Skip to main content

Mary Boys

By Barbara A. Fears (Howard University School of Divinity)

Catholic

 

Mary Boys, Ed.D. (1947– ) is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology (1994– ) and former Vice-President and Dean of Academic Affairs (2013–2019) at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Contrary to her elementary school instruction, Mary believed that many types of people went to heaven. This childhood conviction created a compassionate curiosity about the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and inspired Mary to create an extensive body of work in interreligious engagement primarily, but not exclusively between these two faith traditions. In addition, Mary has made significant contributions to religious education in the areas of pedagogy, feminism, Catholicism and Christianity, which both standalone and intersect to inform her scholarship on interreligious dialogue. She has written, co-written and edited numerous books, monographs and journal articles on the theory and practice of ministry, inter-religious dialogue, and religious education.

Over the course of her illustrious career in theological education as both as educator and administrator, Mary has written numerous articles, books and book chapters, facilitated and co-facilitated many conference presentations and served as an industry consultant, principle investigator, visiting lecturer, association president, and journal editor. Mary has a Doctor of Education from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary (1978) and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (2004), Catholic Theological Union (2006), The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2011), and Gratz College (2012). She is a vowed member of a congregation of Roman Catholic women, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and she continues to be a mentor and friend to current and to former students.

Biography

Mary was born in Seattle, Washington, on November 4, 1947. She is the older of two children born to Ruth Wegner Boys and Milford C. Boys. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom until her younger brother was in high school. She then returned to work as a bank teller, which had been her former career path until becoming pregnant with Mary, and consequently forced to quit working according to the societal norms and expectations of that time. Her father, who worked as a salesman until drafted into the army, worked as a civil employee for the General Services Administration.

Mary enjoyed a relatively carefree childhood, engaging in athletic programs open to girls of her era – volleyball, softball, and basketball. Her lower middle-class Queen Anne Hill neighborhood was religiously mixed, consisting of persons identifying as Protestant and non-affiliated (interview 2/13/20). In fact, Mary’s father was not religiously affiliated. He was, however, as Mary describes him, “a gentle man of great integrity and moral character,” who shaped her religious views and values, and lifelong love of sports. The paternal side of the family lived in the Midwest, and the distance meant that contact was primarily through letters and phone calls. Mary’s mother, maternal grandmother, and aunts, on the other hand, were practicing Catholics (interview 2/13/20).

In her co-written book, Christians & Jews in Dialogue, with Sara Lee, professor emerita at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles, Mary reports that she is a “baby boomer” who grew up in the era of the Latin Mass, and was therefore schooled in the “Baltimore Catechism” (about which she wrote in Educating in Faith). As such, Gregorian chants, processions, and May altars were part of the Catholic culture as was a philosophical understanding of Catholicism as standing over against the world and opposing anything perceived as liberal. Her Catholic identity was formed partially in the context of theological doctrines that viewed Catholicism as the “one, true faith.” Religious others conveniently fit under the rubric “non-Catholic” (Boys 2006, 41). Yet even as a child, Mary questioned the religious discourse that suggested persons must be Christian or Catholic to attain salvation. Mary says, “I could never believe in a heaven that would not include my father…I am grateful for the cognitive dissonance instigated in my childhood by the various neighbors, family members, and friends of moral integrity who belonged to other Christian denominations – or none at all” (Boys 2006, 42). Family also included a very close Jewish friend who was like an aunt to Mary.

Mary names two events from her high school years that were significant contributors to her embrace of diversity: The Civil Rights Movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church (1962-65). She recalls watching coverage of the Movement on television and the classroom where she first read King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. At the time, she had high hopes for racial reconciliation across America. However, in retrospect she realizes how naïve she was and wishes she had been able to be more explicitly supportive of her classmates of color. It was only years later that she learned about the racist policies and biases in the history of the Pacific Northwest (interview 2/13/20). In sum, Mary found both the Civil Rights Movement and the Second Vatican Council liberating.

The declarations of Vatican II had a significant and immediately impactful effect. For example, one declaration from the Second Vatican Council in particular awakened Catholics to spiritual truths in other religious traditions. Vatican II opened study of the Bible in the Catholic Church in a way that had a profound effect on Mary. Moreover, it paved the way for deepened interreligious relations. In its declaration Nostra Aetate, the Council stated, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She [the church] regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the one she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men [and women] (Boys 2006, 44). This new declaration granted Catholics permission to acknowledge that they alone no longer possessed the one absolute spiritual truth, which opened the door to seeing elements of truth in other faith traditions. Vatican II also encouraged members of religious communities to ponder their origins and mission to renew their service to the church and world. Mary’s community embarked on years of self-study and renewal that she has found liberating and revitalizing.

