Russell, Letty M. 1929–2007

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Russell, Letty M. 1929–2007

(Letty Mandeville Russell)


See index for CA sketch: Born September 20, 1929, in Westfield, NJ; died of cancer, July 12, 2007, in Guilford, CT. Minister, theologian, educator, and author. Russell was ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church in 1958, when women were less welcome at the pulpit than they are today. She was educated in the ministry at Harvard University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she earned a doctorate in 1969. Russell was also one of the first women invited to teach at the Yale University Divinity School in the early 1970s, and she remained there for the rest of her academic career, teaching part-time after her formal retirement in 2001. Russell was described as an early champion of feminist theology, even before the notion of feminism took hold of the national conscience in the 1970s. As a minister in Harlem throughout most of the 1950s and 1960s she taught Bible classes that focused on oppressed people everywhere and women in particular. Her interpretation of the scriptures at that time, however, stressed the biblical theme of freedom rather than what some others perceived as a message of sexist oppression. She also promoted a round-table approach to participation in the church, rather than a discourse directed by a formal authority figure. In the 1980s Russell was a founding member of the Women's Theological Center in Boston, where she promoted the pursuit of feminist scholarship in a seminary setting. Her own scholarship is reflected in more than a dozen books, including Human Liberation in a Feminist Perspective: A Theology (1974), Household of Freedom: Authority in Feminist Theology (1987), and Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of the Church (1993). Russell's edited collections include Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (1985) and Hagar, Sarah, and Their Children: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives (2006).



Farley, Margaret A., and Serene Jones, editors, Liberating Eschatology: Essays in Honor of Letty M. Russell, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 1999.

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Russell, Letty M. 1929–2007

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