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Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne


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Womanist Midrash is an in- depth and creative exploration of the well- and lesser-known women of the Hebrew Scriptures. Using her own translations, Gafney offers a midrashic interpretation of the biblical text that is rooted in the African American preaching tradition to tell the stories of a variety of female characters, many of whom are often overlooked and nameless. Gafney employs a solid understanding of womanist and feminist approaches to biblical interpretation and the sociohistorical culture of the ancient Near East. This unique and imaginative work that is grounded in serious scholarship will expand conversations about feminist and womanist biblical interpretation.

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Key Features

  • Reintroduces the Scriptures through the stories of women in the text
  • Explores the distinctives of womanist and feminist interpretation
  • Offers an exegetical and hermeneutical study of the marginal and marginalized women as scriptural exemplars


  • Introduction: Women of the Torah and the Throne
  • Part I: Womanist Midrash on the Torah
  • Part II: Womanist Midrash on Women of the Throne

Praise for the Print Edition

Wherever there is space in Hebrew Scripture, Wil Gafney is hell-bent on filling it. Lucky for modern readers she is. Lots of places exist in Scripture where the names, voices, perspective, and contributions of women have been silenced or erased by male biblical writers themselves and centuries of ensuing (largely male) commentary. Inspired by the tradition of rabbinic sages to provide explanatory comments, expansive additions, illustrative anecdotes, and legendary stories to interpret texts fraught with silence, Gafney deftly deploys what she refers to uniquely as a womanist midrash (combining seriously impressive scholarship, a black womanist reading lens, and the inspiration of midrashic sages) to question and, best of all, fill in blanks to read women back into Scripture as divine agents who resisted, persisted, subverted, disrupted, and reconstituted the biblical (and the modern!) world order. Sure, every interpretation of biblical texts is a combination of the stories themselves and the location, interests, and biases of the person or groups reading the stories. In light of the social and political times in which we live, with exceptional skill in Womanist Midrash Wil Gafney makes certain that women’s voices in Hebrew Scripture are not erased, are heard, and are reckoned with in fact and that the lived experiences of black women (and other marginalized communities) get equal time around the hermeneutical table.

—Dr. Renita J. Weems, author of Just a Sister Away: A Womanist Vision of Women’s Relationships in the Bible

Womanist Midrash is a masterful tapestry of many threads, at once three dimensional in scope, fastidious in attention to translation and hermeneutics, and dedicated to stimulating our curiosity regarding named and unnamed women of the Torah and throne. The volume incarnates Professor Wil Gafney’s rich, complex journey to create a rabbinic pedagogy and vision that responds to contemporary problems, constructs new stories, and makes connections between new life realities and unchanging biblical texts. Gafney provides historical and traditional interpretations from a womanist perspective, mindful of oppression arising from gender, class, and, where appropriate, ethnicity. Womanist Midrash is a must-read for academician and believer alike who dare to take these texts seriously, particularly if one is willing to see and listen, with their own ‘sanctified imagination,’ as they study the instruction, revelation, and sometimes law of Torah.

—Dr. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Professor of Religion, Shaw University Divinity School

Gafney’s groundbreaking work, Womanist Midrash, weaves together womanist biblical hermeneutics and Jewish midrashic interpretive strategies to offer stunning new perspectives on biblical narratives about women in the Hebrew Bible. Gafney grounds her ‘sacred imagination’ in classical biblical scholarship while designating the articulations of black women’s experiences as authoritative and central. She draws inspiration from midrash, which fills in the untold stories behind the stories. On almost every page of this book, Gafney offers fresh, womanish, and proudly audacious interpretations and questions. This is one of those rare commentaries that speaks to Jewish and Christian readers alike. Womanist Midrash will be required reading for my rabbinical students alongside the classic male-stream Bible commentaries.”

—Dr. S. Tamar Kamionkowski, Professor of Bible, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Product Details

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Wilda C. 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.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $27.99
    Save $6.00 (21%)