New Book by Psychologist Encourages Personal Connection with Stories of the Bible

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Â?The Women who Danced by the SeaÂ? inspires progressive Biblical interpretations for modern day issues.

About ten years ago, Marsha Mirkin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, began to teach workshops for adults on finding personal meaning in the stories of our Biblical foremothers. Mirkin’s workshops draw hundreds from across religious, political and age boundaries. She and her students have explored Biblical and psychological themes such as loss, healing, intimacy, betrayal, empathy, and parenting through reinterpreting Biblical stories using a psychological lens. This past October, her book, based on these workshops, “The Women who Danced by the Sea: Finding Ourselves in the Stories of our Biblical Foremothers,” was released by Monkfish Publishing Co.

Author and psychologist Harriet Lerner calls Mirkin a “passionate storyteller who enables us to see ourselves in each story she tells.” It is written in an engaging storytelling style and can be inspirational for people whether or not they have ever read the Bible before.

Mirkin finds that, to the initial surprise and interest of those who take her workshops, the Bible addresses many concerns that seem too modern for such an ancient text. Her interpretations allow us to see people struggle in relationships and learn from a compassionate God how to better deal with themselves, each other, and their society. Whether the characters she discusses are Hebrews or non-Hebrews, rich or poor, men or women, they are treated by the God of the Hebrew Bible with respect and compassion, and human beings are instructed to do the same. She regularly brings to the fore stories of non-Hebrew who display admirable characteristics and who are supported by the Hebrew God. There is no “othering” here.

This type of Biblical self-study is available in venues that would have seemed impossible a mere five or ten years ago. Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health alliance invited Mirkin to be a keynote speaker at a conference that they are sponsoring for physicians, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology is giving continuing education credits to mental health professionals and educators who study this material with Mirkin. A multi-cultural conference in New Jersey requested that Mirkin present her psychological perspectives of the Bible. A branch of Jewish Family Services had Mirkin teaching about Biblical women to the elderly, while the college student organization Hillel requested that she teach similar stories and its lessons for our lives today to college students.

Mirkin is currently on tour with her book, a text that Rabbi Harold Kushner has called “a wise and wonderful book, a book to open minds and nourish souls.” The tour locations and audience reflect the diversity of people interested in this material. The book may be purchased at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, and other fine bookstores as well as on the web at

About Monkfish Book Publishing Company

Monkfish publishes books that combine spiritual and literary merit. Monkfish books range from memoirs to sutras, from fiction to scholarly works of thought. Monkfish also publishes Provenance Editions, an imprint devoted to elegant editions of spiritual classics.

Monkfish was established in the summer of 2002. Its first five titles appeared in print last fall (2003). Contributors and authors include Marsha Mirkin, Rami Shapiro, Jacob Needleman, DT Suzuki, Rabindranath Tagore, and Huston Smith. Monkfish books are available wherever fine books are sold.

Contact Information:

Paul Cohen

Monkfish Book Publishing Company


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