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Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne

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Womanist Midrash is an in-depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafn Womanist Midrash is an in-depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafney employs a solid understanding of womanist and feminist approaches to biblical interpretation and the sociohistorical culture of the ancient Near East. This unique and imaginative work that is grounded in serious scholarship will expand conversations about feminist and womanist biblical interpretation.


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Womanist Midrash is an in-depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafn Womanist Midrash is an in-depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafney employs a solid understanding of womanist and feminist approaches to biblical interpretation and the sociohistorical culture of the ancient Near East. This unique and imaginative work that is grounded in serious scholarship will expand conversations about feminist and womanist biblical interpretation.

30 review for Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne

  1. 5 out of 5

    Staci Lee

    I am afraid to write a review for this book simply because I fear no words I put together will do it justice. On every page, this book blew my mind or melted my heart. I learned so much from this book. While Gafney is a Hebrew and Bible scholar and incredibly knowledgeable in translation and interpretation, she never makes the reader feel like they can not understand the text as well. Each time she would define and explain the text in Hebrew, it would open my eyes to a whole new world. While the I am afraid to write a review for this book simply because I fear no words I put together will do it justice. On every page, this book blew my mind or melted my heart. I learned so much from this book. While Gafney is a Hebrew and Bible scholar and incredibly knowledgeable in translation and interpretation, she never makes the reader feel like they can not understand the text as well. Each time she would define and explain the text in Hebrew, it would open my eyes to a whole new world. While the book is extensive in academic interpretation and information of the text, my heart was more touched than my mind. Gafney's Midrash of the verses often left me in tears. I was suddenly there, in the text, living, feeling, and breathing each word. She would repeat the phrase "When I use my sanctified imagination..." when she would begin her Midrash. By the middle of the book, my body would have a visceral reaction to this little phrase, knowing that something holy and profound and inspired was about to come my way. I am looking forward to reading so much of this book again and again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madison Boboltz

