Friday, February 15, 2008

Women of the Bible

A very good friend of mine, a Jewish woman, exclaimed in the staffroom today,

"Do you realize that there is not one word in the Bible against slavery? Out with that book! Let's just get rid of that."

But haven't people learned to read for millenia from the Bible. Haven't readers of the book eventually taken action against dictatorial government and slavery. Where has the impetus for social change come from, if not from readers of the book?

What do I enjoy in the Bible? Well, there are the stories of Sarah, and Rebekah and Ruth. Not your average submissive wives. In fact, almost every single woman mentioned in the Bible has a major disagreement with her husband (those that had husbands) or initiated the action - under the blanket, so to speak. Can you see a story that goes like this,

"And David the king thought it right to invade the north, and his wife agreed with him."

Not much use in that! No, if a woman agreed with her husband, if she obeyed her husband, it went unmentioned, unless your name is Sapphira. Of course, Michal is a tragedy, but you have to read the bad with the good. This is the way it happened. Michal is not there to teach women to condone silly behaviour on the part of husbands. No, the story of Michal is there because some women experience what it is to be Michal.

Now, men, men always think they are David, but actually many men may be Uriah or Paltiel. Men don't have such a good time in the narratives either.

So, in all, no, I don't have difficulty reading the narratives of scripture. Tamar, Ruth, Rehab, Hannah, Abigail (I don't much like Abigail) and other women initiated the action.

Most of the women in the Greek scriptures seemed to be single. Their stories are interesting too.
I have to sign off, but tomorrow, what translation is good for a woman to read?


jamie said...

Can't wait for tomorrow's post...

Anonymous said...

I think anyone reading Paul's letter to Philomen must see that he is clearly opposing the idea of slavery. He tells Philomen that he is sending Onesimus back to him and refers to Onesimus as "my own heart." He tells Philomen to treat Onesimus as he would treat Paul and says he won't remind Philomen that he owes his very life to Paul. No, he doesn't come right out and say slavery is wrong. Paul believed that Jesus was going to return to earth sometime next week, or in a few months at the latest. He didn't have time to reform society even if he wanted to. But clearly in this letter, he is reminding a slave owner that all are equal and all serve the same master. I wonder how Philomen could have continued to believe it was right to own another human being.

Gem said...

Just curious why you don't like Abigail?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am not sure actually. The story just seems too simplistic. Maybe the ending is wrong. I understand the rest but why marry David.

Gem said...

I hear you on that!
and I feel better hearing your reasons because I identify with Abigail in a sense...
(and I don't think I would marry again)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

It's really because I identify more with Michal who was for the most part a passive victim. Abigail was more of an actor. I have to admit that Abigail is portrayed very positively. Its just happenstance that I reacted as I did.