Inspired by Vatican II and attracted to the intellectual liveliness of the sisters teaching at her Seattle high school, (interview 2/13/20), Mary entered the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in August 1965, professing temporary vows in February 1968 and her final vows in June 1972. Although her parents did not immediately embrace her teenage choice to join a religious community, they did honor Mary’s decision (Boys 2006, 45), and enjoyed warm friendships with many of Mary’s community members.

Mary graduated from Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in 1969 with a double major in religion and humanities. After graduation, she taught English and religion at Holy Names Academy in Spokane, Washington, where she “fell in love with teaching at her first appointment and remains in touch with some of her students to this day” (interview 2/13/20). She says that teaching is the most significant way that she learns: first, from the class preparation process and second, from the interactions that occurred with students and with other faculty members (Boys 2006, 49). Mary also became dean of students at the high school before departing for New York City for graduate school for advanced studies in religion and education.

In 1974 she entered a joint doctoral program between Union Theological Seminary and Teachers College, Columbia University. Studies in New Testament and hermeneutics under the mentorship of the distinguished Fr. Raymond E. Brown led to her interest in learning a more complex narrative about Christian origins in relation to Judaism. Believing that Christianity had an ethical obligation to understand this historical and complex relationship, salvation history (Heilsgeschichte) became the subject of her dissertation, which was later published as Biblical Interpretation in Religious Education (Boys 2014, 108). While writing her dissertation, Boston College hired her for a tenure- track position in theology and education, where she began teaching as an Instructor in 1978. Her scholarship focused on Bible as well as on foundational issues and questions in the field of religion and education. (interview 2/13/20); her first article on Christian-Jewish relations appeared in 1981, “’Questions that Touch on the Heart of our Faith.’”

Mary found her seventeen years at Boston College immensely enriching, particularly in the graduate Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry where she interacted with some wonderful students, many of whom were drawn by the spirit of Vatican II. Shortly after she was promoted to full professor in February 1994, she accepted an appointment to Union Theological Seminary, a historically Protestant and now ecumenical graduate school known for racial and ethnic diversity, where she was named the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology. And served a six-year stint as Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. Although Mary reports that she did not originally set out to work in an ecumenical and interreligious context, she yet considers it one of the great graces of her life (Boys 2006, 55), particularly the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, just across the street from Union.

In fact, teaching remains her passion whether doing so through the spoken or written word. According to Mary, even her best writing comes from teaching: “If I am stuck in writing, I ask myself how I would teach this concept” (interview, 2/13/20). While she does not consider herself to be a biblical scholar per se, she does wed these two great loves, teaching and bible; they permeate her courses and her publications. She considers it important to make the bible and the interpretive process accessible in the church as a way of helping persons to understand not only the texts in context, but also to grasp the reasons for the changes in the churches’ posture particularly toward the Jews (Boys 2006, 59).

Works Cited

  • Boys, M. C. 2020. Phone Interview, February 13.
  • Boys, M. C. (2014, Winter). Doing Justice to Judaism: The Challenge of Christianity: Journal of Ecumenical Studies 49(1): 107-110.
  • Boys, M. C. and Lee, S. S. (2006). Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing.

Contributions to Christian Education

Prof. Mary Boys has made significant contributions to interrelated areas within religious education namely pedagogy, feminism, Catholicism and Christianity, these contributions are most apparent her scholarship on interreligious dialogue. For example, she is convinced that good teaching lies at the heart of religious education (Boys 1984, 253). She sees teaching as a profoundly relational art that requires challenging persons to think for themselves and doing so in non-threatening ways. Mary writes, “To face our history means being affected by the wounds Christianity has inflicted on the Jewish people throughout the centuries. This requires a willingness to be attentive to disturbing truths about one’s own tradition—a vulnerability that refuses defensiveness in the face of disquieting truths (Boys 2013, 99). Likewise, she insists that it is time Christian feminists to draw upon the scholarship of Jewish-Christian dialogue in give voice to the liberating power of the Gospel (Boys 2003, 60). In other words, the great breadth of Mary’s prolific scholarship integrates in its consistent commitment to dialogue and to holding the sins of the past, especially of Christians toward our Jewish brothers and sisters.

The consequences of her approach to theological education are immeasurable. Perhaps they can be broadly summarized as follows: healing old wounds by correcting long-held misunderstandings of Judaism’s relationship to the Catholic and Protestant understanding of Christian salvation, the importance of cultural contexts past and present in interpreting the biblical text, the role of the teacher in creating a safe, but challenging learning environments by asking probing questing for critical for reflection; her inviting and deeply respectful engagement with differing religious tradition. Mary is a feminist Catholic scholar committed to competent biblical interpretation that is attentive to the original text and context as well as to contemporary cultural praxis in theological education and the church. She engages both the head and the heart of people of faith particularly on the subject of her childhood conviction that became her life’s calling – surely more than Catholics can go to heaven.

