of the paper, he sent the full version in advance to those of us who were to respond. I have kept a copy in my files. As far as I know, the paper was never published.

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