Professor Melissa Raphael

Professor Melissa Raphael



As well as teaching at Leo Baeck College in the areas of modern Jewish thought and Jewish responses to evil and suffering, Melissa Raphael is Professor Emerita, Jewish Theology, at the University of Gloucestershire and an Associate Lecturer at the University of Chichester.  She has been the Sherman Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester; the Hussey Lecturer in the Church and the Arts at the University of Oxford, and the British Government’s Foreign Office delegate to the International Task Force on Holocaust Remembrance and Research.


Professor Raphael is the author of numerous articles and books.  Her books include Thealogy and Embodiment: The Post-Patriarchal Reconstruction of Female Sacrality (Sheffield Academic Press, 1996); Rudolf Otto and the Concept of Holiness (Oxford University Press, 1997); The Female Face of God in Auschwitz:  A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust (Routledge, 2003), Judaism and the Visual Image: A Jewish Theology of Art (Continuum, 2009), and Religion, Feminism and Idoloclasm: Being and Becoming in the Women’s Liberation Movement (Routledge, 2019).


Professor Raphael’s research interests are in the areas of religion and gender, feminist theology, post-Holocaust theology, Jewish art, and the problem of idolatry.

As well as giving invited lectures in universities here and abroad, a selection of her publications since 2000 include:

‘Are Jews Commanded to Love Planet Earth’, in Paul Fiddes ed., Loving the Planet: Love, Religion and Ecology, Oxford, Firedint Publishing, 2022 forthcoming.


‘Judaism’s Commandment to Love: “A Well-Tempered Banality” or the Messianic Trumpet’s Blast?’, reprinted by permission in Paul Fiddes ed., Love as Common Ground: Essays on Love in Religion, Lanham, Boulder, New York and London, Lexington Books, 2021, 101-121.


Jewish Feminist Liberation Theology and the Modern Criticism of Idols’ in

Alon Goshen-Gottschein ed., Contemporary Essays on Idolatry/Avoda Zara,

London, Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming, 2022.


‘Trauma, Nostalgia and the Numinous: The Reception of Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige in Twentieth-Century Jewish Thought’, in Gregory Alles and Ulrich Rosenhagen eds., Rudolf Otto and the Holy in a Pluralistic World, Sheffield, Equinox, 2022. 


’The Why and How of a Gynocentric Theology of the Holocaust: An Autobiographical Essay’, in Judith Tydor-Baumel and Dalia Ofer eds., Her Story, My Story? Writing About Women and the Holocaust. Bern: Peter Lang Publishers, 2020, 175-186.


‘Was Woman Created in the Image of God, Or Did God, in Genesis 2, Create the World’s First Idol?  A Jewish Feminist Response to Claudia Welz’s Humanity in God’s Image’, Syndicate, 2019.


‘The Impact of Gender on Jewish Religious Thought. Exemplar: Jewish Feminist Theology’, Melilah: Manchester 13, 2019, pp. 31-35.

Jewish and Christian Theology Saving the Idolised Female Face’ in Practical Theology 10 (2017), in a roundtable review of Stephen Pattison’s Saving Face, 313-329.

‘The Creation of Beauty by its Destruction: Idoloclasm in Modern and Contemporary Jewish Art’Approaching Religion, 6 (2016), 14-22.


‘Feminist Theorizations of Evil’, in The History of Evil from the Mid-Twentieth Century to Today, vol. VI in the History of Evil, ed., Jerome Gellman, Chad Meister, Charles Taliaferro et al., Abingdon, Oxon., and New York: Routledge, 2019.


‘Idoloclasm: The First Task of Second Wave Liberal Jewish Feminism’, Melilah (Atheism, Scepticism and Challenges to Monotheism), Vol. 12 (2015), pp. 110-121.


‘Antidotes to Captivation and Spell-Bound Forgetting: The Counter-Idolatrous Figure of the Human in Modern Jewish Theology and Art’, in Claudia Welz ed. Ethics of In-Visibility: Imago Dei, Memory, and Human Dignity in Jewish and Christian Thought, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015, pp. 101-117.


8000 word article on ‘Judaism and Visual Art’ for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, published by Oxford University Press, New York.  Online publication in 2015.


Divine Glory Danced: Jewish Migration as God’s Self-Revelation in and as Art’, in Elaine Padilla and Peter Phan (eds.) Theology of Migration in the Abrahamic Religions (New York, Palgrave McMillan, 2014), pp. 47-62.


‘Judaism’s Critique of Idolatry and the Beginning of Liberative Religion’, in Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Christopher Lewis (eds.), Sensible Religion, Ashgate, 2014, pp, 25-39.


‘A Patrimony of Idols: Second-Wave Jewish and Christian Feminist Theology and the Criticism of Religion’, in Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Tradition, 53 (2014) 241-259.


‘Feminism in Judaism’, in Anne Runehov and Luis Oviedo eds., The Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions (Dordrecht and New York: Axel Springer, 2013) [online].


‘Judaism’s Commandment to Love: ‘A Well-Tempered Banality’ or the Messianic Trumpet’s Blast?, in Bentzion Cohen, (ed.), For a Perennial Spring: Festschrift in honour of Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm, Former President of Yeshiva University, New York, 2013, pp. 361-377.


‘Gender, Idolatry and Numinous Experience: A Feminist Theological Approach to Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy’ in Jörg Lauster, Peter Schüz, Roderich Barth, and Christian Danz (eds.), Rudolf Otto: Theologie – Religionsphilosophie – Religionsgeschichte, Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2013, pp. 251-262.