Mary wrote her first article on Jewish-Christian engagement in 1981, “Question Which Touch on the Heart of Faith,” which combined pedagogy and interreligious engagement. She first noted that the essence of good teaching lies in the ability to pose good questions (Boys 1981, 636). She then offered seven foundational concepts for understanding Christianity’s relationship with Judaism. Since that time, she has published more articles and monographs including two books, Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self Understanding (2000) in which she deconstructs supersessionism and Redeeming Our Sacred Story The Death of Jesus and The Relations Between Jews and Christians (2013) in which she explicates the crucifixion story without casting blaming upon the Jewish community.

During a 1983 Sabbatical, Mary spent a semester at the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research at Tantur on Jerusalem’s southern boundary. This opportunity enabled Mary to have the experience of being a minority member of the religious landscape and to see first-hand the complexities of Middle-East politics including the Arab-Israeli relationship and the importance of the land to the Jewish people (Boys 2006, 52). The insights gained from this experience provided a foundation from which Mary became better able to bridge centuries of mistrust and misinformation between faith communities such that she is a trusted voice in the ecumenical field.


Bibliography

Books

  • Boys, M. C. (2013). Redeeming our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations Between Jews and Christians. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Cunningham, P. A., Sievers, J., Boys, M. C., Henrix, H. and Svartvik J. (Eds) (2011). Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • Boys, M. C. and Lee, S. S. (2006). Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing.
  • Boys, M. C. (Ed) (2005). Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Boys, M. C. (2000). Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1997). Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman’s Experience. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989). Educating in Faith: Maps and Visions. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. Second reprint (2011) Lima, OH: Academic Renewal Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (Ed) (1989). Education for Citizenship and Discipleship. New York, NY: Pilgrim. Korean translation, 1999.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981). Ministry and Education in Conversation. Winona, MN: St. Mary's Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1980). Biblical Interpretation in Religious Education. Birmingham, AL: Religion Education Press.
  • (1964). Sunday School success, (Rev. Ed.). Chicago: Evangelical Teacher Training Institute.