    How to begin?!?!?! Forget ministry... I'm just going to head down the road to Fort Worth, take all of her classes, and become a Hebrew Bible scholar. Well, not really. But it's tempting. I originally picked this up because I had heard such great things from others who I admire. I am always on board to read commentaries on women in the Hebrew Bible; it was one of my favorite things to explore in undergrad. Furthermore, I looked through my shelves and realized I had no works of theology or biblica How to begin?!?!?! Forget ministry... I'm just going to head down the road to Fort Worth, take all of her classes, and become a Hebrew Bible scholar. Well, not really. But it's tempting. I originally picked this up because I had heard such great things from others who I admire. I am always on board to read commentaries on women in the Hebrew Bible; it was one of my favorite things to explore in undergrad. Furthermore, I looked through my shelves and realized I had no works of theology or biblical scholarship written by women of color. I had a few books about Christian life and faith, and some on race relations, but none that veered more toward the academic side of study. So glad to have changed that now! Gafney's scholarship is INCREDIBLE! Her writing and teaching is MASTERFUL. I'm sure she could put to shame anyone who challenged her knowledge and competence of scripture, or her ability (and her CALLING) to teach/preach it--SHAME I tell you. I am just blown away. Okay, onto the actual book: Goodness.... she does not shy away. Yes, Abraham is the father of our faith.... but.... he also sex trafficked his own sister/wife, impregnated a woman against her will, allowed for her abuse, and then sent her and her son into the wilderness... not great. Yes, Moses delivered the Israelites from slavery.... but.... he also calls for slaughter and genocide even though God does not demand it.... AND he he denies the daughters of Zelophehad their inheritance granted to them BY GOD... RUDE. Do not even get me STARTED on David. Yes, he is one of the few characters in the Old Testament who understood the importance of monotheism... but that's pretty much the only good thing he's got going for him, in my opinion. I pray there is a special place in heaven for the women in his life who had to endure him. These important figures in our faith were heroes in some ways and horrific villains in other ways. They have two or three redeeming qualities or moments, sure. Patriarchy, on the other hand, has no redeeming qualities. There is no "right way." If the most important characters in scripture, whom God spoke with and commanded directly, could not lead or rule over women without also subjecting them to grave injustice, what makes anyone think patriarchy, as a model for relationships and authority in the church, bears good fruit? In fact, it bears a lot of bad fruit. Scripture shows. History shows. The MeToo movement shows. Let's leave patriarchy behind and love God and one another. Amen? Amen. We can not go back and hold Abraham, Moses, David, and others accountable for the crimes they committed against women, but we can and should and must do so today. Gafney also points out how patriarchy is, in many ways, responsible for pitting women against one another and and leads women to become perpetrators of crimes against one another. This is womanist midrash, not merely feminist. Gafney points out how women in scripture betrayed/abused/disenfranchised other women, and she reminds us how we have continued to do so throughout history. She brings to light more modern and ongoing conflicts which continue to reflect patterns of cruelty and exclusion between people and women of different races/nations/ethnicities. This book is not easy to read. It is disturbing to me that consent, which figures so essentially in our conversations about sex today, seemingly had little or no importance to characters in the Hebrew Bible. Does this mean consent did not matter to God? It is awful to read women listed out with animals as though they are simply property. Did God not care enough to correct this misconception when bestowing the law to Moses? Or is this how God viewed women as well? The section on forced impregnation was also especially troubling. Are women no more than wombs? What provides readers hope and comfort is the voice Gafney grants to characters, some named and some just imagined. We know women were present, even if they were not named. We know they played essential roles, even if they were not given a voice. Midrash is a means through which to give them names, stories, and voices. It grants us permission to use our sanctified imagination. It reminds us that women matter, and it's important to consider stories of scripture from their perspective. In doing so, we may praise them for their resilience, curiosity, cleverness--their grit and grace. We may critique them for the part they play in perpetuating injustice. We may be in solidarity with them and they may be in solidarity with us. We may mourn those who did not survive the crimes committed against them. We may be encouraged by those who did survive. We may remember their names. We may remember they too are children of God. Okay, this accidentally turned into a book report. I'm done now. :)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    Wilda Gafney is a master. In this technical, but not to technical, overview of the women mentioned in the Torah, as well Israels' royal women--both in the united monarchy, and in Judah and Israel after that. It is truly an incredible work, and Gafney's midrashes are creative and compelling. Gafney's comment on the text brings it to life, and brings it new life. I am truly grateful to have been led and taught by Gafney. What an achievement! Wilda Gafney is a master. In this technical, but not to technical, overview of the women mentioned in the Torah, as well Israels' royal women--both in the united monarchy, and in Judah and Israel after that. It is truly an incredible work, and Gafney's midrashes are creative and compelling. Gafney's comment on the text brings it to life, and brings it new life. I am truly grateful to have been led and taught by Gafney. What an achievement!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Jarvis

    Dr. Gafney's Womanist Midrash is an informative and insightful look at the women in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Gafney's aim is to acknowledge (by name, as often as possible) the women in, around, and behind the text. This was extremely helpful to me, because I have been trained to read the Scriptures with from an androcentric viewpoint, where the women are included in the text as props for the actions of the dominant men. Dr. Gafney's book aims to humanize those women in the eyes of read Dr. Gafney's Womanist Midrash is an informative and insightful look at the women in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. Dr. Gafney's aim is to acknowledge (by name, as often as possible) the women in, around, and behind the text. This was extremely helpful to me, because I have been trained to read the Scriptures with from an androcentric viewpoint, where the women are included in the text as props for the actions of the dominant men. Dr. Gafney's book aims to humanize those women in the eyes of readers. Because this is a self-acknowledged Midrash, Dr. Gafney makes interpretive choices. Not all of her "sanctified imagining" (a term used repeatedly throughout the book) can be fully supported by the text, but she goes to great pains to ensure that those interpretive choices are well-grounded within the text of the Hebrew Bible, ancient interpretive traditions, and the culture of the time. I think this book is a very important book for ministers to read, because it causes us to question our received interpretations of many biblical passages. I consider myself to have a fairly open mind when it comes to biblical interpretation, and yet Dr. Gafney's womanist perspective provides commentary and insights that I, as a straight, white man in ministry have never before considered (and I find myself now questioning how I could not have ever considered some of these things). This book is a reminder that the Western, androcentric approach to scripture does not have a monopoly on biblical interpretation, and that serious students of scripture should engage with many other perspectives to try and get a more complete picture of what is going on in the biblical narratives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Evans

