Images of Faith: Spirituality of Women in the Old Testament // Review

Article excerpt

Images of Faith is a good contribution to a re-examination of the Scriptures, particularly from a third world feminist perspective. Gallares, a Filipina, focuses on the biblical women who were essentially ignored by the male-dominated and Eurocentric church tradition, because of their gender, race and/or socio-economic class. Hagar, Rahab, Jephthah's daughter, Ruth and Naomi, Abigail, and the two unnamed women of 2 Kings. These women were either pagan or poor, and thus were considered negative models for spirituality, comparing with those of Sarah, Deborah, Esther the queen, and Mary. These women were marginalized not only by men, but also by other women who had different cultural background and class interests. Gallares dusts off these women figures from the darkness of ignorance and prejudice, and shows that these women are "hidden treasures" for new paradigms of faith.

In the act of bringing these marginalized women into the centre of biblical spirituality, Gallares finds that their lives are stark reflections of the ongoing struggles of today's women, especially those from the third world who are the subjects of "triple oppressions." Gallares sees that there are significant similarities between Hagar's plight and those of women of colour who are the cheapest domestic labor in foreign countries; between Rahap and Asian girls who have to entertain foreign tourists; between Jephthan's daughter and female children abused within the family; between Ruth and Naomi and urban poor women; and between the two unnamed women in 2 Kings and widows and single mothers faced with a life of poverty. Such similarities between these biblical fore-mothers and today's women exist not only in their external conditions but also in their strong inner resistance against all forms of oppression, in their wisdom gained through the bitter experiences of harsh life, and in their deep faith in God, who sees their plight and hears their cry in the midst of the wilderness of this life.

However, it is advisable to add that the comparison of plights between the biblical women and contemporary third world women is more symbolic than identical. Even if one names the common element of women's oppression as patriarchy, patriarchy is not monolithic but historically various. …


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