Book Chapters

  • Boys, M. C. (2017). Dare We Hope? In C. Rittner (Ed). The Holocaust and Nostra Aetate: Toward a Greater Understanding pp. 180-192.Greensburg, PA: Seton Hill University National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education.
  • Boys, M. C. (2015). What Nostra Aetate Inaugurated: A Conversion to the ‘Providential Mystery of Otherness. In Schultenover, D. G. (Ed). 50 Years On: Probing the Riches of Vatican II pp. 235-270. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (2015). Learning in the Presence of the Other: My Friendship with Sara S. Lee. In Fredericks, J. and Tiemeier, T. S. (Eds). Interreligious Friendships after Nostra Aetate pp. 9-20. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Boys, M. C. (2014). Feminisms and the Interreligious Encounter. Lipsett, B. D. and Trible, P. (Eds). Faith and Feminisms pp. 103-114. Louisville, KY: Westminster-John Knox.
  • Boys, M. C. (2011). Facing History: the Church and Its Teaching on the Death of Jesus. In Cunningham, P. A. et al (Eds). Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships pp. 31-63. Grand Rapids, MN: Eerdmans.
  • Boys, M. C. (2010). Our Ancestors Would Be Incredulous: Vatican II and the Religious Other. In Daley, M. and Groome, T. (Eds). Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures New and Old pp. 42-46. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.
  • Boys, M. C. (2009). The Altering Effects of Dialogue: A Challenge to the Church. In Hafner, J. E. (Ed). Takt and Tacheles. Festschrift Hanspeter Heinz pp. 63-78. München: Verlag Neue Stadt.
  • Boys, M. C. (2009). The Nostra Aetate Trajectory: Holding our Theological Bow Differently. In Moyaert, M. and Pollefeyt, M. (Eds). Never Revoked: Nostra Aetate as Ongoing Challenge for Jewish-Christian Dialogue pp. 133-157. Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs 40, Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers.
  • Boys, M. C. (2006). Judaism: Christianity’s Partner in Waiting and Working for the Full Redemption of the World. In Lescher, B. H. and Liebert, E. (Eds). Exploring Christian Spirituality: Essays in Honor of Sandra M. Schneiders pp. 161-177. New York, NY/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (2006). The Church Is Marked by Its Relationship with Judaism. Madges, W. and Daley, M. J. (Eds). The Many Marks of the Church pp. 188-193. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
  • Boys, M. C. (2006). Women’s Contributions to Jewish-Christian Relations. In Keller, R. S. and Ruether, R. R. (Eds). Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, vol 3, pp. 1276-1283. Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (2005). Entries on “Biblical interpretation,” “Ecclesia/synagoga,” “Feminism and feminist writings,” “Holocaust education” and “Religious education” and “Civil Society.” In Kessler, E and Wenborn, N (Eds). Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Centre for the Study of Jewish Christian Relations.
  • Boys, M. C. (2005). The Enduring Covenant. In Boys, M. C. (Ed). Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation pp. 17-28. Lanham: MD.
  • Boys, M. C. (2005). Remembering the Shoah: A Theological and Educational Challenge. In McSharry, K. (Ed). Teaching the Holocaust in Catholic Schools pp. 3-8. Greensburgh, PA: Seton Hill University.
  • Boys, M. C. (2005). Why Do We Need Jesus? Isn’t God Enough? In Barker, G. A. (Ed). Jesus in the World’s Faiths: Leading Thinkers from Five Religions Reflect on His Meaning pp. 66-74. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). The Covenant in Contemporary Ecclesial Documents. In Korn, E. B. and Pawlinkowski, J. T. (Eds). Two Faiths, One Covenant? Jewish and Christian Identity in the Presence of the Other pp. 81-110. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). Educating for a Faith that Feels and Thinks. In Cunningham, P. A. (Ed). Pondering the Passion: What’s at Stake for Christians and Jews? pp.181-192. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism: A Complicated Convergence. In Borowsky, I. J. (Ed). Defining New Christian/Jewish Dialogue pp. 47-62. New York: Crossroad, 2004.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). Die Straße bahnt sich beim Gehen. In Heinz, H. (Ed) and trans. Forum Christen und Juden. Um Gottes willen miteinander verbunden pp.142-145. Band 1. Münster: Lit Verlag.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). Redeeming ‘Gospel Feminism’ from Anti-Judaism. In Foley E. and Schreiter, R. (Eds). The Wisdom of Creation pp. 24-36. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). The Bold and Gracious Vision of Irving Greenberg. Greenberg, I. (Ed). For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity pp. 259-262. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society.
  • Boys, M.C. (2004). What We Saw at the Movies. In Burnham, J. (Ed). Perspectives on The Passion of the Christ: Religious Thinkers and Writers Explore the Issues Raised by the Controversial Movie pp. 147-163. New York, NY: Miramax Books.
  • Boys, M. C. (2003). The Road Is Made by Walking. In Merkle, J. C. (Ed). Faith Transformed: Christian Encounters with Jews and Judaism pp. 162-181. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
  • Boys, M. C. and Lee, S. S. Afterword. (2001). In Sandmel, D. F. (Ed). Irreconcilable Differences: A Learning Resource for Jews and Christians (pp.193-201). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1998). Beyond ‘Removing’ Anti-Judaism: The Theological and Educational Task of Reframing Christian Identity. In Kee, H. C. and Borowsky, I. J. (Eds). Removing the AntiJudaism from the New Testament pp 88-102. Philadelphia, PA: American Interfaith Institute/World Alliance.
  • Boys, M. C. (1995). Jesus through the Ages: Perspectives from the Cross. In Athans, M. C. (Ed). Proceedings of the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning 10 pp 13-22. St. Paul: MN: University of St. Thomas.
  • Boys, M. C. (1995). Kerygmatic Theology and Religious Education. In Miller, R. C. (Ed). Theologies of Religious Education pp 230-254. Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1993). A More Faithful Portrait of Judaism: An Imperative for Christian Educators. In Efroymsom, D. P., Fisher, E. J. and Klenicki, L. (Eds). Within Context: Essays on Jews and Judaism in the New Testament pp 1-20. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990). Articles: "Johannes Hofinger," "The Kerygmatic Movement," "Angela Merici" and "Bible Study." In Cully, I. V. and Cully, K. B. (Eds). Harper's Encyclopedia of Religious Education. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990). Scripture in the Catechism. In Reese, T. J. S.J., (Ed). The Universal Catechism Reader. (pp. 43-54). San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989). Religious Education: A Map of the Field. In Boys, M. C. (Ed). Education for Citizenship and Discipleship pp 98-132. New York, NY: Pilgrim Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989). To Think Passionately about the World. In Slater, N. G. (Ed). Tensions between Citizenship and Discipleship: A Case Study pp.155-173. New York, NY: Pilgrim Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1985). Women as Leaven: Theological Education in the United States and Canada. In Fiorenza, E.S. and Collins, M. (Eds) Women: Invisible in Church and Theology; Concilium pp112-120. (#182; Edinburgh: T & T Clark).
  • Boys, M. C. (1984). Telecommunications: A Way of Revolutionizing Religious Education?" In Lange, E. C. (Ed). Reflections on a Theology of Telecommunications Image: Model and Word pp. 11-22. Dayton, OH: University of Dayton. edited version: "Religious Education in the Age of New Communication Technologies,” Media Development 32 (1985).
  • Boys, M. C. (1983). A Word About Teaching Justly. In O'Hare, P (Ed), Education for Peace and Justice (pp. 94-109). New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • Boys, M. C. (1979). Religious Education: Access to Traditions and Transformation. In O’Hare, P. (Ed). Tradition and Transformation (pp. 9-34). Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.

