Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Our St. Thomas colleague, Dr. Kelly Wilson, has started blogging! Her new blog, named Baqash Shalom, is an attempt to present simply the difficult concepts in biblical studies. She advertises, "This blog is for anyone who wishes they could take an undergraduate course on the Bible."

Kelly is an excellent scholar, whose dissertation and the work following her graduation from Catholic University has focused mostly on lament and performance criticism. These days, however, I think she is quite into narrative, feminist and gender criticisms, while always remaining historically focused and attune to literary forms. The reason for starting her blog, she notes, is that,
I have found myself fielding questions via text or email from friends and/or family members who wanted to start reading the Bible or who were involved in conversations with people on the Bible. They felt that they didn’t know where to begin or how to respond to people’s claims. I am getting more and more messages from people who are interested in learning more about the Bible so that they have some sort of framework in which to understand claims that people are making. And those claims about the Bible never end. Whether it is a debate over creationism vs. evolution, the “biblical view” of marriage, or anything else, the phrase “The Bible says…” often serves as a trump card, leaving silent those who feel like they don’t know enough about the Bible to respond.
While it is a new blog, with only a handful of posts, I'm definitely going to be checking in regularly. I particularly like her post on Eve, the Mother of All Living. In it she discusses the biblical account in Genesis and how later interpretations have vilified Eve.
Tertullian, a Christian author from the 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E. focused his attention on Eve in his writing, “On the Apparel of Women” where he suggested that all women are each an Eve and because of that we are (wait for it, Ladies, this is about to get good) “the devil’s gateway,” “the unsealer of that tree,” “the first deserter of the divine law,” we “persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack,” “destroyed God’s image, man,” and because of our actions “the Son of God had to die.”
Kelly suggests (and rightly so) that things could be understood differently.
During the 19th century suffrage movement in the US, women began to reread Eve’s story. Instead of relying on the male interpretations, they read with fresh eyes recognizing the male bias that permeated interpretations of Eve at every turn... The 20th century was full of female biblical scholars who followed the lead of Truth, Eddy, Stanton and other women who came before them. They read the story with fresh eyes. What emerged for them was an intelligent woman who engages in the first conversation about God in the Bible; one might even say that Eve was the first theologian.

Isaac M. Alderman

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