Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey

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MOLLENKOTT, Virginia Ramey

Born 28 January 1932, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Daughter of Robert F. and May Lotz Ramey; married Friedrich Mollenkott, 1954 (divorced 1973); children: Paul

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott had a Christian upbringing and education, receiving a B.A. from Bob Jones University in 1953. A year later, she married a schoolteacher, and a son was born in 1958. The marriage ended in divorce in 1973. Mollenkott earned an M.A. from Temple University (1955) and a Ph.D. from New York University (1964). She has chaired English departments at Nyack College and Shelton College, and is Professor Emeritus at Paterson College of New Jersey.

Mollenkott is known for writings on English literature (especially the 17th century), religion, education, feminism, and social justice. All of her writings may be subsumed under the theme of oneness, which Mollenkott variously describes as an "organic wholeness" and a "transcendental integrative vision." The emphasis is on seeing God in all things and serving God in all activities, integration of the human personality around a unifying center, and awareness of humanity's interdependence.

In her first book, Adamant and Stone Chips (1967), Mollenkott strives to awaken other Christians to the exhilaration and joy of her "Christian humanist" approach. Rather than being fearful and suspicious of human culture, "the Christian humanist takes…a positive approach to academics, aesthetics, and human relationships." Using examples from literature, Mollenkott illustrates what such a view has meant in earlier times and can mean for today. In Adam Among the Television Trees: An Anthology of Verse by Contemporary Christian Poets (1971), Mollenkott continues her examination of this field.

In Search of Balance (1969) is a personal account of Mollenkott's attempts to deal with questionings, doubts, paradox, freedom, and responsibility. The book amplifies "balance" themes found throughout Mollenkott's writings: the counterpoint of now and then, the "dialectic of faith," the distinction between ultimate categories and human categories, and the need for self-awareness.

In Women, Men, and the Bible (1977, revised 1988, translated into Korean in 1981), Mollenkott calls for male-female equality through mutual submission and mutual service, stressing that "Christian equality is never a matter of jockeying for the dominant position." The theme of neighbor love and social justice is examined further in Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? (1978, revised and expanded 1994), where the emphasis is on respecting the dignity and worth of one of society's most oppressed groups.

Equality, compassion, social justice, oneness—all are viewed by Mollenkott as grounded in redemptive grace, as "Christ impaled but with forgiving love / impaling his impalers." Speech, Silence, Action! The Cycle of Faith (1977), a spiritual autobiography, features Mollenkott's analysis of inclusive God-language and other issues with which she has come to be identified in recent years. Critics have acknowledged Mollenkott as an important literary scholar, noted especially for her work on Milton and also as an articulate Christian humanist and an influential evangelical feminist.

Continuing her efforts to promote Christian feminism, Mollenkott published two interesting tomes, the first being The Divine Feminine: Biblical Imagery of God as Female (1983). The work's widespread appeal led to several printings and translations, including German (1985), French (1990), and Italian (1993). The other, Women of Faith in Dialogue, gives readers differing perspectives of women, faith, and feminism. Mollenkott is also a frequent contributor to a myriad of publications, including Cross Currents, Christianity Today, Commonweal, Daughters of Sarah, English Language Notes, Higher Education, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Journal of Psychology and Theology, Modern Language Quarterly, Milton Studies, Religion in Public Education, Seventeenth-Century News, Studies in Formative Spirituality, Texas Quarterly and others.

Other Works:

Views from the Intersection (with C. Barry, 1984). Godding: Human Responsibility and the Bible (1987). Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism (1992).


Apel, W. D., Witnesses Before Dawn: Exploring the Meaning of Christian Life (1984). DeSocio, M. L., "Feminist Theology: A Study of Biblical Hermeneutics" (thesis 1987). Hamaan, G. J., "Homosexuality as an Etiological, Theological and Sociological Issue: A Critique of and Response to the Book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? by Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott" (thesis 1980). Hearn, V., ed., Our Struggle to Serve: The Stories of Fifteen Evangelical Women (1979). Hunter, W. B., et al., eds., A Milton Encyclopedia (1978). Siker, J. S., ed., Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate (1994). Smith, A., "Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, An Evangelical Feminist Vision" (thesis 1988).

Reference works:

CA (1973, 1999). Directory of American Scholars. Dictionary of International Biography WW in the East. WW of American Women.

Other references:

Faces on Faith: An Interview With Virginia Mollenkott (video, 1989). The Other Side (May-June 1976). Union Seminary Quarterly Review (Winter 1977). Christianity and Literature (Winter 1979).