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Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne Paperback – August 14, 2017
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About the Author
Wil Gafney is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel and coeditor of The People's Bible and The People's Companion to the Bible. Visit her website at wilgafney.com.
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Because this is a self-acknowledged Midrash, Dr. Gafney makes interpretive choices. Not all of her "sanctified imagining" (a term used repeatedly throughout the book) can be fully supported by the text, but she goes to great pains to ensure that those interpretive choices are well-grounded within the text of the Hebrew Bible, ancient interpretive traditions, and the culture of the time.
I think this book is a very important book for ministers to read because it causes us to question our received interpretations of many biblical passages. I consider myself to have a fairly open mind when it comes to biblical interpretation, and yet Dr. Gafney's womanist perspective provides commentary and insights that I, as a straight, white man in ministry have never before considered (and I find myself now questioning how I could not have ever considered some of these things).
This book is a reminder that the Western, androcentric approach to scripture does not have a monopoly on biblical interpretation, and that serious students of scripture should engage with many other perspectives to try and get a more complete picture of what is going on in the biblical narratives.
I learned so much from this book. While Gafney is a Hebrew and Bible scholar and incredibly knowledgeable in translation and interpretation, she never makes the reader feel like they can not understand the text as well. Each time she would define and explain the text in Hebrew, it would open my eyes to a whole new world.
While the book is extensive in academic interpretation and information of the text, my heart was more touched than my mind. Gafney's Midrash of the verses often left me in tears. I was suddenly there, in the text, living, feeling, and breathing each word. She would repeat the phrase "When I use my sanctified imagination..." when she would begin her Midrash. By the middle of the book, my body would have a visceral reaction to this little phrase, knowing that something holy and profound and inspired was about to come my way. I am looking forward to reading so much of this book again and again.
I finished reading my copy today and was sad for the book to end. I especially appreciated her perspective on the Royal Women of Israel and Judah--a unique offering in biblical scholarship. She made these women, who generally are barely mentioned in the biblical text, and their stories come alive. Her notes on translation as art and science gave the reader a glimpse of the often mysterious world of what goes on in a translator's mind..
Scholarly yet accessible, creative yet rigorous, Gafney opens the door to Womanist thought and biblical interpretation to anyone who would enter in. From first word to last, she captures the depth of literary treasure in the biblical text. Her focus on women assures that women, whose stories are often overlooked and undervalued, will be overlooked and undervalued no more!
Dr. Alfie Wines