Arthur happened to be sitting next to me as I read the introduction to Tamar’s Tears. He was regularly interrupted from his own reading by my excited exclamations. Here are two notable quotables. Long-time readers of our blog will recognise my own sentiments here, though the authors are much more eloquent than I!
Sometimes [evangelicals] do find ourselves embattled, defending the truth… But not all the time; at times, a more irenic, a more conversational approach is appropriate. … Of course, many evangelicals and many feminist biblical scholars would see this interface [between evangelical and feminist approaches] as a skirmish zone in a key conflict over the nature and use of the Bible. We beg to differ, seeking a more excellent way, a friendlier path through this territory that might prove fruitful for both evangelical and feminist scholars.
What then are the key issues that feminist OT hermeneutics raises for evangelical interpreters? Here are some: is the text as a whole, or are particular texts, inherently oppressive? … How do we wrestle with the historical and cultural particularity of the text/s while maintaining that it is the word of a God of freedom and fidelity, a God of love and justice? What do we do with texts that seem to deny women the dignity we believe is rightly theirs – and which have been used in such ways?
This summer my reading list has been full of prepping for St Andrew’s Hall – books on cross-cultural servanthood, incarnational ministry, cultural intelligence, etc. They’ve been helpful but I must admit I’m thrilled to be almost through the list, because my copy of Tamar’s Tears: Evangelical Engagements with Feminist Old Testament Hermeneutics arrived today and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.
It’s difficult to describe my level of excitement about this book. It’s edited by an Australian for a start, and it features a number of “down under” voices alongside British and American authors. But just think about the title: Feminist Old Testament hermeneutics? Yes please!; From a generous evangelical perspective? Absolutely!
There’s nothing on Jephthah’s daughter in it (do I sense an opening? ;) ) but just about every chapter piques my interest. The final chapter asks, “Can our Hermeneutics be both Evangelical and Feminist? Insights from the Theory and Practice of Theological Interpretation.” Stay tuned folks! I feel a blog series coming on!
There’s been an interesting discussion about the story of Jephthah’s daughter over at Feminism and Religion. I enjoy the opportunity there for people from different places on the feminist spectrum to exchange ideas. I’ve found it particularly fruitful for helping me to understand different hermeneutics i.e. different ways of reading the Bible.
The discussion I was involved in centred around the question of what to do with Hebrews 11. Verse 32 briefly mentions Jephthah in this ‘roll call of faith’. How are we to read this in conjunction with his despicable actions in Judges 11? Read more
I decided it was too ambitious to set myself a summer project these holidays. The summer’s looking crazy and we’ve a fair bit of reading and prep to do for next semester’s cross-cultural study at St Andrew’s Hall. That hasn’t stopped me dipping into one or two interesting feminist books though!
I ordered Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and their Children for the Ridley library when I was thinking about pursuing the idea of mother in the Bible for my MDiv project and have only just now had the time to read it. Read more
The answer ‘theology’ to the question ‘what are you studying?’ is often a conversation killer with my friends at the gym. They’re shocked because it’s an unusual answer (“I expected you to say something like nursing!”) or sometimes aren’t entirely sure what it is. Then there’s the question of what studying theology leads to: “Will you become a priest?” they ask. The whole idea of studying theology is kind of weird and I don’t want to push too hard on anything too ‘religious’. Read more
Introducing the Women’s Hebrew Bible is written by Susanne Scholz. Coming from a German context, her conception of feminist theology is as one part of a broader feminist agenda. Religion in Germany is institutionalised to a greater extent than in Australia (or even the US or Britain) and so the lines between Christian and secular scholarship are more blurred. Thus as she calls for a new generation of feminist theologians, she sees them as continuing the work of the Second Feminist Movement.
Scholz is concerned about the rise of “Christian evangelicals [who] consider the Bible as the word of God in contrast to…. the feminist view [that] the Hebrew Bible is a document created by humans that has to be studied with modern critical approaches.” Of course, that well describes me! Perhaps even more infuriating to Scholz, I have benefited greatly from the work of the Second Feminist Movement, both in their scholarship and in the opportunities that I am afforded! Yet, I refuse to carry on its work. Of course that’s frustrating to our feminist mothers: we spend our time engaging and critiquing their thought in order to do something different with it rather than finish their work. Read more