Let Her Speak for Herself
Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on Women in Genesis
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Baylor University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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The headless woman on the cover reminds us that history has forgotten women who interpreted the Bible. This book is part of the long process of recovering the voice of women interpreters. The idea for the book began with a question. A few years ago, when Marion Taylor was teaching a class on the History of Old Testament scholarship, a student asked if she could do her term paper on a significant woman in the field of Old Testament studies. Taylor’s initial...
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Biblical scholars must bring out hidden treasure from interpreters long ignored and forgotten by the academy. A significant number of Englishspeaking women published works of biblical interpretation in the nineteenth century. Most of these women’s writings have been forgotten; their voices are no longer heard. Until now, these important texts have been overlooked by...
Eve—The Mother of Us All
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Eve stands as a pivotal figure for women interpreters of the Bible not only because the biblical creation story presents her as the first woman in histtory, but also because historically she was the best known woman of the Old Testament. When nineteenth-century women wrote about Eve, they faced a complex history of interpretation that included Christian art, theology, and...
Sarah—The First Mother of Israel
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The first matriarch of Israel, originally named Sarai, entered the story of salvation history as the wife of Abram; Genesis 11:27–23:20 contains her story. Ambiguity surrounds Sarai’s ancestry but not her fertility. Genesis 11:30 reads, “But Sarai was barren; she had no child.” When God commanded Abram to leave his homeland and go to the land of promise, Sarai traveled with her...
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The story of Hagar is inextricably linked to the story of Sarah and Abraham. In the last chapter, the selections focused on Sarah. In this chapter, the selecttions we have chosen focus primarily on Hagar. Hagar’s story is found in Genesis 16:1-16, and in 21:8-21. Interpreters have generally assumed that Pharaoh gave Hagar to Sarah in Egypt (see Genesis 12:16). Sarah’s solution to the problem of her barrenness was to...
Rebekah—Mother of Two Nations
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The story of Rebekah, the second of the matriarchs of Abraham’s family described in Genesis, is found primarily in Genesis 24–27.1 These chapters recount four major episodes in the life of Rebekah: her marriage to Isaac; the birth of her twin sons Esau and Jacob; the wife-sister story involving her husband Isaac, and Abimelech, king of Gerar; and her deception of Isaac so...
Leah and Rachel—Founders of the House of Israel
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The matriarchs, Leah and Rachel,1 with their two maids Zilpah and Bilhah, were the mothers of the twelve sons of Jacob who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Their story is found in Genesis 29–35. Leah and Rachel were the daughters of Laban, the brother of Rebekah. “Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored” (Gen. 29:17). Jacob fell in love with Rachel, the younger daughter, and agreed to work for seven years for her hand...
Lot’s Wife and Daughters, Dinah, Tamar, and Potiphar’s Wife—The Other Women of Genesis
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Nineteenth-century women looked to Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel for inspiration and self-understanding. They overlooked many of the less prominent and more controversial female figures like Lot’s wife and daughters, as well as Dinah, Tamar, and Potiphar’s wife. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote: “The texts on Lot’s daughters and Tamar we omit altogether, ...
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In The Women of Israel, Grace Aguilar called Jewish women to rediscover their foremothers, the matriarchs of their faith. We have now heard Aguilar’s voice along with the voices of forty-nine other women who wrote in the nineteenth century. These women have spoken. We need to listen to them and acknowledge them as our foremothers in biblical interpretation. Their diverse voices need to be heard and included in scholarly discussions of the...
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Page Count: 513
Publication Year: 2006