Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the BibleSandra GlahnKregel Academic / 2018 / Trade Paperback$16.49 Retail:4.5 Stars Out Of 5 3 Reviews
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Andrew WenclIndianapolis, INAge: 25-34Gender: Male3 Stars Out Of 5Not all vixens, not all vindicatedJanuary 17, 2018Andrew WenclIndianapolis, INAge: 25-34Gender: MaleQuality: 4Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3The title Vindicating the Vixens may have an alliterative flair, but it somewhat distorts the point of the book unless the meaning of "vixen" is stretched beyond its normal use. The subtitle, Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, gives a clearer picture of what to expect. Both the preface and introduction give an apologetic for the work. "This is not some book written by theologically liberal, wannabe scholars attempting to be politically correct or manipulating the text in order to be culturally relevant" (22).
While I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the authors, I found some arguments almost as much of a stretch as applying the term "vixen" to Mary, the mother of Jesus and dedicating a whole chapter to her. For example, the chapter on Eve argues that her act of giving the forbidden fruit to Adam was apparently not an attempt to encourage him to disobey God's command not to eat of it.
The chapters with the best arguments (that is, those that make their case primarily from Scripture, church history, and common sense) were the following:
Tamar: The Righteous Prostitute
Bathsheba: Vixen or Victim?
Deborah: Only When a Good Man is Hard to Find?
Mary Magdalene: Repainting Her Portrait of Misconceptions
I certainly learned from reading this book, but the arguments in some chapters were not as compelling as I had expected them to be. Many authors stray from their subjects to provide extended commentary on matters that, though related, seemed outside the scope of the book.
I received a media copy of this book from the publisher in order to write my review.
1witness5 Stars Out Of 5Vindicating the Vixens...MUST READ for WOMENJanuary 15, 20181witnessQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Not since Liz Curtis Higgs wrote Bad Girls of the Bible have I given much thought to what it means to be a bad girl of the Bible. I was completely excited to read this book when the title was released from Kregel! I knew I had to read it because 1) I am female and 2) I am in the process of becoming a pastor and 3) I yearned as a woman to know the stories of these women much better than what I learned in Sunday school. From the first time I read Sin is certainly an equal opportunity enterprise I was hooked. However, I also expected this to be a book that would be females bashing men for their understanding of the women of the Bible. This, however, certainly wasnt the case. Instead I found a book that was Christ-centered and within the first chapter the reader is invited to participate by reading with discernment and even given six questions that help us to understand the text better:
What does the text actually say? What do I observe in and about the text? What did this text mean to the original audience? What was the point? What truths in the text are timelessly relevant? And how does the part fit the whole?
The great thing about this collection is that it starts to set the record straight of so many women who have a bad reputation in the Bible. Glahn cites as examples blaming Eve for the guilt of the human race, or blaming Sarah for the political tensions in the modern Middle East. Popular preachers can make a great sermon by maligning Bathsheba as a vixen or the Samaritan women as an adulterer, or Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. Other women are marginalized. Glahn notes the omission of Deborah and Huldah from charts of the prophets in some study Bibles, or (I would add) the translation of servant in the ESV instead of deacon (NRSV) in Romans 16:1 as well as the always controversial status of Junia in Romans 16:7. The essays in this collection hopes to correct popular misconceptions about some women in the Bible by paying careful attention to the cultural and social context as well as the literary form of the biblical text. For me, I love the fact that his book has a generally conservative view of Scripture, and there is nothing controversial about this.
If you are looking for a book on the women of the Bible who have been marginalized; then this is a great book and I whole heartedly recommend it.
This book was provided to me for free by the publisher for an unbiased opinion and review.
James Bradford Pate5 Stars Out Of 5Book Write-Up: Vindicating the VixensJanuary 11, 2018James Bradford PateQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0As the title indicates, this book is about women in the Bible who have been marginalized or even vilified in conservative Christian culture. The authors themselves are conservative Christians, in that they have a strong view of the inspiration of Scripture and the historicity of the stories in the Bible. They have different levels of scholarly credentials, with some contributors having Ph.D.s, and some having masters degrees.
In this review, I will comment briefly on each essay, to provide you with the flavor of the book.
Preface, by Sandra Glahn, Ph.D.
What stood out to me is Glahns reference to the argument that Scripture marginalizes Deborah because Hebrews 11:32 mentions Barak but not Deborah. Glahn disagrees, but she does not detail why. A later essay in the book actually uses Hebrews 11:32 to undercut a popular conservative Christian talking-point.
Introduction: The Hermeneutics of Her,' by Henry Rouse, Th.M.
This essay covers methodological issues.
Chapter 1: Tamar: The Righteous Prostitute, by Carolyn Custis James, M.A.
This essay defends Tamar, affirming that she faithfully performed her duty to her late husband. It effectively discussed the motivations of the characters in Genesis 38. For example, it talked about the economic motivations that Ornan had for depriving Tamar of his seed.
Chapter 2: Rahab: What We Talk about When We Talk about Rahab, by Eva Bleeker, M.A.
This essay explores the possibility that the Israelite spies sought to sleep with Rahab the prostitute when they stayed with her. That was not its only point, but it was one of the issues that it explored.
Chapter 3: Ruth: The So-Called Scandal, by Marnie Legaspi, Th.M.
This essay attempts to refute the idea that Ruth was sexually propositioning Boaz while he was drunk.
Chapter 4: Bathsheba: Vixen or Victim?, by Sarah Bowler, Th.M.
