Yesterday The day before yesterday (this will post at 12:16 a.m. argggg) I posted the first five books in my 10 favorite books that empowered me to be the woman Godde created me to be, and that I think will help other women become all Godde has called them to be. Here are the final five books.
The books in this list are scholarly and use a lot theological jargon, but I think they are worth the time it takes to read.
She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth Johnson
This is the book that showed me I could explore the Divine Feminine and remain a Christian and true to my biblical roots. Johnson is the one who introduced Sophia into my religious life: Spirit-Sophia, Jesus-Sophia, and Mother-Sophia. This book showed me that women’s experience of the divine was just as valid as men’s (i. e. normative) experience. After reading this book I started seeing how women’s experience of Godde was marginalized and neglected.
In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
For me Schüssler Fiorenza picked up where Johnson left off. Schüssler Fiorenza dives into how women’s roles and experiences were marginalized, suppressed, and lost to history. Her reconstruction of early Christianity focusing on female disciples and apostles, and the roles that the Bible and sacred history hint at, flesh out a “theological reconstruction of Christian origins.” This book continued to show me how much of Christian history is that: his. It made me realize how desperately we need to balance out our religious experiences, traditions, worship, and Godde-talk with women’s words, women’s experience, and re-discovering the Divine Feminine.
Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories by Tikva Frymer-Kensky
If you only have one scholarly, wordy book about the women of the Bible on your shelves, this is the one. Technically the Bible we’re talking about here is the Hebrew Scriptures. Frymer-Kensky was a Jewish scholar and Middle East Historian par excellence. As far as I’m concerned no one could pick apart of piece of Scripture in the Hebrew, put it back into English, then add the historical, sociological and cultural background and make me wonder what I can learn from this woman and how can I apply this to my life. In fact, the last chapter is “Mirror and Voices: Reading These Stories Today” helps us start thinking about how these women’s stories can possibly change our own lives and culture.
Unfortunately Dr. Frymer-Kensky passed away in 2006 after a four year battle with breast cancer. Her first book In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth would be #11 on this list. After reading her two books, I was devastated to find out that would be all I would read. I would love for her passion for Scripture, helping us see the hard truths we don’t want to acknowledge, and the hope of change her work still gives people to live on in a few more books. If you light candles to honor those who have passed on, please light a candle for Tikva.
Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context by Carol Meyers
As In Memory of Her reconstructed early Christian origins, Meyers book seeks to reconstruct the ancient Israelite culture the creation stories in Genesis spring from. Discovering Eve, published in 1998 seeks to show what women’s lives in ancient Israel were like as a result of recent archeological finds at the time. Rural villages had been unearthed, and with them, glimpses of women’s lives. Meyers sees Eve as an archetype: Everywoman in the Bible. She shows us what the typical woman’s life would have been like when the Genesis creation stories were being told orally from one family to the next, one tribe to the next. Starting with the typical life and working backwards to show how Adam and Eve as the ideal Everyman and Everywoman came to be and why the Israelites were living in a dry, arid land where eeking out enough crops to live on was so hard instead of living in the water rich Eden.
Meyers also gives an incredible translation of Genesis 3:16 that would revolutionize how we think about women and their roles in the home and society if anyone was interested in an accurate translation of the verse:
I will greatly increase your toil [work/labor] and your pregnancies;
(Along) with travail [physical work] shall you beget children
For to your man is your desire,
And he shall predominate over you.
Meyer’s theory is that not only will the women’s pregnancies increase, but the physical work she does will also increase. Meyers also makes the observation, that in context, the husband only predominates over the women, so that she will have children. Large families were needed to farm the dry, arid land, but with the large infant mortality rate (half of all children born did not live to their second birthday), and mother mortality, the woman would be hesitant to have sex. The husband could rule over her in this for the work that needed to be done to survive. Meyers points out that we no longer need large families to survive, and with modern birth control, the husband predominating over the woman is now a moot point. I think it’s a moot point since Jesus: Jesus came to reverse the curse, including this one. But Meyer’s additional reading of this verse, strictly in the verse’s context is absolutely brilliant.
I will always be grateful to the Episcopalian nuns in the Order of St. Helena for this gender inclusive prayer book. The nuns chant the Daily Office: four services of prayer through the day that include Psalms, readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, and prayers. The nuns grew tired of the masculine-only language for Godde. Over a number of years they wrote liturgy and chanted; this breviary is the result. It’s imaginative language and poetic meter help me to see Godde in new ways.
Hopefully in the future there will be more resources for fairly orthodox Christian women using Divine Feminine language for Godde. A good friend of mine is creating a Sophia Daily Office (which I hope a publisher will have the guts to pick up), and I am working on The Christian Godde Project. We are translating the New Testament using Diving Feminine names and pronouns for Godde to begin to balance out the male language only versions (Heaven help us).
If you know of prayer, worship resources, or liturgies using Divine Feminine language, please leave them in the comments.
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