The voices of biblical woman are mostly muted, filtered through the voices of the male writers of the text. Even so, women of Scripture speak with their own power, albeit from the edges and the underside of power and privilege. The women of the Bible do not necessarily show us how women ought to behave; rather they tell us something about how women throughout history have acted within their time and place, from within their own particular circumstances.
These women are not to be used as simplistic templates shaped by our own modern Western standards of acceptable or unacceptable behavior, because, for the most part, the stories of Scripture reflect the patriarchal mores of the ancient Middle East and the Roman Empire. But also, of course, woven throughout these secular influences are the religious convictions of the people of Israel. The Israelites and the church did not (and do not) exist in a vacuum. Expectations and pressures from the surrounding culture are as powerful today as they were then, and too many of us stay unaware of the many ways our culture can influence our religious understandings and practice.
Feminist scholarship critiques and questions Scripture’s patriarchal bias from a female perspective in light of the cultural realities of the time as well as the eternal ideals of justice and equity. These noble ideals have not yet fully come into being in our own human reality, and they certainly do not exist in most of Scripture. They are only hinted at, only dreamed about in the stories of the women preserved for us in our Bible.
I love these stories of faithful women woven in and through the stories of power and patriarchy. Again and again, The Story introduces us to women who were dismissed or dishonored by their society and then experienced startling reversals of amazing grace . . .
The book of Ruth is eighty-five verses long, but the words “redeem” and/or “redemption” are used some twenty-three times. God’s way of doing business is to redeem every situation, every person, every community of people and to bring all things into the fullness and shalom of God’s ultimate purposes for creation . . .
Coyle, Charlotte Vaughan. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (pp. 293-304). Resource Publications. Kindle Edition.