Marilyn and Ralph Klein Chair of Old Testament Studies
B.A. Luther College
M.A. Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
M.A. University of Chicago Divinity School
Ph.D. University of Chicago Divinity School
Areas of Expertise
Topics that Dr. Menn is available to address at adult forums and other congregational events
Biblical Narratives of Hope and Courage through Times of Crisis
Inspiring Women of the Bible: Miriam, Sarah and Hagar, Ruth and Naomi, Esther
The Psalms and Christian Faith
Race, Ethnicity, and the Bible
Jewish-Christian Relations: Our Painful Past and Recent Developments (co-taught by Rabbi)
First-Century Judaism as Background for the New Testament
World Christianity (presentations by international church leaders currently in the LSTC doctoral program)
No stranger to Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Esther Menn did her graduate studies at LSTC and the University of Chicago Divinity School. Following her advanced studies, she taught in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia. Special interests include literary and rhetorical study of the Bible, feminist and multicultural appropriations of scripture, the history of biblical interpretation, and Jewish-Christian relations.
She is currently editing a book about contemporary approaches to the Psalms. She has also written on Genesis, Exodus, Jeremiah, Song of Songs, and Esther. Menn is deeply dedicated to Jewish-Christian understanding and is a member of the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations and the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. She co-edited Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation about the Bible, and contributed a chapter on “Law and Gospel,” in Covenantal Conversations: Christians in Dialogue with Jews and Judaism, which now has a Select Learning companion DVD of the same title, intended for congregational use.
In addition to teaching Old Testament courses, Menn co-directs the Biblical Emphasis and organizes events in Jewish-Christian relations. With colleague Barbara Rossing, Menn leads a January travel seminar to Israel and Palestine every other year. “The World of the Bible: Ancient Sites and Current Struggles”. Menn lives in campus housing with her husband Bruce Tammen, daughter Kaia, and sons Joseph, Elijah, and Daniel. Urban organic gardening and enjoying the sand beaches of Lake Michigan’s southern end are family passions.
Esther Menn, is the Marilyn and Ralph Klein Chair of Old Testament Studies, professor of Old Testament. She joined the faculty of her alma mater (M.A., 1985) in the 2001-02 academic year. She taught previously in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia (1995-2001), where she was promoted to associate rank and granted tenure in 2001. While at the University of Virginia, she spent a sabbatical year as a visiting scholar at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a W.F. Albright associate fellow, supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. She has been an adjunct faculty member at McCormick Theology Seminary (1995), a lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School (1994-95), and instructor at California Lutheran University, Department of Religion (1988-90). In addition to her work at LSTC, she also teaches occasional courses in Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Menn’s first book Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38) in Ancient Jewish Exegesis: Studies in Literary Form and Hermeneutics was published in 1997. She is one of four co-editors of Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation about the Bible, a volume emerging from a 2005 Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools conference of the same title (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007), and the editor of Methods for the Psalms (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, 2009). She has contributed numerous articles to edited collections and scholarly journals including Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Jewish Studies, Journal for the Study of Judaism, and Currents in Theology and Mission. She has a long-time interest in the figure of King David in early Christian and Jewish Psalms interpretation.
Menn has delivered many papers at national and regional meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). She is chair of the Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity section at the national level, as well as a member of the Book of Psalms section. At the Midwest regional level, she is co-chair of the Bible Meaning through Time and History section.
Menn is active in Jewish-Christian relations, as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations and of the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. In 2001, she was a delegate to the Lutheran World Federation's international consultation on anti-semitism and anti-Judaism held in Budapest, Hungary. With colleague Barbara Rossing, Menn regularly co-hosts a travel seminar, World of the Bible: Ancient Sites and Current Struggles in the Holy Land.
Concurrent with her graduate work at LSTC, Menn received the master of arts degree in the history of religions from the University of Chicago Divinity School. The doctor of philosophy degree was bestowed "with distinction" by the University of Chicago, and she received the Susan Colver Rosenberger Prize for constructive and original dissertation research. Additional studies were taken at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Kibbutz Revivim in Israel, Middlebury College, and Duke University.
At LSTC Menn teaches courses in Old Testament, chairs the Bible division, and organizes events and conferences in Jewish-Christian relations.
Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation about the Bible, ed. Melody D. Knowles, Esther Menn, John Pawlikowski and Timothy J. Sandoval, volume from 2005 Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools conference of same title. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007)
Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38) in Ancient Jewish Exegesis: Studies in Literary Form and Hermeneutics (Journal for Jewish Studies Supplement Series 51; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997).