‘Idolatry and Fixation: Modern Jewish Thought and the Prophetic Criticism of the Cosmetically and Technologically Perfected Female Face in Contemporary Popular Culture’, in The International Journal of Public Theology, 7 (2013), pp. 135–156.


‘Can Seeing a Jewish Woman’s Face be Like Seeing the Face of God?:

The Impossibility of the Female Jewish Sublime in 20th Century Jewish Art’, in Julie Clague and Shulamit Reinharz (eds.), Jews, Jewishness and the Arts (book manuscript under review).


‘Feminist Theology and the Jewish Tradition’, in Mary McClintock Fulkerson and Sheila Briggs (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 51-72.


‘From the Ruins of History: The Modern Jewish Pariah as an Agent of the Messianic New Beginning’, Trumah: Zeitschrift der Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg, 20 (2011) 31-49.


‘From Historiography to Theography: Reflections on the Role of Theological Aesthetics in The Female Face of God in Auschwitz’ in Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History 15 (2011), 47-56, (a special issue of the journal presenting articles on my book The Female Face of God in Auschwitz).


Ananei-kavod/ Clouds of Glory: Towards a Jewish Feminist Theology of Female Beauty’, Yearbook of the European Society of Women in Theological Research 18 (2010) 31-42.


‘Gender’, in John Corrigan ed., The Oxford Handbook of Religious Emotion, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2008, 181-200.


‘’Witnesses to Presence: Reading Jewish Women’s Holocaust Testimonies as Holy Texts’ in The 12th Yearbook of the European Society of Women in Theological Research, Amsterdam, Peeters, 2006, pp. 103-114.


‘Standing at a Demythologised Sinai?: Reading Jewish Feminist Theology Through the Critical lens of Radical Orthodoxy’ in Rosemary Ruether and Marion Grau (eds.) Interpreting the Postmodern: Responses to ‘Radical Orthodoxy’, (New York and London: T. & T. Clark, 2006), pp. 197-214.


‘Judaism and the Gendering of Violence’, in Linda Hogan (ed.) Religions, Peace and War, Wipf & Stock, 2006.


‘The Mystery of the Slashed Nose and the Empty Box: Towards a Theology of Jewish Art’ Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 1 (2006), pp. 1-19.


‘The Kiss of the Shekhinah: Narratives of Divine and Human Motherhood in the Holocaust’ Temenos 1 (2006), pp. 93-110.


‘Judaism and Gender’, in Lindsay Jones (ed. in chief) Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition (New York: Macmillan, 2005).


‘Thealogy’, in Lindsay Jones (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition (New York: Macmillan, 2005).


‘Menstruation’, in Lindsay Jones (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition (New York: Macmillan, 2005).


‘Patriarchy and Matriarchy’, in Lindsay Jones (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition (New York: Macmillan, 2005).


‘The Price of (Masculine) Freedom and Becoming: A Feminist Response to Eliezer Berkovits’s Post-Holocaust Free Will Defence of God’s Non-Intervention in Auschwitz’ in Pamela Sue Anderson and Beverley Clack (eds.) Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. 136-150.


‘From Women’s History to Feminist Theology: Gender, Witness and Canonicity in the Religious Narration of the Holocaust’ in Ursula King and Tina Beattie (eds.) Gender, Religion and Diversity: New Perspectives (London and New York: Continuum, 2004), pp. 101-112.


‘Holiness in extremis: Jewish Women’s Resistance to the Profane in Auschwitz’ in Stephen Barton (ed.) Holiness Past and Present (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2003), pp. 381-401.


‘Is Patriarchal Theology Still Patriarchal? Reading Theologies of the Holocaust from a Jewish Feminist Perspective’, Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion 18 (2002), pp. 105-13.


‘”Refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love” (Song of Songs 2:5): Jewish Feminism, Mystical Theology and the Sexual Imaginary’, in L. Isherwood (ed.), The Good News of the Body Feminist Explorations in the Religious Construction of Female Sexuality (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001) pp. 54-72.


‘The Face of God in Every Generation: Jewish Feminist Spirituality and the Legend of the Thirty-Six Hidden Saints’, in U. King (ed.), Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001), pp. 234-246.


‘False Goddesses: Thealogical Reflections on the Patriarchal Cult of Diana, Princess of Wales’ in W. Griffin (ed.), Daughters of the Goddess: Studies of Healing, Identity and Empowerment (Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press, 2000) pp. 89-102.


‘Monotheism in Contemporary Goddess Religion: A Betrayal of Early Thealogical Non-Realism?’ in D. Sawyer and D. Collier (eds.), Is There a Future for Feminist Theology?  (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), pp. 139-149.


‘” I will be who I will be”: The Representation of God in Postmodern Jewish Feminist Theology and Contemporary Religious Education’, British Journal of Religious Education, 21 (1999), pp. 69-79.


‘When God Beheld God: Notes Towards a Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust’, Feminist Theology 21 (1999), pp. 53-78.


‘When God Beheld God: Notes Towards a Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust’ and excerpts from The Female Face of God in Auschwitz reprinted in:


  • D. Cohn-Sherbok (ed.) Holocaust Theology: A Reader (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2002), pp. 245-248.
  • S. Frank Parsons (ed.) Challenging Women’s Orthodoxies in the Context of Faith, Heythrop Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, Religion and Theology, (Aldershot and Burlington USA: Ashgate Press, 2000), pp. 73-88.
  • Reprinted and translated into German for Schlangenbrut, (2004).
  • Steven Katz (ed.) Wrestling With God: Jewish Theological Responses During and After the Holocaust, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).