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

§49 Mary L. T. Witter
(fl. 1870–1900)

Little is known about Mary L. T. Witter, a Canadian from Berwick, Nova Scotia, married to James S. Witter. Witter wrote three works, A Book for the Young: being a history of the kings who ruled over God's Ancient people (1870), The Edomites (1888), and Angels (1900).

This excerpt from Angels comes from the chapter called "The Angel of the Lord." Witter discussed the story of Hagar at the beginning of her book because the angel of the Lord first appeared to Hagar. Though this book was not specifically on women, Witter clearly read the text as a woman. Her retelling of the story was also influenced by her focus on the angel of the Lord. She compared the angel of the Lord to a "tender mother."

Like Turnock, Witter had a very high view of the responsibility of a mother for the behavior and character of her children (and husband), and so Witter placed responsibility for Ishmael's poor behaviour on Hagar. Witter smoothed over the more difficult questions raised by the text. She placed a very cheerful spin on the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael. Witter made Hagar appear much more pious than did most of the other authors.

From Mary L. T. Witter, Angels (Glasgow: William Asher, 1900), 2–6.

Was it not God the Son who in the beginning created the heaven and the earth? "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that hath been made" "John 1:3". Was it not Christ who walked in the garden of Eden and clothed our first parents, thus prefiguring clothing man with His own righteousness? Was it not Christ who called Abraham out of Ur and bade him go to another country? But although it is presumable that all the manifestations of God recorded in the Old Testament were manifestations of the second subsistence of the Godhead, the Christ, yet I shall confine myself principally to those in which this Divine personage is designated the angel of the Lord.

We first meet with the term, "the angel of the Lord," about two thousand years before the incarnation. Abraham had been living several years in the land promised to his descendants, but as yet descendants he had none. Sarah, in this perplexity, gives her maid, according to the custom of the times, to her husband as secondary wife. The result is what might have been anticipated. Hagar, seeing she is likely to become a mother, treats her mistress with disre-

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