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
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§76 Sarah Ewing Hall
(1761–1830)

Sarah Hall was an educator writing in the United States for young people.17 Her book, Conversations on the Bible (1818), retold and commented upon the Old Testament story of salvation history. The book was written in the form of a conversation between a mother and her three children. In this selection on Lot's wife, Mother told the story, and Charles and Catherine asked pointed questions that allowed Hall to discuss the issue of the historicity of the story and its literal and spiritual sense. By portraying Lot positively, Hall contrasted his behaviour with that of his wife who disobeyed "an express command, 'not to look back.'" To a large extent Hall resisted the temptation felt by most interpreters to explain at length why Lot's unnamed wife looked back; rather, she showed empathy for Lot's wife, suggesting that perhaps she was "bewailing" her unworthy city and friends and forgot the divine injunction. Hall included a brief discussion of the debate over the pillar of salt by inserting a child's question on whether the "metamorphosis is to be literally true." Hall's Mother character was ambiguous about the historicity of the story; this underscored one of the character's (and thus Hall's) stated purposes in teaching, to encourage her children to examine scriptures themselves as they matured.18

17 For further biographical information on Sarah Hall see part 2, "Sarah—First Mother
of Israel."

18 Sarah Hall, Conversations on the Bible (Philadelphia: Harrison Hall, 1827), 16.

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