    Can’t wait to walk around with a sign taped to my forehead that says, “IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE BIBLE AT ALL, PLEASE READ THIS BOOK I BEG OF YOU”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick Richtsmeier

    I accepted a long overdue challenge this year to read more theology by women and POC. To be honest, I was nervous. Not because I thought I would find something "wrong" but because I didn't trust myself to be able to integrate wisdom from Christian experiences so different from mine without going to extremes, trying to figure out who is "right" and who is "wrong." Enter Wilda Gafney. Her book was such a gift to me, an undeserved one. I felt drawn in by her incredible intellect, her well-researched I accepted a long overdue challenge this year to read more theology by women and POC. To be honest, I was nervous. Not because I thought I would find something "wrong" but because I didn't trust myself to be able to integrate wisdom from Christian experiences so different from mine without going to extremes, trying to figure out who is "right" and who is "wrong." Enter Wilda Gafney. Her book was such a gift to me, an undeserved one. I felt drawn in by her incredible intellect, her well-researched view on the text, and her comprehensive and yet human take on the under-told stories of the women of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Wilda is famous for saying that she won't let a passage go until it gives her a blessing, no matter how ugly that may be. You can FEEL that in her writing. She educated me on the rich concept of "Midrash" (How have I been studying the Bible my whole life and am JUST NOW learning this... oh yeah, white guys.) She was clear when she was taking direct material from the text and when the Spirit-informed imagination of her teaching was taking hold. I learned SO much. The book, in and of itself, is heart-breaking. It systematically shows the hundreds of stories that aren't told, and dozens of others that are told in a dramatically one-sided way. (The segment on Moses' wives is particularly good.) She breaks down the implicit rape-culture built into the text and the slaveholders bias that showers so many pages of the OT. I was reminded in an incredibly deep way that to love the Bible is to love something exemplifying deep beauty and deep brokenness. There's no way to cross-stitch these truths away. I'll be forever changed by this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    I recently had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Gafney speak at a conference. At one point she stated, “Sometimes the problem with the interpretation of the text is the text itself.” That statement works reasonably well as a summary statement for this book. This book is an exercise in discomfort for a white American Christian man raised in the Evangelical tradition. Dr. Gafney does an amazing job of finding those people that are marginalized in the text and giving them a voice. And many of those marg I recently had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Gafney speak at a conference. At one point she stated, “Sometimes the problem with the interpretation of the text is the text itself.” That statement works reasonably well as a summary statement for this book. This book is an exercise in discomfort for a white American Christian man raised in the Evangelical tradition. Dr. Gafney does an amazing job of finding those people that are marginalized in the text and giving them a voice. And many of those marginalized voices continue to be silenced (or at least overlooked/ignored) in traditional Evangelical interpretations. I am accustomed to authors explaining away and minimizing some of the particularly troubling sections of the Bible. Gafney does no such thing. In fact, if there is a critique to be had here, it is that while conservative theologians always give the text the benefit of the doubt, Gafney seems to do the opposite. There were a couple of occasions where I certainly didn’t believe her argument was air tight, and I think conservatives would be prone to dismiss her as accepting the worst possible reading. Having said that, part of the high value in this book is confronting the presuppositions our own experiences cause us to bring to the text. Her experiences as a black woman are far different from mine as a white man, and she naturally notices things in the text that I am simply blind to. It is incredibly valuable to wrestle with many of the issues she brings to light. The issues she addresses in this book are not easy to dismiss or explain away. Early in the book she asks the question “Is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob truly the God of Hagar, Sarah, Keturah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah?” This question cuts to the heart of the book. There are many “minor” characters that are glossed over in the text. Gafney names them, gives them a voice, asks what they would have thought about the God of Abraham, given the way they were treated by God's people. Many of her insights I found incredibly poignant and even heart-breaking. Others I simply found incredibly interesting. This was certainly my first experience reading anything positive into the character of Jezebel. For instance, she points out that Jezebel was a foreign woman, married to an Israelite monarch, who manages to maintain fidelity to her religion of origin. Gafney writes “It is probable that Jezebel’s religious devotion is embarrassing for the biblical editors. Her faith was a nonnegotiable, in spite of living in a foreign land and being married to someone with a different, intolerant religion. On the other hand, the Israelites seem to have never met another deity that they wouldn’t try out for a while.” Some of the most striking sections of the book are where Gafney gives voice to a perspective that is new to me, and something I had honestly never considered before. But it would be dismissive to suggest that this book is simply interesting because it comes from a perspective that differs from my own. It certainly is that, but it is far more than that. While Gafney certainly aims to fill in gaps left in the text with her own perspective, she remains thoroughly engaged with the text itself. Gafney is a scholar, and she is thorough in her handling of the Hebrew text. While she writes in a way that is accessible, it is also not a book for beginners. I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A must read for anyone interested in women, in womanism, in the Torah or Bible. I was especially moved by the chapter on Genesis, and would have given this book an unabashed 5 stars if I wasn’t so unfamiliar with the later books of the Tanakh/Old Testament that made the last few chapters difficult for me to interact with.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marc Schelske

