19th Century Female Biblical Interpreters

The following is a guest post from Amanda MacInnis-Hackney who is a Ph.D. student at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. The post originally appeared on her blog. You can also find her on twitter @CWtheology.


L-R: Lissa Wray Beal (Providence); Rachel Krohn (Wycliffe); Marion Taylor (editor of the volume; Wycliffe); Christiana de Groot (editor of the volume; Calvin).

One of the highlight’s of this year’s CETA (Canadian Evangelical Theological Association) conference was the panel discussion on the newly released Women of War, Women of Woe: Joshua and Judges through the Eyes of Nineteenth-Century Female Biblical Interpreters.

I’m only just now finally reading this superb volume, and I am struck by several things. First, in all of my biblical studies classes, the focus has always been on historical critical interpretation. Citing theological sources, or biblical commentaries that were more than 10 years old was considered bad research. Newer was always better. I think this methodology feeds into the problem I identified in yesterday’s post that the modern age suffers from a self-centred historical amnesia in which we are the enlightened generation and we are the first and only to consider the “obscure” passages of Scripture and we read them, or “recover” them because no one else before us has, supposedly. Continue reading

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Need a Textbook on Biblical Hermeneutics?

If you are teaching an introductory course on biblical hermeneutics or need a resource for a class that touches on the subject matter, you might consider Jeannine K. Brown’s book Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics. Brown provides a clearly written and accessible discussion that takes students through complex theories, while presenting her own perspective on Scriptural interpretation. Brown proposes a model for treating exegesis as communication, stating that “interpersonal categories are truer to an understanding of the Bible as Scripture and more useful than models that primarily emphasize the text as code” (p. 15). While not taking a simplistic understanding of authorial intention, she does stress the importance of not treating the text as purely autonomous as though no communication was being attempted by the writer.

JbrownScriptureThe book has twelve chapters divided into two main sections: “Theoretical Perspectives on Scripture as Communication” and “Practical Guidance for Interpreting Scripture as Communication.” The first section covers terminology and summarizes various theoretical models already circulating such as speech-act theory, relevance theory, and literary theory. She discusses various perspectives on authorial intention, the relationship between text and reader, and how we define “meaning.” Brown also provides a short overview of two hundred years on hermeneutics, starting with Friedrich Schleiermacher.

In the second section, Brown discusses practical matters of interpretation such as attending to genre (especially poetry, epistle, and narrative). The choice of genre is intentional on the part of the author as a way to communicate. For example, poets tend to use sounds and images to make a point. In other chapters, she also discusses the languages of Scripture and how language works as communication, along with the social world of the Bible, literary context, and canon. Finally, Brown addresses how we might recontextualize Scripture so that its sacred message shapes us in the here and now.

Thanks to BakerAcademic for providing a complimentary copy of this book upon request.

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A (Not Entirely) Foolproof Guide to Getting Published for Academics: Part II

In this post Katya Covrett continues her discussion on how to become a published author. Be sure to check out Part I as well. Covrett (MTS, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is Executive Editor at Zondervan Academic.

Find an editor

An acquisitions editor (also called acquiring or commissioning editor) is the one who seeks out authors and books for a publisher. Some academic acquisitions editors have a focus in a particular discipline, like theology or the Old Testament or biblical studies in general, or in a particular category, such as textbooks or reference books; others are generalists and acquire broadly across the publisher’s spectrum. Continue reading

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A (Not Entirely) Foolproof Guide to Getting Published for Academics: Part I

In a previous post Katya Covrett discussed the shortage of published works by female authors in biblical and theological studies. In this post she offers professional tips on how to get published. Covrett (MTS, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is Executive Editor at Zondervan Academic.

While there is no truly foolproof way to get published, with proper homework and preparation, one may greatly increase their chances. In the next two posts I will go over the basic steps of academic publishing with comments on each and a few “Pro Tips” along the way. At this point I am assuming several things: 1) you are a scholar seeking to publish academically; 2) you already have a desire and motivation to publish; 3) you have a book idea or at least an area of interest for publishing.[1]

I am grateful to my colleagues Nancy Erickson (Zondervan Academic), Stan Gundry (Zondervan Academic), Jim Kinney (Baker Academic), Robin Parry (Wipf and Stock), and Dan Reid (IVP Academic) for reviewing these posts and offering their critical and constructive feedback.

