Should the Bible be rewritten to reflect today’s society? Several female theologians believe so and have put together a new version: A Women’s Bible, which was published in October 2018. A group of 18 scholars of varying Christian denominations met in Geneva to translate the newer, female-enhanced version into French. The goal was to update passages that “reinforce the patriarchal view of society with domesticated women,” said Elisabeth Parmentier, co-author of the Women’s Bible and a professor of theology at the University of Geneva.
Lutheran pastor Emily M.D. Scott wrote in The New York Times that she felt the Bible did not represent women correctly and tended to focus on them being subservient, oftentimes raped and abused. This, she claims, is a result of the authors being of the male persuasion:
“The myriad writers of our sacred stories, presumably all men, devote little time to women’s perspectives. When women appear, we are often mute or nameless, pawns in men’s games of war or violence, our reactions ‘unrecorded.’ But read between the lines of the Bible and you can detect the narratives of women deleted by uninterested editors, or left untold.”
The authors say that women were portrayed incorrectly, or that the interpretations were geared towards sexism. For example, Mary Magdalene was written as a prostitute. “She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection,” Parmentier said. Instead of being casted as a woman of the night, in this newest version, Mary Magdalene may very well end up being Jesus’ greatest disciple.
Distortion or Needed Revision?
Do we need to have the Bible rewritten with modern-day interpretations so that women will not be subjugated? Or is this another attempt to eradicate Christian beliefs?
Pastor Scott did not come out and say the Bible needed to be revised. Instead, she claims more attention to the treatment of women should be made known:
“If religious communities fail to tell stories that reflect the experience of the women of our past, we will inevitably fail to address the sense of entitlement, assumption of superiority and lust for punishment carried through those stories and inherited by men of the present.”
More teachings from the Bible is never a bad thing, but what will the new female-version do to His word? How many times are we going to rewrite and redefine the Holy Scripture? This certainly isn’t the first time.
Liberty Nation’s Leesa K. Donner reported on a college that added a subject to its curriculum: Queering the Bible. Swarthmore College billed the new course as a way to “survey gay and trans readings of biblical text.” The school’s catalog said the class “destabilizes long held assumptions about what the bible–and religion–says about gender and sexuality.”
To interpret means to explain or define something that resonates with one’s own beliefs, understanding, or knowledge of a subject. When five people reading the same poem for the first time are asked to give their interpretations of what the poet was trying to convey, it is highly unlikely that all five will come up with the same answers. As they read the passages, they form their own opinions. The words hold different meanings and the imagery paints a different portrait for each individual.
While it may be true that the original text of the Bible was written by men during a time when women were not considered equals, is it appropriate for self-proclaimed feminists — even though they are theologians — to redefine the Bible’s meanings according to their beliefs?
Why do liberals have to change history to meet today’s societal standing? History is what it is: what happened. We need to keep it pure to learn from our past mistakes. Rewriting it doesn’t change the events; nothing can do that. If the Bible had been written by women, there likely would have been a different slant. But it wasn’t, and the teachings have been good enough for two millennia. Why change it now? Let people read and interpret as they wish, using their own intelligence and common sense. We do not need a bunch of feminists redefining the Bible and the female figures into fictional characters that resonate with their imaginary ideals of what could have been.