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14.11.2019

Do We Need a ‘Women’s Bible’? | Connecting with Culture

In the Times Magazine last weekend, Caitlin Moran wrote about the Bible. ‘It might be a bestseller’, the sub-heading says, ‘but we need a new version of the Bible – strictly for women.’

The piece considers how the Bible’s ‘greatest hits are now absolutely entwined with our idea of how to be an acceptable human being’, but then argues that maybe the Bible was not written for women: ‘The things the Bible presumes its reader struggles with – the things it provides counsel for – are generally the struggles of men, not women.’ Violence, love of money, and turning the other cheek, she suggests, aren’t really moral struggles for women.

‘What would a Bible written for women look like?’, she asks. ‘Women are just as awful and just as in need of betterment as men – it’s just that their flaws are different, and invisible to the Bible.’

It’s very easy for me to want to dismantle her arguments, to explain how to read the Bible well, how to consider the original culture and context, how to analyse the language.

But then I stop and listen to the question behind the question, the one that so many of us long to have answered:

‘Where is my guidance?’ she seems to be asking. ‘What am I supposed to do?!’

It’s then that I realise that Moran is no different from the rest of us. She doesn’t really need a theological deep-dive into why the Bible was revolutionary for women of its time and has been at the forefront of social justice issues for centuries. She doesn’t need a lesson in biblical interpretation – although the time for that may come later. She doesn’t need a Bible written especially for women, not really.

She needs the person of Jesus, the one who stands at the heart of the Bible, present on every page. She needs to understand the overarching story of salvation – one of a broken, lost humanity and a good, good God who pursues those he created and loves with a relentless passion, sacrificing his very self for them.

And I guess that’s all any of us need, isn’t it? A reminder that we are fully known and fully loved, despite it all. The damage that we have done – and has been done to us – is not irreversible.

It never was.

That’s the Bible women need. And it’s the Bible women – and men – have.

 

Nell Goddard

Author

Nell Goddard

Comments

  1. Excellent. Thank you and so true. I am a great fan of Caitlin Moran.
    Caitlin writes as it is today, in all spheres

    By Jean Lesley Berridge - 15th November 2019
  2. Caitlin’s phrases ‘reader struggles’, ‘struggles of men’ ,’aren’t really moral struggles for women’, bear a second visit. An observant slant; a nuance worth exploring.
    I am not seeing, second Bible, missed meaning, polarised views here.
    I am hearing ‘what would this look like through the eye of…?’ Even at the point where Jesus’ revolutionary advocacy touches the heart, which it most certainly does!
    The question I hear asked is, “How might that be written by the pen of… ? Awakening these perspectives could bring out a whole new appreciation of The Word. A new view portrayed!

    By Jilli - 15th November 2019
  3. WOW. Fully known and fully loved by the one who is present on every page of the bible.
    words to build a life on.

    By Janet - 15th November 2019
  4. I was in conversation with a rabbi this week about the encounter between Jesus and the Syro Phoenician woman. He was distressed and said he was tired of the way the New Testament routinely portrayed Jews as racists. We need to take seriously that our sacred texts hurt others. So we need to treat lightly. Of course we can provide alternative points of view. I explained that because of a pagan woman arguing back Jesus changed his opinion. The way in the Hebrew scriptures you argue with God because God will change his mind. But I couldn’t take away the initial impression of the story for him even if I was to offer him an alternative. The Bible however positive about women was mostly written by men. And it is still mostly interpreted by men. We can’t dodge that bullet but we can do something about it – more women interpreters please! Good post.

    By John Griffiths - 15th November 2019
  5. Hmm yes, she needs to know about the caring God of the Bible, but I think she was being pretty gentle on the Bible. In the past it was perceived by women as part of their immediate problem. Trapped in abusive marriages, condemned to endless pregnancies and with no access to their own property. As I understand it women got release from these problems from people who used the Bible to justify the abuse. I fear that women in those days thought that if they wanted those freedoms they had to reject the Bible. Were there any Christians arguing for women’s rights, from the Bible? Josephine Butler perhaps…

    By Owen Thurtle - 15th November 2019
  6. Great piece, and also a good point Owen.
    I too feel passionate about addressing some of the simplistic thinking about scripture in secular minds & media…

    By Bruce Gulland - 15th November 2019
  7. Brilliant piece! Thank you, Nell. Your conclusion is spot on – all that any of us needs is the person of Jesus, a real relationship with him. But we all have different paths to meet him. So maybe Caitlin Moran is on to something? We have many different translations of the Bible already eg The Message, which adopts a contemporary style to connect with modern generations; local dialect versions to connect with local communities; many different language versions to reach folk in different countries, regions and tribes . So maybe a translation for women could highlight the threads of Biblical culture, revolutionary female roles and social justice leadership that you allude to, plus many others. This could make the Bible more accessible and obviously relevant to many contemporary women who don’t know Jesus, providing another path to Him.

    By David Henderson - 15th November 2019
  8. I have been reading about the women of the new testament and have seen one or two programs on TV.

    They are present and some are prominent , but it appears that in subsequent centuries their role especially in building community have been subverted by successive cultures favouring men, especially where they are in authority.

    This has lasted for centuries, Is there now a slow reversal occurring these days or is it just an illusion?

    By Keith Moscrop - 15th November 2019
  9. I agree that we don’t need a different bible but as a Christian woman who has studied our scriptures over many years there is no mistaking the interpretive hurdles women have to overcome to believe its as valid for them as it is for men – and to ‘hear’ the Spirit speak. A guide to the tools of interpretation need to be given and/or published with every bible, as well as the understanding that there are several equally valid methods of interpretation.

    By Maureen Dew - 15th November 2019
  10. I’ve just started reading “Valiant or Virtuous?” by Suzanne McCarthy (subtitled “Gender Bias in Bible Translation “. It might contribute to this conversation.

    By Gary Nielsen - 15th November 2019
  11. Thank you LICC,
    I am enjoying “Scattered & Gathered” which arrived yesterday 16th (fast delivery – great), not knowing that Ken Benjamin’s Seminar that day would be so inclusive of your material.
    It was a brilliant t seminar – now backed up and expanded through my reading.
    Thank you Neil Hudson.
    God bless
    Lynn

    By LYNN Mynett - 17th November 2019
  12. As a woman, I always feel sorry for men reading the Bible. Christ came to die and take home His Bride and it makes me so happy.

    By Kathleen Blain - 20th November 2019

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