The Good Book

New ‘Women’s Bible’ replaces ‘patriarchal’ Biblical translations with feminist interpretations

A group of feminist Christian theologians has released a new edition of the Bible — dubbed ‘A Women’s Bible’ — that reinterprets what the authors characterized as paternalistic and biased translations of the nearly 2,000-year-old religious text. The lead authors of the new work, professors Lauriane Savoy and Elisabeth Parmentier of the Theology Faculty in Geneva, told France 24 that they were sick of their religion being used to justify misogyny and subjugation of women, and so decided to embark on a work to reinterpret passages that have traditionally been used to justify treating women as inferior to men.

“Feminist values and reading the Bible are not incompatible,” said Savoy, 33. “A lot of people thought [the Bible was] completely outdated with no relevance to today’s values of equality.”

According to the authors, “lingering patriarchal readings” can paint women such as Mary Magdalene, the principal female figure in the Gospels, as a prostitute — a translation that they contend is very much open to interpretation.

“She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection,” Savoy noted. “This is a fundamental character, but she is described as a prostitute … and even as Jesus’ lover in recent fiction.”

The authors also emphasize that certain aspects of the Bible — such as letters from Saint Paul that feature some particularly misogynistic language and characterizations of women — shouldn’t be taken as the literal word of God.

“It’s like taking a letter someone sends to give advice as being valid for all eternity,” observed Parmentier.

In the end, the authors said they were hopeful that the Bible could be used as a tool for the empowerment of women, rather than as the opposite.

“Some say that you have to throw out the Bible to be a feminist,” Parmentier said. “We believe the opposite.”

Read the full story at France 24.

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