    I am a life-long student of scripture, raised in a tradition that held scripture in high regard. I’m trained in reading Biblical Hebrew and Greek. I’m a pastor with nearly 25 years full-time vocational experience. It’s easy for me to think that I’ve “seen it all” when it comes to studying the text. Turns out, this perception is largely the result of my own limited perspective and cultural privilege. Dr. Gafney changed the way that I read scripture, enabling me to see things in the text that I ha I am a life-long student of scripture, raised in a tradition that held scripture in high regard. I’m trained in reading Biblical Hebrew and Greek. I’m a pastor with nearly 25 years full-time vocational experience. It’s easy for me to think that I’ve “seen it all” when it comes to studying the text. Turns out, this perception is largely the result of my own limited perspective and cultural privilege. Dr. Gafney changed the way that I read scripture, enabling me to see things in the text that I had overlooked or been unable to see previously. The chapter on Hagar is simply stunning, and deeply impacted how I read Abraham, Sarah, and even how I think of Islam. The appendix on the art of translation is a helpful and challenging piece for anyone in a position to preach or teach others about what scripture says. Womanist Midrash is, in my view, essential reading for anyone, like me, who is tasked with teaching about scripture, and who has been largely formed by the received tradition of western theology, made up as it is, of primarily white, European, men. Dr. Gafney offers a gracious corrective to the natural limitations of the perspective so many of us have inherited.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Sherwin

    This book is absolutely stunning. Textually rich and wonderfully illuminating, Womanist Midrash is required reading for everyone. Dr Gafney has written a resource that I can’t imagine being without. —Tristan Sherwin, author of Living the Dream?:The Problem with Escapist, Exhibitionist, Empire-Building Christianity

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jay Darcy

    Absolutely brilliant! Dr. Gafney has given me new ways of seeing and engaging with the Old Testament texts, and introduced me to a much more expansive worldview. I am truly grateful for her work. This is a book I could read 5 times and still discover new insights each time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve Watson

    Gafney writes commentary on the women mentioned in the Torah and the royal histories of Israel and Judah. She writes from a womanist frame - explicitly, self-consciously influenced by the the experience of African-American women. And she interprets in the tradition of midrash - imaginative reading between the lines informed by scholarship and faith. The strength of this eye-opening work is the combination of Gafney's womanist lens and her familiarity with and respect for Jewish interpretive trad Gafney writes commentary on the women mentioned in the Torah and the royal histories of Israel and Judah. She writes from a womanist frame - explicitly, self-consciously influenced by the the experience of African-American women. And she interprets in the tradition of midrash - imaginative reading between the lines informed by scholarship and faith. The strength of this eye-opening work is the combination of Gafney's womanist lens and her familiarity with and respect for Jewish interpretive tradition. While the book is consistently fascinating and helpful, Gafney's reading of the David narratives through the story's women, those "dominated by David" is was for me the most stunning part. We think we know Abigail, Bathsheba, Tamar, and others, but by centering these women's stories, and centering an imaginative empathy for marginalized women, Gafney helps me see more of their depth, brilliance, and pathos. I'm then left with the challenge of the text's patriarchy and its conclusion that David is "a man after God's own heart." Are God's standards this low? Shall I openly dispute not just this editor's conclusion, but the whole tradition that centers the Davidic line, through its Messianic fulfillment (according to my faith) in Jesus? Is it instructive to me that Jesus makes very little mention of David himself, to the point of either disinterest or a reframing of that narrative's heroic center in his tradition? Or can I both scorn David's violence, sexism, and his proclivity toward rape and disempowerment and abandonment of women, while also treasuring his devotion and (within the limits of his considerable cultural blindness) inclination toward repentance? Womanist Midrash helps us see much of the Scriptures anew, surfacing some of the tensions a 21st century reader feels in the gut, and inviting a reengagement with the text's themes and impact. I so appreciate this direction in scholarship and Bible reading and application.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Witzig