Articles

  • Boys, M. C. (2016, August). When Elie Wiesel Met François Mauriac,” America 25(3):31-32.
  • Boys, M. C. (2016). Our Ancestors Would Be Incredulous. Selected Lectures: The John McCarthy Lectures Series, Vol 5: 5-15.
  • Boys, M. C. (2016, Spring). Turn It and Turn It Again: The Vital Contribution of Krister Stendahl to Jewish- Christian Relations. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 51(2): 281-294.
  • Boys, M. C. (2015). Theologische Ausbildung in Zeiten der Hybriditaet und Polydoxie. Salzburger Theologische Zeitschrift 19(2):149-159.
  • Boys, M. C. (2015). Jews, Christians, and the Passion of Jesus. The Yale ISM Review 1(2) article 4. Available http://ismreview.yale.edu.
  • Boys, M. C. (2014, Winter). Doing Justice to Judaism: The Challenge of Christianity: Journal of Ecumenical Studies 49(1): 107-110.
  • Boys, M. C. and Tauber, S. (2013, October). Jews and Christians Learn from Memoirs: A Collegially Taught Course AAR Spotlight on Teaching https://www.aarweb.org/node/1614.
  • Boys, M. C., Lithwick, D. and Shulevitz, J. (2010, March 24). The Sabbath World Book Club: Why Beauty and Joy are Essential to the Sabbath. Slate.com. https://slate.com/culture/2010/03/why-beauty-and-joy-are-essential-to-the-sabbath.html.
  • Boys, M. C. (2010). The Promise and Perils of Inter-Religious Education. Toronto Journal of Theology 26(1): 21-32.
  • Boys, M. C., Lithwick, D. and Shulevitz, J. (2010, March 23). The Sabbath World Book Club: Unplugging on the Sabbath Isn’t Just a Jewish Problem. Slate.com https://slate.com/culture/2010/03/unplugging-on-the-sabbath-isn-t-just-a-jewish-problem.html.
  • Boys, M. C. (2009, October-December). Learning in the Presence of the Other. Religious Education 103(5):502-506.
  • Boys, M. C. (2009, February). The Salutary Experience of Pushing Religious Boundaries: Abraham Joshua Heschel in Conversation with Michael Barnes. Modern Judaism 29(1):16-26.
  • Boys, M. C. (2008) Does the Catholic Church Have a Mission ‘with’ Jews or ‘to’ Jews?” Studies in Christian Jewish Relations 3(1):1-19.
  • Boys, M. C. (2005). Christian Feminism and Anti-Judaism. Seeing Judaism Anew, 70-79.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004). The Death of Jesus Christ: Redeeming a Sacred Story from Its Sacrilegious Uses Seattle Theology and Ministry Review 4:80-90.
  • Boys, M. C. (2004, Spring). I Didn’t See Any Antisemitism. Cross Currents 54(1):8-15.
  • Boys, M. C. (2003). Patriarchal Judaism, Liberating Jesus: A Feminist Misrepresentation. Union Theological Seminary Quarterly Review 56(3-4):48-61.
  • Boys, M. C. (2003). The Ways of God: A Reading from a Distance. Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift 79:136-140.
  • Boys, M. C. (2003, May). A Resource for a Journey of Rethinking. The Bible Today, 41(3):141-147.
  • Boys, M. C., Cunningham, P. A. and Pawlikowski, J. T. (2002). Theology’s ‘Sacred Obligation’: A Reply to Cardinal Dulles. America 11-16.
  • Boys, M. C. (2002, Special Issue A). Educating Christians in Order That Strangers Become Neighbors. Journal of Religious Education 50(2):10-15.
  • Boys, M. C. (2002, February). Imaging a New Relationship: Ecclesia and Synagoga in Our Time. Environment and Art Letter 80-83.
  • Boys, M. C. (2002, January). Dust in Our Epiphany Fire. Eucharistic Minister 214:1-2.
  • Boys, M. C. (2001). Dominus Iesus: A Panel Discussion. Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 56:111-116.
  • Boys, M. C. The Covenant and Jewish-Christian Relations: A Response to Rabbi Norman Solomon and Cardinal Walter Kasper, http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/research/cjl/conferences/boys4Dec01.htm
  • Boys, M. C. (2001, November-December). Religion, Government and Society: A Response to David Rosen. In T. Bayfield et al. “The Interreligious World: A Nun’s Experience There. Review for Religious, 566-580.
  • Boys, M. C. (2001). Response to the Tragedy of September 11, 2001. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 55(12):5-7.
  • Boys, M. C. (2001). Interpreting Anti-Jewish Texts. Sh’ma 31(579):9.
  • Boys, M. C. (2000). The Transformative Power of Interreligious Dialogue. SIDIC (Service International De Documentation Judéo-Chrétienne) 33(1):2-7. (Also in French edition as “La Puissance Transformatrice Du Dialogue Interreligieux”).
  • Boys, M.C. (2000). The Wisdom of Creation: A Christian Perspective. The Way Supplement 2000/97: 28-37 (written in collaboration with and as a companion piece to “The Wisdom of Creation: A Jewish Perspective” by Carol K. Ingall, with “A Joint Postscript”)
  • Boys, M. C. (1999). Engaged Pedagogy: Dialogue and Critical Reflection. Teaching Theology and Religion 2(3): 129-136.
  • Boys, M. C. (1998, Summer). The ‘Other’ as Partner. Encounter 59(3):321-344.
  • Boys, M. C. (1997). Authenticity, Not Demonization: An Education for Paradox. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 34(3):350-355.
  • Boys, M. C. (1997) God Is Not Done Revealing, Conference [Australian Catholic Education Journal] 15(2):23-30.
  • Boys, M. C. (1996). An Education for Practical Theology. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 50(1-4): 29-46.
  • Boys, M. C. and Lee, S. S. (1996). The Catholic-Jewish Colloquium: An Experiment in Interreligious Learning. Religious Education 91(4): 421-466.
    Boys, M. C. (1997). The Grace of Teaching. The Cresset 59/6, 11-16. Reprinted in Conference 14(1): 9-14.
  • Boys, M. C. (1996). How Shall We Christians Understand Jews and Judaism? Questions about the New Catechism. Theology Today 53(2):165-170.