Put together a proposal

Most publishers make their publishing decisions based on a book proposal; most book proposals contain similar information. Here I will outline key elements of a book proposal. Continue reading

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What I Learned about Gender (and Diversity) from Christian Academic Publishing

This post by Katya Covrett originally appeared on A Pilgrim in Narnia blog in December 2015 in response to the blogger’s critique of the Zondervan Academic catalog.

katya 2 low res I am a woman. I am the wife of one and the mother of two, a teen and a tween, so life is full. I am an editor at a Christian publishing house—and an academic editor at that. Nerd that I am, I am more prone to cuddle up with a heavy exposition of Romans or the latest and greatest work of theology—with a red pen to boot—than with a bestselling Amish romance novel. As if I did not already have enough in my life, I am exploring a doctoral program on another continent. I am Russian—not just by birth but by upbringing. As such, I did not grow up in what the popular opinion regards as the “civilized West,” and so, to an extent, I represent a degree of ethnic diversity and can still fake a pretty heavy Russian accent when necessary (and, yes, I have a large cat to go with it).

I came to the United States in the late ‘90s to study in seminary and, undoubtedly, to change the world. A minority among the few counseling-major women in my class, I enrolled in a decidedly academic track, majoring in systematic theology and the New Testament (yes, it is possible). Mere months after graduation I entered the world of Christian publishing as an editorial assistant in Zondervan’s church, reference, and academic division. Within a couple of years I was acquiring academic books. Continue reading

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Interview: Cyndi Parker

Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock) from Mount of Olives (Cyndi Parker)Dr. Cyndi Parker teaches 3-week intensive courses in Israel at Jerusalem University College, as well as by invitation to various churches and institutions. She holds a BA in French and Business Studies from Butler University, MA in Old Testament and MA in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies from the University of Gloucestershire.

How did you decide to become a biblical scholar? Share your autobiographical journey.

I became a biblical scholar a little reluctantly. I know that sounds weird, but growing up, I felt like I had been badly wounded by people in the Church who demeaned intelligent and self-motivated females. When I went to college, my professors talked about the silliness of believing in religion, and since I wanted to be brilliant, well spoken, and intelligent, I believed them. I was introduced to feminist ideas, which ultimately helped me put words around some of the deep hurt created by male leadership in church. I walked away from religion, from the church, and from God, and it was only through the patient, consistent pull of God that I eventually returned.

When I considered pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology, a trusted advisor of mine stepped in and stated that he thought I should consider biblical studies instead. Although I initially resented the suggestion, I quickly realized he was right. My biggest life questions, my biggest anxiety, and yet my biggest source of hope came from theology. I knew I needed to be in biblical studies even if it was only to be the female example in the church that I never had. I pursued graduate work in the Old Testament because I related to the life struggles and the difficult questions posed by people in the Old Testament. Continue reading

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Dr. Stephanie Crowder Discusses Mark 6

The Rev. Dr. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder share her brief thoughts on Mark 6:1-13. Crowder is professor of New Testament Studies at Belmont University.

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Beverly Roberts Gaventa on Faith and Scholarship

The following excerpts are from I (Still) Believe: Leading Bible Scholars Share Their Stories of Faith and Scholarship (2015). Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Baylor University. Her chapter in the book is entitled “A Word of Gratitude.”

Where does the story begin, the story of my vocation as a student and teacher of the Bible? Perhaps it begins when I was nine, when we moved to a house within walking distance of the public library . . . or perhaps it dates from that same year, with the traumatic loss of my beloved maternal grandmother . . . but what stands out in my memory is a class on Paul’s letter to the Romans at Union Theological Seminary in New York during the second semester of 1970-71. I applied for and entered the MDiv program to use it as a platform for making my way into doctoral work in Reformation studies or perhaps theology and literature, but the MDiv required courses in Bible, much to my dismay, as I was sure that my scholarly interests lay elsewhere. To make the best of this requirement, I selected a course on Romans, knowing (however vaguely) its importance for the history of Christian thought. And that was it. Like tee-totaling Liza Hamilton in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, who is never again entirely sober after her doctor orders a sip of whiskey at bedtime, I never walked away (pp. 83-84).

