Women's Bible Commentary

By Zucker, David J. | Jewish Bible Quarterly, January-March 2015 | Go to article overview

Women's Bible Commentary


Zucker, David J., Jewish Bible Quarterly


Women's Bible Commentary, 3rd edition, Carol A. Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, eds. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2012). Reviewed by David J. Zucker.

As people who engage seriously with Tanakh, readers of The Jewish Bible Quarterly are well aware that the vast majority of the human figures named in the Bible are male. Women's voices too often are either completely silenced or simply not presented. Throughout history, men's voices totally dominated commentary, and then scholarship, on the Bible. It has only been in the last decades that women's voices, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have come of age, certainly in the field of scholarship. In the early 1990's, Carol Newsom and Sharon Ringe edited The Women's Bible Commentary. That volume, written by women from a woman's or feminist perspective, became a bestseller. The audience was both women and men.

This is an updated and expanded version. Running to over 650 pages, it is about 50 percent larger than the original work. This present commentary features articles dealing with each book of the Tanakh, plus the Christian Scriptures, as well as those works known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. Since the primary audience for this work is the Christian community, the order of books in the Hebrew Bible follows the Protestant tradition: the Pentateuch, followed by the historical books, the Wisdom/Poetry section, and the Prophets. Special articles are devoted, among others, to "Eve and Her Interpreters," "Sarah, Hagar, and Their Interpreters," "Miriam and Her Interpreters," and "Jephtha's Daughter and Her Interpreters." There are also special articles in the sections dealing with the Apocrypha and Christian Scriptures. Other articles of note include "When Women Interpret the Bible."

The editors address some of the profound changes in feminist biblical criticism in the past two decades. "Issues that were just beginning to be explored the hermeneutical significance of sexual identity, analysis of masculinity, and postcolonial positioning" are now part of feminist criticism. Further, there has been an explosion of feminist biblical critics. Many authors featured in the original volume appear here, but they have revised their chapters, sometimes significantly. There also are the works of younger scholars. While recognizing that feminist biblical studies are a worldwide phenomenon, this volume focuses on North American feminist scholarship. …

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