    In 2018 Carolyn Custis James wrote a journal article entitled, "Trauma, Resilience and the Church," in which she wrote the following about the #MeToo movement and the church: "These disturbing current events have shed new light on biblical stories I’ve heard all my life. #MeToo stories have been in our Bible, right in front of us, all along. But we tend to skip over them or sanitize what’s actually happening and ignore the frightening realities presented on the pages of our Bibles. We’ve all don In 2018 Carolyn Custis James wrote a journal article entitled, "Trauma, Resilience and the Church," in which she wrote the following about the #MeToo movement and the church: "These disturbing current events have shed new light on biblical stories I’ve heard all my life. #MeToo stories have been in our Bible, right in front of us, all along. But we tend to skip over them or sanitize what’s actually happening and ignore the frightening realities presented on the pages of our Bibles. We’ve all done this. These stories convinced me that the #MeToo crisis has come to us, to me—as Christians. The Bible doesn’t avoid this topic. Jesus doesn’t want his church to avoid it either." These are those #MeToo stories from the Bible (and more). As I read this book, it took me days to cover sometimes just a few pages as I lamented the stories of horrific pain, injustice and inhumanity splayed (sometimes celebrated) throughout the Old Testament. Gafney's Womanist approach and Sanctified Imagination helped to fill in the details of what else might have been going on between the lines of the story. Gaffney celebrated the moments where women demonstrated autonomy, power and resistance against all odds, while also unflinchingly telling the horrors of the frequent abuse and dehumanization of other women in the text. As I continue to journey toward comprehending the immeasurable influence of patriarchy on my own life and thinking, I'm grateful for this book as I consider it one of the most important books I've read for my faith. I hope I will continue to run into authors and texts like this one that cause me to avoid seeing the bible as stories of triumphalism at the cost of the suffering and marginalized. Many thanks to my wife, JoAnna, for recommending this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rev. Linda

    A text for a Spring 2018 course at Brite Divinity School--a fascinating resource on the women in the Hebrew Bible, named and unnamed. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Gafney's use of what she terms "sanctified imagination", where she enters the text as preacher/interpreter to tell the story behind the story in midrashs throughout the book. This will be an excellent resource for future exegesis of Torah passages ---- From the publisher: Womanist Midrash is an in- depth and creative exploration of the w A text for a Spring 2018 course at Brite Divinity School--a fascinating resource on the women in the Hebrew Bible, named and unnamed. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Gafney's use of what she terms "sanctified imagination", where she enters the text as preacher/interpreter to tell the story behind the story in midrashs throughout the book. This will be an excellent resource for future exegesis of Torah passages ---- From the publisher: Womanist Midrash is an in- depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafney employs a solid understanding of womanist and feminist approaches to biblical interpretation and the sociohistorical culture of the ancient Near East. This unique and imaginative work that is grounded in serious scholarship will expand conversations about feminist and womanist biblical interpretation

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cook

    If I could, I'd rate this even higher. To say this book changed my life would not be an overstatement. Gafney's exposition was a gift. It was a challenging, provocative, difficult, beautiful, powerful, and altogether necessary read. Necessary doesn't convey the depth of need, really. I see it as vital to understanding Scripture, God, and ourselves. Her work illumines passages long darkened by patriarchal, uncontested interpretation. She approaches Scripture with a rawness born out of incredible If I could, I'd rate this even higher. To say this book changed my life would not be an overstatement. Gafney's exposition was a gift. It was a challenging, provocative, difficult, beautiful, powerful, and altogether necessary read. Necessary doesn't convey the depth of need, really. I see it as vital to understanding Scripture, God, and ourselves. Her work illumines passages long darkened by patriarchal, uncontested interpretation. She approaches Scripture with a rawness born out of incredible intellect and study, but weighted with genuine humility and reverence. The womanist approach was refreshing and freeing, creating space to approach the Torah in a way I always felt was possible but had never been taught. I didn't agree with everything, but even in that, there is a freedom to wrestle, a freedom to consider, a freedom to leave questions unanswered and tension unresolved. This book isn't meant to be the final say from a womanist perspective; rather, it is a broadening, an expansion, an offering that should ultimately lead to more study, more questions, and through it all, a more clear and whole image of God.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Scott