  • Boys, M. C. (1995). The Catechism of the Catholic Church: Questions about Its Portrayal of Jews and Judaism. At-One-Ment, Newsletter of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute 1-3.
  • Boys, M. C. (1995, Spring). Evaluating an Uncertain Craft: Faculty Assessment and Theological Education. Theological Education 31(2):37-50.
  • Boys, M. C. (1994). The Sisters of Sion: From a Conversionist Stance to a Dialogical Way of Life. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 31:1-2 (Winter-Spring), 27-48.
  • Boys, M. C. (1994, November 23-30). Answers and Questions: The New Catholic Catechism. Christian Century, 1115-1119.
  • Boys, M. C. (1994). Typology in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Intergroup Relations: Catholic and Jewish Readings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church ½, 40-50.
  • Boys, M. C. (1994, Spring). The Cross: Should a Symbol Betrayed Be Reclaimed? Cross Currents 44(2):5-27.
  • Boys, M. C. (September 1993-June 1994). Drawing from the Wellsprings. 10 columns for the Catechist’s Connection.
  • Boys, M. C. (1992, Summer). Life on the Margins: Feminism and Religious Education. Initiatives: The National Women's Studies Journal, 17-23.
    Boys, M. C. (1991, November). Jesus at Prayer and Worship. The Catechist's Connection 8(3):1-2.
  • Boys, M. C., Black, M. and Keller, J. (1991, January). Faith, Feminism and Teaching. Word and Life 39(1).
  • Boys, M. C. (1991). An Educational Perspective on Interreligious Dialogue: A Catholic's View. Religious Education 86(2): 171-183.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990, November). Studying and Teaching the Scriptures with Imagination. Word in Life 38(4):10-13.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990, Autumn). The Rhetoric of Wrath, part of a symposium Why Do the Ruethers So Furiously Rage? Continuum 1(1):116-118.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990). The Tradition as Teacher: Repairing the World. Religious Education 85(3):346-355.
  • Boys, M. C. (1990). Educational Tasks New and Old for an Ancient Yet Timely Text. Religious Education 85(2):229-239.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989). The Churches, the Public Schools, and Moral Education: A Catholic’s Viewpoint. The Chicago Theological Seminary Register 79(1):22-26.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989, October). Feminism and the Pedagogical Process. Catholic School Studies 62(2):55-57.
  • Boys, M. C. (1986). The Grace of Teaching. Momentum 17/4, 8-9.
  • Boys, M. C. (1985). Language and the Bible: A Response. Religious Education 80, 539-550.
  • Boys, M. C. (1984). The Role of Theology in Religious Education. Horizons 11, 61-85.
  • Boys, M. C. (1984, Spring). Teaching: The Heart of Religious Education. Religious Education 79: 252-272.
  • Boys, M. C. (1983, July). Parabolic Ways of Teaching, Biblical Theology Bulletin XIII, 82-89.
  • Boys, M. C. (1983). Women's Role in Theological Research, Reflection and Communication: A Religious Educator's Perspective. Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 38: 58-63.
  • Boys, M. C. and Groome, T. (1982, September-October). Principles and Pedagogy in Biblical Study. Religious Education 77:486-507.
  • Boys, M. C. (1982, July-August). Theory to Practice: A Response to Professor Huebner. Religious Education 77 (July-August 1982), 377-383.
  • Boys, M. C. (1982). Narrative and Religious Education: A Story Full of Promise. Chicago Studies 21 (Spring), 85-101.
  • Boys, M. C. (1982, March-April). Conversion as a Foundation of Religious Education. Religious Education 77:211-224.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981, November-December). Questions Which Touch on the Heart of Faith. Religious Education 76: 236-256. Reprinted in a condensed version as "A New Approach for Christian Educators,"Genesis 2 (13April 1982) 8-9.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981, March-April). The Standpoint of Religious Education. Religious Education 76:128-141.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981, March). Biblical Criticism and the Church Today, Part Two," Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-4. Reprinted in Padraic O’Hare, ed., Keeping PACE (Dubuque: Brown-ROA, 1996), 8-13.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981, February). Biblical Criticism and the Church Today, Part One. Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-4.
  • Boys, M. C. (1981, January). Fundamentalism. Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-5.
  • Boys, M. C. (1980, December). Major Movements in Interpretation. Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-5.
  • Boys, M.C. (1980, November). The Relationship Between the Testaments. Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-5.
  • Boys, M. C. (1980, October). The Changing Church and Its Scriptures. Professional Approaches for Christian Educators 11:1-5.
  • Boys, M. C. (1980, September-October). Curriculum Thinking from a Roman Catholic Perspective. Religious Education 75:516-527.
  • Boys, M. C. (1979, Fall). Ministry and Education: Scriptural Perspectives. The Living Light 16: 313-327.
  • Boys, M. C. (1979, March-April) Religious Education and Biblical Scholarship. Religious Education 74:182-197.
  • Boys, M. C. (1978, Spring). Contending With God: The Meaning of Faith in Elie Wiesel," NICM Journal 75-85.
  • Boys, M. C. (1976, Winter) Supervision in Religious Education. The Living Light 13:500-510.