Continue reading

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Book Spotlight: Nyasha Junior on Womanist Biblical Interpretation

Dr. Nyasha Junior recently published a new book that sold out at the SBL conference in November: An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation through Westminster John Knox Press. Dr. Junior is an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. See her answers to our questions about the book after the publisher’s description:

This book offers a much-needed introduction to womanist approaches to biblical interpretation. It argues that womanist biblical interpretation is not simply a by-product of feminist biblical interpretation but part of a distinctive tradition of African American women’s engagement with biblical texts. While womanist biblical interpretation is relatively new in the development of academic biblical studies, African American women are not newcomers to biblical interpretation. Moreover, although some African American women identify themselves as “womanists,” the term, its usage, its features, and its connection to feminism remain widely misunderstood. After providing historical background, Junior discusses the current state of womanist biblical interpretation and critical issues related to its development and future. This excellent and accessible resource is perfect for introducing readers to the development and applications of womanist biblical interpretation.

An-Introduction-to-Womanist-Biblical-InterpretationTake us “behind the scenes” to the making of An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation? What inspired you to write it?

I wrote the book for grad students who needed a basic introduction to womanist biblical introduction. I needed a book like this when I was in grad school and didn’t have one. So, I decided to write it myself. It was tough to decide what to include. I wanted to focus on womanist work, but I knew that I needed to provide considerable background information on both feminism and womanism for most readers.

Who do you hope will read this book and why?

The book is for anyone who is interested in womanist approaches in biblical studies, but I especially hope that M.Div. students will read it. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism and womanism, and in my experience, most M.Div. students haven’t had gender studies courses where those topics might have been covered.

What practical suggestions do you have for teachers, clergy, or facilitators for using this book in the classroom or faith communities?

Part one of the book covers historical background, while part two covers contemporary scholarship. If time is limited, start with chapter four, which discusses how womanist approaches are used within religious-studies-related fields such as ethics and theology. I’m really excited to have the book in students’ hands, and I hope that people will contact me to let me know how they are using it.

Tell Dr. Junior what you think of her new book. Visit her website (nyashajunior.com) and follow her on Twitter (@NyashaJunior).

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Blogger Spotlight: Liv Ingeborg Lied on 4 Ezra

Blogger Spotlight is a feature on the Women Biblical Scholars site that highlights women scholars who have their own blogs. One of their posts is selected for republication here to draw awareness to their blog. Today’s Blogger Spotlight is on Dr. Liv Ingeborg Lied, professor of religious studies at MF Norwegian School of Theology. Check out her blog, Religion – Manuscripts -Media Culture , for more of her writing.

Two Forgotten Sources of 4 Ezra

By Liv Ingeborg Lied

In the last few years, I have mentioned on two occasions manuscript witnesses to 4 Ezra that have apparently been left out of scholarly discussions focusing on this writing. In this post, I propose two possible reasons for this omission, and discuss why these manuscript sources to 4 Ezra deserve our attention. My interest here is not the decisions made by individual scholars, but rather the assessment schemes embedded in philological paradigms and the structuring effects of disciplinary borders to research practices.

My first example, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) Supplément turc 983, f 113/126, containing Syriac 4 Ezra 8:33-41a/8:41c-47, was discussed in the post “Recycling 4 Ezra” (12 February 2014) (here). As noted in that post, this single parchment leaf was published in 1993 by Bernard Outtier in the article, “Un fragment syriaque inédit de IV Esdras”. The leaf has been dated paleographically to the sixth century (Outtier) and also to the eighth to ninth centuries, by Franҫoise Briquel Chatonnet (“Manuscrits syriaque de la Bibliothèque nationale de France” […], 185). As I mentioned in the 2014 post, the fragment has played no role in the scholarly discussion of 4 Ezra.  Continue reading

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