In Memory Of Her: Jane Schaberg

WATER joins many friends and colleagues in mourning the death on April 17, 2012, of Dr. Jane Schaberg. Jane was Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy. She was a creative and highly regarded feminist scholar whose work on Mary Magdalene is considered foundational in the field.

Jane was also a poet. Following is a poem (from a forthcoming volume of poems and essays) in which she expresses her hopes about death and her care for her beloved horse, Rappahannock.

May the legacy of her writing continue to be a blessing for all who wish to see women, including women in scripture, in the fullness of their humanity.


Swing Low
After hours bent over Merkabah and Hekhalot texts

and rabbinic and biblical materials

over the apocrypha and various translations

I expect/ I would like/ I hope for/ dream of

a death with the horses of fire coming

the chariots of fire

over Detroit or wherever it happens

highway, hospice, sidewalk, classroom, my own bed at home

me lifted up

light as an old child

my thin nightgown, my bones,

my flesh and hair on fire

great iron hooves pounding on the air and clouds

Rappahannock if he precedes me come back from the dead, one of them

his soft eyes, his chest muscles bulging

mane and tail ablaze

burning but not burnt

reins of light or no reins

joyful recognition of horse, rider, driver if there is one

burning but not burnt.

-Jane Schaberg


For more information on Jane, click here.

For a sample of her marvelous scholarship and writing see “Mary Magdalene: the Origins and Futures of Christianity.”

Expressions of sympathy may be addressed to her family:

Carolyn Johnson, 18202 Fairfield, Detroit, MI 48221
Helen Kaufman, 301 Charles St. Ave, Baltimore, MD 21204
Kathy Violette, 1455 High School Drive, St. Louis, MO 63144