Articles and Chapters in Books and Journals
“Partnership with Mar Thomas Church of India Enriches Church and LSTC” LSTC Epistle Vol. 43 No. 1 (Winter, 2013) 11-12
“A Little Child Shall Lead Them: the Role of the Little Israelite Servant Girl (2 Kings 5: 1-19,” Currents in Theology and Mission, Vol. 35, No. 5 (October 2008): 340-348
"Repentance in the Wilderness: Sons of Korah in Rabbinic Psalms Commentary," in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity volume, ed. Kenneth Pomykala, (forthcoming).(2008)
"Law and Gospel," in conversation with Krister Stendahl, in Talking Points: Topics in Jewish-Christian Relations, ed. Darrell Jodock, ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations (forthcoming, Minneapolis: Fortress). (2007)
"Land, Displacement, and Hope in Jeremiah and in Today's World," in God and
Human Dignity, ed. R. Kendall Soulen and Linda Woodhead (Grand Rapids,
Mich.: William B. Eerdmans) 161-78. 2006
"Prayer of the Queen: Esther's Religious Self in the Septuagint," in Religion and the Self in Antiquity, ed. David Brakke, Michael L. Satlow, and Steven Weitzman, (Bloomington: Indiana University) 70-90. 2005
"Prayerful Origins: David as Temple Founder in Rabbinic Psalms Commentary
(Midrash Tehillim)," in Of Scribes and Sages: Early Jewish Interpretation and Transmission of Scripture, Vol. 2: Later Versions and Traditions, ed. Craig A. Evans (Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity 10; Library of Second Temple Studies 51; London: T & T Clark International) 77-89. 2004
"Sweet Singer of Israel: David and the Psalms in Early Judaism," in Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical, and Artistic Traditions, ed. Harold W. Attridge and Margot E. Fassler (SBL Symposium Series 25; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature) 61-74. 2003
"Inner-Biblical Exegesis," in History of Biblical Interpretation 1, ed. Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans) 55-79. 2003
"Thwarted Metaphors: Complicating the Imagery of Desire in the Targum of the
Song of Songs," Journal for the Study of Judaism 34:3 (2003) 237-273. 2003
"Praying King and Sanctuary of Prayer II: David's Deferment and Temple Dedication in Rabbinic Psalms Commentary (Midrash Tehillim)," Journal of Jewish Studies 53:2 (2002) 298-323. 2002
"Praying King and Sanctuary of Prayer I: David and Temple Origins in Rabbinic Psalms Commentary (Midrash Tehillim)," Journal of Jewish Studies 52:1 (2001) 1-26. 2001
"No Ordinary Lament: Relecture and the Identity of the Distressed in Psalm 22," Harvard Theological Review 93:4 (2000) 301-41. 2000
"Targum of the Song of Songs and the Dynamics of Historical Allegory," in The Interpretation of Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity: Studies in Language and Tradition, ed. Craig A. Evans (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 33; Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and
Christianity 7; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000) 423-45. 2000
"Sanctification of the Divine Name: Targum Neofiti's 'Translation' of Genesis 38:25-26," in The Function of Scripture in Early Jewish and Christian Tradition, ed. Craig Evans and James Sanders (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 154; Studies in Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity 6;
Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998) 206-40. 1998.
Writings for General Audiences
"Rooted in God's Rich Blessings,'" Lutheran Woman Today, September 2007, 36-39. 2007
"Judaism and Christianity," The Lutheran, March 2007, 14-16. 2007
"Understanding Our Relations with Judaism and Jews," in Windows for Understanding: Jewish-Muslim-Lutheran Relations, http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/interreligious/windows.html 2006;
"Faculty Dialogue on 'Peace Not Walls: Stand for Justice in the Holy Land,'" with Harold Vogelaar," LSTC Epistle, 35:3 (2005) 13-14, and 35:4 (2006) 13-14. 2005-06
"The Gospel and Interfaith Understanding: How Do We Hold Them Together?" Currents in Mission and Theology 32:4 (2005) 256-63. 2005
"Taking Stock at Mid-Career: Challenges and Opportunities for Faculty at Theological Schools," co-authored with Karen Baker-Fletcher, David Carr, and Nancy Ramsey, in Teaching Theology and Religion 8:1 (2005) 3-10. 2005
"Critical Incident #6: Facing War: Engaging Pedagogy," case study on the LSTC Faculty 2002 Memorial Day Resolution, in "Taken with Surprise: Critical Incidents in Teaching," Teaching Theology and Religion 8:1 (2005). 2005
"Sexuality in the Old Testament: Strong as Death, Unquenchable as Fire," in Currents in Theology and Mission 30:1 (2003) 37-45. 2003
"Statement of Concern in Anticipation of the Release of the Film 'The Passion of Christ'" co-authored by ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations, released December 3, 2003.
"Talking Points: Issues in Jewish-Christian Relations," set of eight discussion pamphlets, co-authored by ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations, available at: http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/interfaithrelations/jewish/talkingpoints/index.html