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?
Categories: Woman Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
Hello! Couldn’t help commenting on the last question in that quote.
“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?”
Talking about “texts” is already problematic – we should talk about books, and authors, especially in the OT, to avoid missing context.
More importantly though, ISTM that with regard to OT narrative, the first key question we must labour away at is always this: What is the authors intent for the purpose and function of this portion of the narrative in the whole?
Followed by the question – what is the purpose of this portion/book in the narrative of salvation-history?
1. We must firstly study the book as a whole (NTE Strand 1 basics).
2. We must not forget that narrative is descriptive, not prescriptive.
3. As we study the book and consider it’s purpose we must work hard at our biblical theology.
Maybe this is simple stuff that is already being assumed?
But these steps seem to be consistently missed when scholars interact with portions of the OT isolation (particularly by both sides in the gender debate).
So going back to the question I quoted, it seems to assume that there are portions of the OT which were written for the *purpose* of setting forth prescriptive principles about the dignity of women.
Surely the first question is – were certain texts *intended* to function in the way people have used them? Or is it rather the case that they’ve been ripped out of context and misused?
(Bit of a ramble, but the phrasing of the question worries me).
Thanks for your thoughts here. I think your suggestions, especially about biblical theology, are exactly where the authors of this book are going! :)
You might be interested that the final chapter (which explicitly addresses the question of feminist and evangelical hermeneutics) is a discussion of William Webb’s redemptive movement hermeneutic.