Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gale Yee lectures on Methods of Biblical Interpretation

Two Divine Word Seminary students present to
Prof. Gale Yee an art work as token of gratitude
for her provocative yet substantial lecture

The academic community hosted a symposium on "Methods of Biblical Interpretation" last July 21, 2006 (Friday 9:00 - 11:00 AM) at the Aula Magna. The keynote was speaker was Professor Gale Yee of the Episcopal Divinity School (Cambridge). She is around as the invited keynote speaker of the Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines (CBAP) annual convention held at Phinma Convention Center (located at Kabangaan, a barrio of Silang, Cavite but near Sungay in Tagaytay). Professor Yee's moderator for her doctoral dissertation was then Fr. Anthony Ceresko.

The student-seminarians, professors, and religious sisters and brothers around Tagaytay came over to listen to Professor Yee's lecture who proposed to read the bible as a site of stuggle especially of competing ideologies, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and social classes.
W. Villegas, NT professor, raises a question
at the open forum as W. Saniel, DWS rector, listens

Here's the introduction of the speaker which this blogger had delivered:

If the late Fr. Tony Ceresko were here today, he would have… laughed at us, just like Jesus in the Gospel of Judas, who was always laughing.

"One day" says the Gospel of Judas, "Jesus was with his disciples… and he found them gathered together and seated training their piety [just like what we’re doing today].” When he approached his disciples and saw what they were doing, he laughed."

That laughter was meant to show that Jesus knew what his disciples were trying to know. That should be what Fr. Ceresko is doing right now--laughing, as he looks at us trying to "understand all mysteries and all knowledge" (1 Cor 13:2) embedded in the text we call Scripture "for now what we see in a mirror, dimly, he now sees face to face." (1 Cor 13:12).

So for us who are "poor banished children of eve" will still have to wrestle with this sacred text as we continue to inhabit this "valley of tears." That’s actually the title of the most recent book of our keynote speaker Poor Banished Children of Eve subtitled Woman as Evil in the Hebrew Bible (2003). She applies "ideological criticism" to understand the portrait of women as moral evil and its connection with the problem of gender, race and ethnicity in the stories of Eve in Genesis; Faithless Israel in Hosea; the Two Sisters in Ezekiel; and the Other Woman in Proverbs.

This is a study that brought the author to conclude that "gender conflicts in ancient Israel could be deflected forms of class conflict—the struggles between the king and peasants are deflected to men and women" (from back cover). It’s something then like the conflict between the Spanish colonizers and the Filipinos were deflected in the conflicts between the mad woman Sisa and the Spanish friars and soldiers in the famous Jose Rizal’s novel: Noli Me Tangere.

Nonetheless this book was one of the last books Fr. Ceresko gave to me for free, (after his death, I inherited all his books), and was proud to inform me that it was written by one of his outstanding former students called professor Gale Yee.

In 1985, at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, Professor defended her doctoral dissertation on the Composition and Tradition in the Book of Hosea under the direction of Fr. Ceresko.

As mentioned earlier, Professor Yee uses "ideological criticism" as an approach to understand the biblical text. In Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, a book she edited in 1995, she writes: Ideological criticism presumes that the text is a production of a specific, ideologically charged historical world that (2) reproduces a particular ideology with an internal logic of its own” (p. 149).

In reading a text, one must be conscious of the mode of the production dominant in the society producing the text and at the same time identify the ways the ideology is communicated and legitimized. This approach and related terms such as tributary mode of production, social struggle, egalitarian society, Norman Gottwald’s social revolution model, and the like are not strange concepts us especially to the former students of Fr. Ceresko.

Professor Gale Yee was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 9, 1949. She attended the Academy of Our Lady (Catholic) high school graduating in 1967. She received a BA in 1971 from Loyola University of Chicago, a Jesuit college, and continued at that University receiving her MA in 1974. She studied for the PhD in Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. While at St Michael’s she was instructor for the Introduction to Old Testament course.

She taught at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, where she was Director of Women’s Studies from 1984 until 1998. Starting in 1998 she has taught at Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is the EDS Director of Studies in Feminist Liberation Theologies there.

During the academic year 2002-2003 she was Visiting Scholar at Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 2004, upon the strong recommendation of Professor Amy Jill Levine, the Board of Trustees of the CBAP invited her to be the keynote speaker in this year’s convention.

Gale Yee, Helen Graham (Maryknoll sister)
and Lina Rong (doctoral student)
pose before the mysterious and enchanting
Taal Lake and Taal Volcano

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