Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, best known for her "God of the Breasts" interpretation of El Shaddai, spent her 44-year professional career teaching college level English literature and language, but developed specializations in feminist theology and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender theology during the second half of that career.
She was born in Philadelphia's Temple University Hospital on January 28, 1932; married Frederick H. Mollenkott on June 17, 1954; had a son, Paul F. Mollenkott, on July 3, 1958; and was divorced in July 1973. She earned her B.A. from fundamentalist Bob Jones University in 1953; her M.A. at Temple University in 1955; her Ph.D. at New York University in 1964; and received an honorary Doctorate in Ministries from Samaritan College in 1989. She chaired the English Department at Shelton College, Ringwood, New Jersey, from 1955–1963 and at Nyack College, from 1963-1967. She then taught at William Paterson University from 1967 to 1997, chairing the English Department from 1972–1976 and since 1997 holding the position of Professor of English Emeritus.
Dr. Mollenkott served as an assistant editor of Seventeenth Century News from 1965–1975; as a stylistic consultant for the New International Version of the Bible for the American Bible Society from 1970–1978; as a member of the translation committee for An Inclusive Language Lectionary for the National Council of Churches from 1980–1988; on the Board of Pacem in Terris, Warwick, New York, from 1980–1990; on the Board of the Upper Room AIDS Ministry, Harlem, New York, from 1989–1994; on the Board of Kirkridge Retreat and Conference Center, Bangor, PA, from 1980–1991; on the Advisory Board of the Program on Gender and Society at the Rochester (New York) Divinity School from 1993–1996; as a manuscript evaluator for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion from 1994 to the present; as a contributing editor to The Witness from 1994 to 2000; and as a contributing editor to The Other Side from 2003-2007. She has delivered hundreds of guest lectures on feminist and LGBT theologies at churches, conferences, universities and seminaries throughout the United States.
Mollenkott's books include Adamant and Stone Chips, 1967; In Search of Balance, 1969; Women, Men and the Bible, 1977 (revised and updated in 1988; Korean translation in 1981); Speech, Silence Action, 1980; Is the Homosexual My Neighbor: A Positive Christian Response, 1978 (with Letha Dawson Scanzoni; revised and updated in 1994; won the Integrity Award, 1979); The Divine Feminine: Biblical Imagery of God as Female, 1983 (published in German, 1985; in French, 1990; and in Italian, 1993); Views from the Intersection, 1984 (with Catherine Barry); Godding; Human Responsibility and the Bible, 1987; Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism, 1982 (revised and expanded, 2008); Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach, 2001 (revised and updated, 2007; won the Lambda Literary Award, 2002; and the Ben Franklin Award, 2002); and Transgender Journeys, 2003 (with Vanessa Sheridan).
Dr. Mollenkott also edited a book of spiritual poems, Adam Among the Television Trees, 1971; and a volume of inter-religious dialogue, Women of Faith in Dialogue, 1987. Since 1997 she has served on the editorial board of Studies in Theology and Sexuality, based in the United Kingdom.
In 1992 Dr. Mollenkott received the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Achievement Award, and in 1999 was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from SAGE (Senior Action in a Gay Environment).
She has been a lifetime member of the Modern Language Association, where she served on the Executive Committee of Religion and Literature from 1976–1980; and a lifetime member of the Milton Society of America, serving on the executive committee from 1974-1976. She has published dozens of articles in scholarly and literary journals as well as church-related publications, and is an active founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus, better known as Christian Feminism Today.
A Democrat and trans-religious Christian, Dr. Mollenkott lives with her domestic partner Judith Suzannah Tilton at Cedar Crest Retirement Village; together they co-grandmother Virginia's three granddaughters. Dr. Mollenkott's archives are available at The Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at the Pacific School of Religion.
- Transgender Journeys (2003, Pilgrim Press; reprinted 2010, Wipf & Stock), co-authored with Vanessa Sheridan
- Fourth chapter of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion (2004), edited by Ann Braude.
- Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach (Pilgrim Press, 2001) — winner of the 2002 Lambda Literary Award
- Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? (1978; rev. 1994, Harper SF), co-authored with Letha Dawson Scanzoni
- Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism (1992, rev. 2008, Pilgrim Press)
- The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female (1983, reprinted 2014, Wipf & Stock)
Out of print, limited availability:
- Women, Men, and the Bible (1977; rev. 1988)
- Godding: Human Responsibility and the Bible (1987)
- Women of Faith in Dialogue (1987) essays by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women, ed. V. Mollenkott
- Gender Diversity and Christian Community (2005)
- Speech, Silence, Action: The Cycle of Faith (1980)
- Views from the Intersection (1984) with poems by Catherine Barry
- Adam Among the Television Trees (1971)
- In Search of Balance (1969)
- Adamant and Stone Chips (1967)