“Love never ends. It goes beyond death.”
– Jürgen Moltmann, speaking of his wife Elisabeth during a recent Work of the People interview.
I’ve just learned that Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, famous feminist theologian and wife of fellow theologian Jürgen Moltmann, died on Tuesday, June 7. She was 89. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Via ekd.de (with thanks to Google Translate):
The feminist theologian Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel is dead. She died on June 7 at the age of 89 years in Tübingen [….] She became internationally known as one of the pioneers of feminist theology in Germany and the author of numerous books and studies. Since 1952 she was married to the Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann and had four daughters.
Elisabeth’s works available in English include I Am My Body, Rediscovering Friendship and The Women Around Jesus. An incredible theologian in her own right, she also had a profound impact on the thinking of her husband Jürgen. Anyone who reads his books will find the influence of his wife throughout. As he writes of her in his autobiography:
Personally, the discussions with Elisabeth about a joint theology taught me to say ‘I’ and to withdraw my seemingly objective professional language – ‘this is the way it is’ – reducing it to my own conviction. Whatever we see and perceive is limited by the conditions of the place where we stand. If we want to communicate our perception to other people, we must be aware of our perspectives. Male and female existence in their respective socio-cultural forms are part of the conditions for possible perceptions. This does not at all mean putting what has been perceived down to existential conditions, as Feuerbach and Marx thought. Not every objective perception is ‘nothing other than’ a self-perception, but every perception is a link between the perceiver and the perceived, and creates community between the two. Consequently, the subjective perception of one’s self belongs to every perception of God, even if this leads to a self-forgetting astonishment. I have learnt to introduce theological questions and perceptions into the context of the life in which I myself am living together with others. For this path ‘out of ideas into life’ I have to thank Elisabeth and her feminist theology.
A Broad Place, 330-331
Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel and her husband Jürgen Moltmann coauthored and/or contributed to several books together, including Passion for God: Theology in Two Voices, God: His and Hers, Humanity in God, and Love: The Foundation of Hope.
At the Emergent Village Conversation in 2009, Jürgen Moltmann was asked about what it was like being married to a fellow theologian. Listen to his response:
I regret that most of my direct exposure to Elisabeth’s writing so far has been through a chapter here and a chapter there. I hope to remedy this shortcoming in my reading very soon, and have just picked up Rediscovering Friendship on Kindle (it happens to be on sale for $3.99 at the moment).
Readers of this blog may remember that last year I digitized some old video of Jürgen Moltmann and Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel and posted it here. This segment, Theology of Hope: A Feminist Response, featured Elisabeth especially. It is well worth watching!