Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

She Can Read: Feminist Reading Strategies for Biblical Narrative

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

She Can Read: Feminist Reading Strategies for Biblical Narrative

Article excerpt

She Can Read: Feminist Reading Strategies for Biblical Narrative. By Emily Cheney. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996. xiv + 192 pp. $18.00 (paper).

The author, New Testament scholar Emily Cheney, states that this book is the result of a search for liberating ways of reading Scripture in which the female reader can affirm herself and other women despite the "pervasive patriarchal context" (p. x) of the Bible. One of the key problems is that the implied audience of the Bible is male, and female readers are likely to adopt this viewpoint to their detriment. This viewpoint, moreover, is likely to find its way into the sermon. Cheney is concerned that by reinforcing patriarchal views and values, the Bible may serve to oppress rather than liberate women.

Cheney uses the tools of feminist literary criticism to analyze the problems which the Bible presents for women and to propose alternative reading strategies which are more conducive to affirming female identities and experiences. She is particularly concerned about addressing the needs of women preachers who wish to write biblically based sermons, but this is not the sole focus of the book. The Gospel of Matthew is selected as a "test case" for these proposed reading strategies because it is generally regarded as unsupportive of women.

Cheney first reviews three major approaches proposed by feminist biblical scholars to appropriate the Bible, in order to demonstrate that additional strategies are needed. She then reviews work by feminist literary critics and based on this work, proposes three alternative strategies for reading the Bible.

The first strategy is role reversal, that is, reversing the genders of the characters in the biblical text in order to "test whether the experience presented to female and male readers as normative is really normative" (p. …

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