Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis

By Marion Ann Taylor; Heather E. Weir | Go to book overview

§58 Mary L. T. Witter
(fl. 1870–1900)

Mary Witter was a Canadian writer who wrote several books on the Bible.21

The book cited below, The Edomites: Their History as Gathered from the Holy Scriptures (1888), was written for the young. Witter attempted to write a connected history of the Edomites from the fragmentary references to them in twenty-four books of the Bible. In her preface, she warned her readers not to use her book as a substitute for studying the Bible, but as an aid to its study.22 Witter used a number of standard Bible reference works. In her preface she listed the following as particularly helpful: "Josephus, Smith's Bible Dictionary, Bush's Notes on Genesis, and Barnes' Notes on the Acts of the Apostles."23

Like Warner, Witter enhanced the story of Rebekah by giving a detailed account of the geography of Rebekah's and Eliezer's journey from Haran to Abraham's household near Lahai-roi. Also like Warner, Witter used places along the journey as prompts for Eliezer to tell the story of Abraham's family to Rebekah. Witter presented these discussions on the journey as catechistic: readers overhear the lessons Eliezer taught Rebekah about the history of salvation.

Witter read the story of Rebekah in light of the larger history of salvation. Like Hasell, she noted a parallel between Rebekah and Mary—Rebekah and Mary both privately pondered promises given to them about their children. Witter also assumed Rebekah knew the promise made to Eve and desired to be the ancestress of the promised seed.

Witter's understanding of women's roles and character was traditional. She reinforced the Christian message of sacrificial ministry, but for her, like many

21 For more information about Witter see part 3, "Hagar—The Wanderer."

22 Mary L. T. Witter, The Edomites: Their History as Gathered from the Holy Scriptures
(Halifax, NS: S. Sheldon, 1888), 3.

23 Witter, The Edomites, 3. Many editions of Josephus's works were available in the nine-
teenth century. William Smith, A Concise Dictionary of the Bible (first published 1865). George
Bush, Notes on Genesis (New York, 1852). Albert Barnes, Notes Explanatory and Practical, on
the Acts of the Apostles
(London, 1841).

-307-

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