Reading the Bible as a Woman: Why Revisit Genesis?

It is my desire is to help women read the Bible in a fresh way. This will give them a new perspective. It will help them see the how the traditional reading, which is by and from a male perspective has introduced a bias to the reading.

I am very aware that this is a debate central to a reformation of the church and I have been engaged at its very heart with many others interested in biblical equality in the church and home over many years. My hope is that study will influence the church and thereby society in this and succeeding generations.

The questions I ask when reading the Scriptures are these: are the Hebrew (Old Testament) scriptures written only for the men of Israel? Are the New Testament scriptures written only for men, albeit now of all nations? Have male translators, interpreters and commentators constructed a community of male elites and thus women become the excluded other? How does this thereby marginalize women to the sidelines.

I hope my discussion will raise significant questions among women who feel sidelined when reading the scriptures. I also hope it will highlight how this damaging attitude is widespread and if not brought to a halt, will cause an ever-widening gap in the Christian community.

In the past scholars have identified and examined three types of marginalization and I will add a fourth.

      • the person between cultures or cultural worlds.
      • involuntary marginality of the ‘poor and expendable’ or of a culture or society.
      • voluntary marginality, based on a conscious choice to live outside the norms and structures of a given social system.
      • And my fourth: being a woman.

All women do not necessarily fit within the first three yet are identified within the fourth and by that fact alone, experience some form of discrimination and marginalization.

The focus of my study is women who identify as Christian and how the destructive influence of male bias occurs firstly in the interpretation of scripture and second, in failure to recognize women’s gifts and calling in the Christian community. This results in women being under-used in the church, to its detriment resulting in a negative rather than a positive influence on society at large.

I challenge the Christian community, whose elite members remain predominately male, leaders to examine and ponder their elitist attitudes.

Change your mind, interpret the scriptures in such a way as to be more inclusive of the women, all women not just those few token women deemed acceptable, so long as they keep to their designated place. Examine yourself and your attitudes. Study to show yourself approved, by all those you teach, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Preach and teach in such a way as to show all the biblical characters, named and unnamed, had their important part to play in the formation of Israel, the early church, and the overall plan of God. By so doing you are in harmony with the Spirit of love, peace, and unity, thereby making the church of Jesus Christ prepared for his return.

Patricia Erlandsen