Major Lectures

  • The Shannon Lectures, Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, 2018
  • The Krister Stendahl Lecture, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014
  • St. Mary’s University, London, UK, 2014
  • The Tanker Lecture, Pennsylvania State University, 2013
  • The McCarthy Lecture, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX 2013
  • The Mary Field and Vincent deP Goubeau Lecture, Yale University, October 2010
  • The Aquinas Lecture, Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY, October 2010
  • The James Kenneally Lecture, Stonehill College, Easton, MA, October 2010
  • The Michael A. Signer Lecture (Inaugural), Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, April 2010.
  • The Furlong Lecture, University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, October 2009
  • The Altering Effects of Dialoge,” Jewish-Christian Interreligious Colloquium in Honor of Fr. Stanislaw Musial, S.J., Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, March 2009
  • The Weinstein-Rosenthal Lecture, University of Richmond, November 2008
  • The May Smith Lecture, Florida Atlantic University, March 2008 and February 2009
  • The Phyllis Trible Lectures, Wake Forest University, March 2008
  • The Cardinal Willebrands Lecture, Amsterdam, NL 2008

Reviews

  • Boys, M. C. (2013). Redeeming our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations Between Jews and Christians. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
    • This book is a historical and exegetical study interwoven with important and nuanced theological reflections and insights…She gives voice to feminist and womanist theologians as well as to black liberationist theologians not only to uncover how these stories have been wrongly told, but also to bring forth the liberating possibilities in these stories…This book would be an excellent choice for a course on Jewish-Christian relations (Moyaert, M. VU University Amsterdam/Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 9, 2014: 1-4).
  • Cunningham, P. A., Sievers, J., Boys, M. C., Henrix, H. and Svartvik J. (Eds) (2011). Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
    • This is a remarkable collection of essays by Catholic theologians which together put forward a very bold and interesting thesis: Vatican II sowed seeds for an important development of doctrine in (a) the continuing validity of the Jewish covenant with God and (b) the field of missiology...(D’Costa, G. University of Bristol, Religion and Theology, 2012, 429-432).
  • Boys, M. C. (2000). Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
    • This book is a timely book in the whole discussion of the way in which Christians and Jews understand one another. Boys is passionate about her concern to recover a more conciliatory attitude of Christians toward Jews. Her method is to examine a number of attitudes and theological truisms that have characterized Christian history, particularly in light of the text as we find it and in light of the history of the Christian relationships to the Jewish community. The book is well written, with lots of short examples and lively, engaging teaching style (Oosterhuis, T. University of Alberta, Religious Studies and Theology, 87-97).

