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

§81 Mrs. Donaldson
(fl. 1882)

Little is know about Mrs. Donaldson; her name, like that of Lot's wife, has been lost to history. Mrs. Donaldson led mothers' meetings for poor women in her husband's parish of St. Stephen's, Spitalfields, in East London. She was commended for her work by William Walsham How (1823–1897), who was the assistant bishop for East London at the time the book was published. He was also the author of a number of commentaries, books of practical theology and devotion, and almost sixty hymns. While How was in East London, he took a keen interest in the spiritual renewal of his diocese and established the East London Church Fund, for which he raised large sums. Bishop How's preface to Donaldson's book suggests that he was supportive of her teaching and evangelistic ministry to women. Indeed, he claimed this book was "just what one wants," for use in mothers' meetings. "Poor weary women, in such a population as East London, want very plain teaching, and very kind loving words."33

Donaldson's approach to Lot's wife was very similar to Ashton's. They both used Luke 17:32 as the interpretive key for reading, applying, and preaching the story of the "sad tragedy of Lot's wife." Donaldson imaginatively and romantically fleshed out the reasons for Lot's wife's demise. Unlike other women who used historical records to make the events of the story seem more plausible, Donaldson suggested that she could "fill up" the story further "to make the event appear even more real and solemn." She applied the story to the lives of her audience using an allegory. Like Lot's wife, her readers had to flee from the wrath that was about to come upon the City of Destruction (moral Sodom), to the mountain (likened to the Rock of Ages), to take shelter in God. Donaldson used the metaphor of a journey to describe the Christian life. She emphasized the power that women had, and, even more powerfully than Ashton, Donaldson employed guilt and fear tactics to motivate women

33 Mrs. Donaldson, Home Duties for Wives and Mothers, Illustrated by Women of Scripture
(London: William Hunt, 1882), vi.

-420-

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