The Women’s Bible Commentary has continued to provide a unique opportunity for students of the Bible to observe the hermeneutical outcome of feminist scholarship for over two decades. It has brought together some the best feminist scholars in the field, which has resulted in a timely and lasting volume that has demonstrated itself as beneficial for a many. The present twentieth anniversary edition features a number of brand new or thoroughly revised essays that reflect newer thinking in feminist interpretation and hermeneutics. The scope of this volume is comprehensive and its significance is evident, regardless of an individual’s gender or theological persuasion. It covers every book of the Old Testament and the New, as well as the Old Testament Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books.
The book opens with two important essays to position the reader with the understanding needed to discover value in the volume. The reader will find Carol A Newson’s essay on women as biblical interpreters prior to the twentieth century well-written and intriguing given the task of the present volume. As the reader enters into the commentary proper, he or she will find traditional introductory material for each book, comments on various passages in each book, and a number of brief excursuses on female figures (such as Eve, Ruth, Rahab, etc.) and their interpreters. Each chapter helpfully concludes with a bibliography to orient the reader properly for further study.
The commentary and treatment of the text therein was met with a variegated presentation of its usefulness. Some of the books are handled more judiciously than others, and some of the essays are certainly more useful than others. Moreover, there was little consistency throughout by way of interaction with opposing positions. Not that this negates the value of the resource, but I find interaction more helpful than blanket assertions, and I assume other readers do as well. Also, given the nature and focus of the volume itself, the conservative evangelical reader should anticipate disagreement. But, again, this should not negate the value of the resource. In fact, if anything, it should ultimately encourage the value of the resource as the reader should seek to interact with and dialog alongside the material and arguments that it seeks to present.
The Women’s Bible Commentary is a unique resource. It provides readers of all theological persuasion and backgrounds an opportunity to interact with and observe the best that the feminist movement has to offer by way of biblical scholarship. The volume itself is helpful in many respects, but it will also provide serious concern for some readers. Regardless, it provides a hermeneutical perspective unavailable in other resources on the market, and I am more than happy to have it on my bookshelf and look forward to consulting it often. It brings much to the table for discussion and comes highly recommended for any serious student of the Bible seeking to engage the world around them.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.