This essay argues that Bathsheba was a victim. Some of its arguments are speculative and not very convincing. For example, why wouldnt the prophet Nathan talk to Bathsheba had she done something wrong? He talked to David, who clearly had done something wrong. Still, the essay does well to highlight that there is no evidence in the Bible that Bathsheba sought to seduce David, and her argument about the location of purificatory baths is plausible. Bowler also powerfully argued against the tendency of some conservative Christians to treat statutory rape as consensual sex, for which both victimizer and victim are responsible.
Chapter 5: The Virgin Mary: Reclaiming Our Respect, by Timothy Ralston, Ph.D.
Among other things, this essay addressed the question of how Mary could seemingly doubt Jesus mission (Mark 3:21, 32), while having learned from an angel that Jesus was the Messiah. Ralston speculates that Mary had nationalistic Messianic expectations. This essay is also useful in describing the development and history of concepts within Mariology.
Chapter 6: Eve: The Mother of All Seducers?, by Glenn Kreider, Ph.D.
This essay plausibly argues that Adam was physically with Eve at the temptation (Genesis 3:6), yet it criticizes the conservative Christian talking-point that Adam should have exercised moral leadership over Eve. The essay was somewhat thin in addressing Gods criticism of Adam for listening to the voice of his wife (Genesis 3:17).
Chapter 7: Sarah: Taking Things into Her Own Hands or Seeking to Love?, by Eugene Merrill, Ph.D.
This essay is informative in referring to how ancient Near Eastern culture could form the backdrop for some of the customs in the Abraham and Sarah story, while acknowledging that some of the customs are attested later than the time when Abraham and Sarah allegedly lived. This essay gives Sarah the benefit of a doubt in terms of her interactions with Hagar and Ishmael, whereas the following essay is more supportive of Hagar and Ishmael.
Chapter 8: Hagar: God Names Adam, Hagar Names God, by Tony Maalhouf, Ph.D.
This essay is critical of the saddening tendency of some conservative Christians to blame Hagar for the Middle Eastern conflict, which is based on the assumption that Ishmael was the ancestor of the Arabs. Maalhouf also offers an alternative interpretation of Genesis 16:12 to the one that asserts that Ishmael was violent.
Chapter 9: Deborah: Only When a Good Man Is Hard to Find?, by Ron Pierce, Ph.D.
This essay argues against a popular Christian conservative claim that God only accepted Deborahs leadership because good men were not stepping forward to lead. As Pierce argues, a good man did step forward, Barak, yet God still supported Deborahs leadership. The essay offered an intriguing explanation for how the city of Abel Beth Maacah may relate to the story of Deborah, as the term mother of Israel appears in both Judges 5:7 and II Samuel 20:19 (where Abel Beth Maacah appears). Pierce tends to regard the poetry and prose in the Deborah story as consistent with each other, whereas more liberal scholars have treated them as independent. Treating them as consistent does not always work: Pierce, for example, interprets Judges 5:27 as Siseras attempt to rape Jael, which is an understandable interpretation, although it is not salient in the prose (where Jael kills Sisera when he is asleep, not when he is trying to rape her). Pierce highlights that rape is a theme in the Judges story, however, particularly in what Siseras mother says in Judges 5.
Chapter 10: Huldah: Malfunction with the Wardrobe-Keepers Wife, by Christa L. McKirland, Th.M.
This chapter is interesting because it interacts with how Jewish and Christian interpreters throughout history have addressed the prophetess Huldah. Unfortunately, McKirland laments, they have often asked why God did not consult Jeremiah or Zechariah, as if Huldah was Gods Plan B. McKirland critiques that assumption.
Chapter 11: Vashti: Dishonored for Having Honor, by Sharifa Stevens, Th.M.
This chapter is interesting because it refers to the history of interpretation of Vashti, as well as what Herodotus says about Xerxes wife (who has a different name in Herodotus story). What they say is negative. Unfortunately, Stevens does not really account for why Herodotus is so negative about her. Stevens discusses how God replaced a strong woman with another strong woman, namely, Esther. She also tells a compelling personal story about rejection, and how she struggled to move on from that.
Chapter 12: The Woman at the Well: Was the Samaritan Woman Really an Adulteress?, by Lynn Cohick, Ph.D.
Cohick seeks to refute the assumption that the woman at the well (John 3) was a loose woman.
Chapter 13: Mary Magdalene: Repainting her Portrait of Misconceptions, by Karla Zazueta, M.A.
Zazueta argues against the idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. The essay mentioned that the Talmud presents the area of Magdala as a morally-depraved area, but it does not do anything with that reference. The essay also explores what Marys possession by seven demons might have meant.
Chapter 14: Junia/Joanna: Herald of the Good News, by Amy Peeler, Ph.D.
Romans 16:7 mentions Junia, and there have been many interpreters who argue that the passage means that the woman Junia was an apostle. Peeler agrees with this interpretation, while denying that it is relevant to debates on womens ordination. Peeler offers some arguments against the scholarly grammatical arguments of Michael Burer and Dan Wallace that Junia was not an apostle. Peeler discusses the history of interpretation about Junia, particularly among church fathers. Peeler speculates about the horrors that Junia may have experienced in prison, based on what women in that historical context endured there. That presented Junia as courageous in her Christian convictions. The essay also discussed what her apostleship may have meant: Paul in I Corinthians 15:7 mentions apostles who saw the risen Christ, and they appear to be distinct from the Twelve (see v 5). Peeler speculates that Junia may have been Johanna (Luke 24:10), changing her name as other Jews Latinized their names for the benefit of their Roman neighbors. This was the richest essay in the book.
The book is interesting because it offers alternative interpretations and fresh insights. Some interpretations were more convincing than others, but all were worth reading.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!
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