      As I read Boys’ book, I felt not only that Synagoga was being given the opportunity to walk alongside her sister, but that she was being invited to look over her sister’s shoulder as well. While Boys has written her book as a Christian educator for a Christian audience, much of what she writes needs to be known by the Jewish community as well (Langer, R. Boston College, SIDIC Review, 33/3: 30-31)

Excerpts from Publications

During the early stages of my research and writing, I was acutely conscious of the theological and educational limitations of salvation history. Now some three years later, I am no less aware of these problems, but I am much more appreciative of its significance. Salvation history was, in its own way, to borrow a phrase from T.S. Eliot, “a raid on the inarticulate.” It recognized that the bible, a classic text and Sacred Scripture, must be interpreted to the vitality of the life of faith. If today our theological and educational views are more refined and pluralistic, we can nevertheless, discover that the concerns lying at the heart of Heilsgeschichte are timeless. (Boys 1980, 339).

Boys, M. C. (2003). Patriarchal Judaism, Liberating Jesus: A Feminist Misrepresentation. Union Theological Seminary Quarterly Review 56(3-4):48-61.

In sum, as much as we might like to overcome the patriarchy so deeply embedded in the church by characterizing Jesus as one who prophetically resisted the legalistic religious authorities of his day, the situation of first-century Jewish life in Roman-ruled Palestine does not permit such portrayal (59).

Teaching

Boys, M. C. (1990). Educational Tasks New and Old for an Ancient Yet Timely Text. Religious Education 85(2):229-239.

There is another obligation incumbent on religious educators: facilitating the hearing of the religious dimension of the text…One is the practice of reflective reading, what has been termed lectio divina: reading the text attentively, meditatively, prayerfully, contemplatively. This counter-culturally activity in a society where one too often reads hurriedly, preoccupied with extracting the key point or amassing the necessary facts. Lectio, in contrast, means savoring the text, relishing the mystery into which one is ever more deeply summoned…The second necessity flows from the first: a commitment to imaginative ways of teaching the texts (238-239).

Boys, M. C. (1990). The Tradition as Teacher: Repairing the World. Religious Education 85(3):346-355.

The educator – the “one caring” – must have a vision of a world healed of its brokenness, a hope that this can happen, the faith that existence is indeed graced. In other words, the educator must be able to draw from the tradition both the vision of a new creation and the sustenance to persevere in pursuit of it (350-351).

Boys, M. C. (1989). Educating in Faith: Maps and Visions. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. Second reprint (2011) Lima, OH: Academic Renewal Press.

A review of the foundational requests offers a way of providing a summary of Catholic education. Revelation was first importance: God was revealed in the church (as the classic formula put it, “locution Dei ad homines per modum magisterii” – the word of God is spoken to men and women through the way of the magisterium)…The synthesis perspective, however, came to coexist with a more negative assessment of culture…Philosophy and theology were regarded as the epitome of human knowledge and undergirded the understanding of education…(87-88)

Interreligious Dialogue and Engagement

Boys, M. C. (1997). Authenticity, Not Demonization: An Education for Paradox. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 34(3):350-355.

Interreligious learning, we believe, moves beyond “dialogue” insofar as it involves: (1) the ability to enter another religious tradition without losing one’s own boundaries, (2) the experience of investing in the health and welfare of another’s religious tradition, (3) movement beyond tolerance to a genuine pluralism, and (4) keener awareness of both commonalities and differences between religious traditions…Interreligious learning transcends mere tolerance because it is oriented toward a genuine pluralism developed through serious study raised with a “hermeneutic of affections” (352-353).

Boys, M. C. (2000). Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

We must ask ourselves how our sacred texts should be read to foster faithful living of Christianity in our time. For this we require interpretations faithful to the historical and literary context in which the texts originated and we need awareness of the complexity of the interpretive process itself (29).


  • Boys, M. C. (2013). Redeeming our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations Between Jews and Christians. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Boys, M. C. and Lee, S. S. (2006). Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing.
  • Boys, M. C. (2000). Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1989). Educating in Faith: Maps and Visions. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. Second reprint (2011) Lima, OH: Academic Renewal Press.
  • Boys, M. C. (1997). Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman’s Experience. New York, NY and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Author Information

Barbara A. Fears

Barbara A. Fears (Garrett-Evangelical, M.Div., 2005; MTS 2006, Ph.D. 2015) is Assistant Professor of Religious Education at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C.

Email: barbara.fears@howard.edu