    I found this book deeply challenging and fascinating. Rev. Dr Gafney expounds on the Scriptures from a womanist perspective, and offers an introduction to a Midrash approach that's all too often lacking in spaces dominated by white men. Gafney does not shy away from the more uncomfortable passages of Scripture that are often ignored or glossed over by other writers. She also exposes assumptions often made by teachers and translators in various passages, and she lays bare what is actually in the t I found this book deeply challenging and fascinating. Rev. Dr Gafney expounds on the Scriptures from a womanist perspective, and offers an introduction to a Midrash approach that's all too often lacking in spaces dominated by white men. Gafney does not shy away from the more uncomfortable passages of Scripture that are often ignored or glossed over by other writers. She also exposes assumptions often made by teachers and translators in various passages, and she lays bare what is actually in the text and what the text doesn't say, creating a space for Midrashic imagination. To that point, the book also serves as an excellent introduction to the concept of Midrash, and demonstrates a useful model for how Christians can approach these Scriptures in a hermeneutic that is more honest to the original intention of the text. Gafney models a way to read Scripture that is separated from the modern methods that have been so damaging and so unhelpful for the Western Church in particular

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria Longley

    I've been working my way through this list of women named, or sometimes just implied, in the Torah and the books concerning the throne. I had no idea there were so many women mentioned by name even when we don't hear that much about them. The idea of "sanctified imagination" is a very helpful one too. Professor Gafney is a Hebrew scholar and has translated many of the texts in this book. She also provides a fascinating appendix on the translation issues facing anyone doing translation plus some I've been working my way through this list of women named, or sometimes just implied, in the Torah and the books concerning the throne. I had no idea there were so many women mentioned by name even when we don't hear that much about them. The idea of "sanctified imagination" is a very helpful one too. Professor Gafney is a Hebrew scholar and has translated many of the texts in this book. She also provides a fascinating appendix on the translation issues facing anyone doing translation plus some of the extra ones when you're translating Scripture. I am always fascinated by translating, and due to being bilingual spend quite a lot of time thinking about it, so I really enjoyed those thoughts too.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Cubbage

    I found this book helpful and illuminating. Wil Gafney wrestles powerfully and honestly with the text of the Hebrew Bible, merging careful, scrupulous Hebrew scholarship, close reading, and the theological concerns of womanism. The result is a book that rarely tries to enlist the Bible into the service of a specific thesis, and is honest about the ways in which the canonical texts both provide resources for inclusive ways of thinking about God and human community and also foreclose the role of w I found this book helpful and illuminating. Wil Gafney wrestles powerfully and honestly with the text of the Hebrew Bible, merging careful, scrupulous Hebrew scholarship, close reading, and the theological concerns of womanism. The result is a book that rarely tries to enlist the Bible into the service of a specific thesis, and is honest about the ways in which the canonical texts both provide resources for inclusive ways of thinking about God and human community and also foreclose the role of women in numerous points through pointed silence.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Etta Madden

    Am really liking the way Gafney's work sends me back to my writing about Shaker founder, Mother Ann Lee, in the 1990s. I called Lee's interpretation of scripture and preaching "spiritual literacy" in my book, Bodies of Life: Shaker Literature and Literacies. But Gafney pushes me beyond my work on the Shakers from years ago to rethink "traditional" interpretations of sacred texts. Her reading of Genesis (which I've finished thus far) is enlightening, to state it lightly. I've not been so intellec Am really liking the way Gafney's work sends me back to my writing about Shaker founder, Mother Ann Lee, in the 1990s. I called Lee's interpretation of scripture and preaching "spiritual literacy" in my book, Bodies of Life: Shaker Literature and Literacies. But Gafney pushes me beyond my work on the Shakers from years ago to rethink "traditional" interpretations of sacred texts. Her reading of Genesis (which I've finished thus far) is enlightening, to state it lightly. I've not been so intellectually stimulated about those ancient stories in some time. Very stimulating!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book deals with women in the Hebrew Bible from a womanist theological perspective. Parts of it are absolutely fascinating as she brings to life little known stories that are particularly important to us as women of faith. But there are times when her scholarly approach is a bit intense, especially around issues of translation. I realize that those issues are important but they are less interesting to an average reader.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Chadwick

