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

§45 M. G.
(fl. 1893)

M. G. chose to publish anonymously. The only details of her life that can be recovered are found in the introduction and chapters of her only known publication Women Like Ourselves: Short Addresses for Mothers' Meetings, Bible Classes, etc. (1893). M. G. delivered the addresses printed in this book to classes of women, probably in an Anglo-Catholic parish, and later wrote them down from memory. M. G. was an experienced teacher of mothers' meetings (classes held for mothers in a parish) and Bible classes. She published her addresses as an expert, for the benefit of inexperienced teachers. M. G. aimed to present the women of the Bible as real people who were tempted as her contemporaries were and who acted "exactly as we ourselves would be likely to act under the same circumstances."29 The oral qualities of the addresses, complete with rhetorical questions, sets M. G.'s writing apart from the work of other women.

M. G. read the Bible intertextually and poetically.30 She moves from Hagar's wandering in the desert to the Luke 15 image of lost sheep wandering off. The image of the lost sheep then set up a connection with John 10's image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep by name. The Angel of the Lord who called Hagar by name was thus identified with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Another wanderer associated with Hagar is the bride in Song of Songs. In the verse M. G. referred to, the bride is abused by the watchmen (Song of Songs 5:7); M. G. spiritualized this verse and gave it a positive reading that reinforced the connection with Hagar. This juxtaposition of texts is unusual but consistent throughout this address.

M. G. taught with a heavy hand. She emphasized God's retributive justice rather than God's mercy and grace. She spoke severely to mothers, reminding them of their power over their children and warning them to be careful to teach their children properly. With a mother's great influence comes great responsibility.

29 M. G., Women Like Ourselves: Short Addresses for Mothers' Meetings, Bible Classes, etc.
(London: SPCK, 1893), iv.

30 This kind of reading is also done by Christina Rossetti in The Face of the Deep.

-230-

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