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Source: Robert Linder, 785-532-0372,

Monday, Oct. 5, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Was Jesus the first feminist? That's a topic that Ben Witherington III, a professor at the Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., will discuss as part of the first presentation in Kansas State University's new Fred L. Parrish Lecture Series.

Witherington's lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, in the banquet room at the K-State Alumni Center. It is free and open to the public.

One of today's leading authorities on the history of early Christianity, Witherington will discuss early feminism and issues concerning the role of women at the dawn of what would become the Christian faith. His presentation will address not only the history of women in first-century Christian history, but also the various myths and misunderstandings of the place of women in the movement.

Witherington earned his bachelor's in English from the University of North Carolina, a Master of Divinity in church history from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and a doctorate in New Testament history from the University of Durham in England. He currently serves on the doctoral faculties of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and Brunel University in London. He has taught at Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and has lectured at various university and theological schools in England, Estonia, Russia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He is the author of more than 40 books and is currently general editor of the New Cambridge University Press Bible Commentary Series.

The Fred L. Parrish Lecture Series is named in honor of Fred Louis Parrish, a former longtime history professor at K-State. The series will feature a biennial address by a leading figure in the field of religious history and continue Parrish's tradition of fostering the free exchange of ideas and insights in a communal setting. The lecture series replaces the Parrish Colloquium, which was established in 1984 by Parrish's daughter and son-in-law, Ethelinda Parrish Amos and Wendell Amos. It was created to honor Parrish's role in bringing lively discussion of history and religion in the Manhattan community.

Parrish earned his doctorate in the history of religion at Yale University in 1923, and served as head of the department of history, government and philosophy at K-State -- then known as Kansas State Agricultural College -- from 1942 until his retirement in 1958. He was well known on campus and in the Manhattan community as an avid conversationalist. Parrish was for many years the guiding light for the local Conversation Club, which met monthly to discuss and debate new creative and controversial ideas in religious history.

More information on Witherington's presentation is available by contacting the K-State department of history at 785-532-6730.