Augsburg Fortress

Practicing Exile: The Religious Odyssey of an American Jew

Practicing Exile: The Religious Odyssey of an American Jew

Faith and struggle, pain and promise

As a post-Holocaust Jewish thinker, Marc Ellis inhabits the land between homes that we call exile. In this intensely personal work he explores how the religious landscape looks from the perspective of an exile — and how religious searching continually leads away from the domestic comforts of received Jewish and Christian platitudes and into new struggles for religious authenticity.

At once a memoir and an examination of conscience, Ellis' autobiographical starting points spark reflections on Jewish-Christian relations, liberation theology, religion and politics, and issues of justice in Israel and Palestine. His experiences also occasion meditations on solitude and solidarity, gratitude and alienation, memory and responsibilty. They exemplify how religiously committed persons, though exiled forever from yesterday's certitudes, can yet practice covenantal fidelity.

In the end, for Ellis and for the reader, there is no going back. Exile is not simply a fact; it is a religious imperative. "At stake is the integrity of the religious search as a truly ecumenical adventure."
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800634438
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 180
  • Publication Date November 12, 2001


"In his latest book Marc Ellis reflects on his own exile and religious journey as an American Jew....Ellis' vision and journey are distinctively his own....Yet his is also an exile in which a new covenant community, however impermanent, is tasted."
— Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

"As a traditional, even evangelical, Christian, I should have many reasons to be uncomfortable with Mark Ellis' appeals, but I am deeply moved and affected in lasting ways. He is convincing..."
— Wes Avram, Yale Divinity School


Excerpt from the Preface

The rich creativity of the thought of these medieval women is providing Christians in the twenty-first century with new insights into Christian faith and into the medieval world as well. We are amazed at the range and complexity of female imagery in their work. Female images inform their understanding of God, the creation and redemption of the universe, the fecundity of nature, and the relation of the self to God. Such a range of female symbolism belongs more to the mystical than the scholastic tradition and was particularly developed by women mystics. Without these writings our understanding of the possibilities of feminine symbolism in Christianity would remain unknown to most Christians.

How did such women manage to write at all, much less have their writings preserved so that we can delight in their insights today? Officially medieval Christianity saw women as secondary in nature and sinful through their primacy in the Fall, therefore to be denied any public voice as teachers in the church. Yet the church also preserved the tradition that women were equally capable of holiness and might be empowered by the Holy Spirit as prophets to teach the church. This view of the Holy Spirit as an "equal opportunity employer" allowed medieval women to rupture the limits placed upon them and proclaim their visions boldly. ...