    It’s a long time since a book prompted my to break out a highlighter/pencil to mark meaningful or marvellous passages, but the pen came out even in the introduction. I loved the Torah portion, and heavily re-examined my relationship with my namesake as a result. The Women of the Throne portion was more work to get through because of my unfamiliarity with the characters and the more limited information she had to go on. Nevertheless, highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Randall

    If you want to take a journey through some of the Old Testament's most difficult and challenging texts regarding/involving the lives of women, Gafney is an excellent guide. She writes as a scholar, and she writes with confidence. She does not shy away from the painful nature of these texts. This was not always an easy read, but it was still incredibly helpful. I am grateful for this book and the perspectives it offered me. If you want to take a journey through some of the Old Testament's most difficult and challenging texts regarding/involving the lives of women, Gafney is an excellent guide. She writes as a scholar, and she writes with confidence. She does not shy away from the painful nature of these texts. This was not always an easy read, but it was still incredibly helpful. I am grateful for this book and the perspectives it offered me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Cantrell

    Reviewing this book is a challenge I don't feel equal to. Gafney's brilliant and learnèd perspectives on Hebrew scripture, culture, and history will be working on my mind and heart for many years to come. The womanist approach humbles me in the best way, and I look forward to listening further. I recommend to anyone who thinks of themselves as a "biblical scholar" and to anyone who thinks they need to be teaching others the Bible. Reviewing this book is a challenge I don't feel equal to. Gafney's brilliant and learnèd perspectives on Hebrew scripture, culture, and history will be working on my mind and heart for many years to come. The womanist approach humbles me in the best way, and I look forward to listening further. I recommend to anyone who thinks of themselves as a "biblical scholar" and to anyone who thinks they need to be teaching others the Bible.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    I can’t think of another book I’ve read recently that has taught me more. I feel like I’ve learned a new language. I am so thankful for the information and perspectives offered in this book and the added dimension it provides to my thinking around the Scriptures and traditions that I was raised in.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Amazing. If you haven't read, or didn't grow up with, the Hebrew Bible (aka Christian Old Testament), this book probably won't mean much to you. If you have (or did), this book will shatter your thinking in the best possible ways. Amazing. If you haven't read, or didn't grow up with, the Hebrew Bible (aka Christian Old Testament), this book probably won't mean much to you. If you have (or did), this book will shatter your thinking in the best possible ways.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I learned a lot about Hebrew Scriptures and Biblical interpretation from reading this book. It was a slow read for me, as the material was dense and read almost like a textbook. I found it to be repetitive at the end, but it’s very thorough and will be a great reference book for me going forward.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    I don't think words can do justice as to what this book meant to me. I did not realize when I began reading what a healing experience it would be to read a book wholly focused on the women of the Bible/Torah. Gafney's writing and midrash is wonderful. This book is so worth the read. I don't think words can do justice as to what this book meant to me. I did not realize when I began reading what a healing experience it would be to read a book wholly focused on the women of the Bible/Torah. Gafney's writing and midrash is wonderful. This book is so worth the read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is so, so good. And soooo thorough. And sooooooo thorough that it really works better as a reference book than something to read through for pleasure. An extremely valuable resource for any preacher or teacher of these Scriptures.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I truly appreciate the author's scholarship in this book! It is evident on every page how thorough she was in her interpretation. And I really enjoyed her perspective. I had difficulty with her writing and really struggled through this one. Highly recommend for biblical scholarship! 3 stars I truly appreciate the author's scholarship in this book! It is evident on every page how thorough she was in her interpretation. And I really enjoyed her perspective. I had difficulty with her writing and really struggled through this one. Highly recommend for biblical scholarship! 3 stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie Joh

    Amazing. Rigorously & gorgeously opens up the world of the Torah to include voices that so often go unheard in the common church narratives. This should be required reading for any person of Christian (or Jewish) faith.

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