The history of female interpreters of the Bible is a neglected area of study. Marion Taylor presents a one-volume reference tool that introduces readers to a wide array of female Bible interpreters from the entire history of Christianity, from the early church to the twenty-first century. Her research has implications for understanding biblical interpretation—especially the history of interpretation—and the contemporary study of women and the Bible.
Contributions by over 125 top scholars introduce foremothers of the faith who address interpretive issues continuing relevance in faith communities today, such as women’s roles in the church and synagogue and the idea of religious feminism. Women’s interpretations also raise awareness about differences in the ways women and men may read the Scriptures in light of their differing life experiences. This text will prove useful to students, scholars, and pastors, who will be inspired, provoked, and challenged by the women introduced in the handbook. It provides a foundation for further detailed research and analysis.
This handbook is a gold mine, a must for all who care about women and religion or the history of the reception of the biblical texts. Page after page, article after article, I found myself riveted by what I was learning.
—Dale C. Allison Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
For over 1,600 years now, women have been carefully studying the Bible. Strangely, scholars have not seemed to wonder what they having been thinking about it all this time. Through pioneering and painstaking research, the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters brilliantly puts on display the insights and reflections of half the population on the most important book in the history of the world. I have been waiting eagerly for this handbook, and I will henceforth consult it frequently and with delight. All serious students of the Bible need to add it to their collection—especially those who don’t think they need it.
—Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought, Wheaton College
This exhilarating volume can justly be described as one of the finest fruits yet to be harvested from the past half century of work on women’s history and women’s relationships to the interpretation of the Bible from the early church to the present. Marion Ann Taylor has included a judicious but generous selection of women biblical interpreters, individual contributors rank among the world’s experts, and the articles themselves frequently treat readers to excerpts from these women’s original writings. Those who go in search of particular entries will find themselves drawn to read more than what they went looking for because the stories encapsulated here are by turns surprising, fascinating, wry, poignant, and heartening.
—John L. Thompson, professor of historical theology, Fuller Theological Seminary
This deeply researched and beautifully organized volume fills a huge gap; one which most biblical scholars and church historians never noticed was there. It yields insight into how richly and variously the Bible functioned in diverse communities, from late antiquity to modern times, as reflected in the lives and writings of remarkable women. The history of biblical interpretation will never look the same again.
—Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
What an extraordinary, fascinating, enthralling, moving, and mind-expanding volume! This guide has achieved a vital recovery of interpretive sources and makes it clear that these interpreters must be explored and seriously considered not only by those thirsting to find women’s voices but also by anyone who desires to be comprehensively informed about the true scope and history of biblical interpretation.
—John Goldingay, David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
This most welcome handbook provides a wealth of information about an overlooked dimension of the history of biblical interpretation, the contribution of women interpreters. A fine collection of contributors focus on a wide variety of women interpreters through all periods of history. The array of interpreters covered here is breathtaking when one reads the biographies of those who, against deep odds and through major difficulties, provided biblical understandings that resonate today in many places. Marion Ann Taylor has made a real contribution in a number of ways with this expertly edited volume which recovers and analyzes women’s voices. This splendid work deserves a primary place among biblical interpretation resources and much praise for its extensive and exciting discoveries.
—Donald K. McKim, editor, Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters
This handbook is as important as it is fascinating—important for its unparalleled ability to give ear to voices long forgotten, often silenced, and fascinating for the way it turns the spotlight on the difficult but spectacular story of how women have engaged the Scriptures as they worked to take their rightful places in pulpits, at lecterns, and around the tables of biblical interpretation. Turning page after page, I found myself sometimes amazed, sometimes humbled, and often inspired by the courage and wisdom of the biblical interpreters whose lives and contributions are here gathered.
—Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary
What a gift and an invitation this book is! For too long I have been frustrated at my own lack of knowledge about the history of reception of the Bible , in particular, the history of women’s interpretive engagement with the Bible. With neither the knowledge of where to begin or even a sense of what I was looking for, I was helpless. Marion Taylor’s astonishing book changes everything. The judicious choice of women interpreters from antiquity to the twentieth century, the succinct but informative articles, and the immensely valuable bibliographies suddenly make it possible to teach and to write about women’s interpretation of the Bible throughout history. I can’t wait to get started.
—Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Emory University
The Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters is an elegantly written collection of entries examining women’s influential reflections on Scripture and their own female identity. Each entry provides an enticing glimpse of a woman’s engagement with the biblical text and frames her contribution in its historical setting. These readings of Scripture speak afresh into our own time, enriching and invigorating our understanding of the Bible.
—Lynn H. Cohick, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College
Taylor and Choi provide a fascinating glimpse into the stories and writings of women across two thousand years of history. We are introduced to such diverse biblical interpreters as Elizabeth Achtemeier, Marie Guyart, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Dorothy Sayers, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Bringing together 180 female interpreters into a single volume provides a rare gift, since women’s voices have often been neglected in the history of interpretation. This handbook is a unique and valuable resource for any seeking to understand Scripture by listening to the historical community of faith.
—Jeannine Brown, professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary
The strength of this volume arises from the range of interpreters of the Bible, the theological spectrum they represent, and the new doors that they open on history. To cover so many women, many of whom were silenced or forgotten, and to do so with evenness and compression is a remarkable achievement. Anyone interested in the history of biblical interpretation, preaching, and Bible teaching will find essential, captivating reading in these pages.
—Paul Scott Wilson, professor of homiletics, Emmanuel College, University of Toronto
Marion Ann Taylor is a professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, where she has taught for more than 25 years. She has devoted her scholarly research to the history of the interpretation of the Bible and has recently focused on women interpreters of the Bible in the nineteenth century. She is coeditor of Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible.