What does the Bible say about women?

Cindy Dawson, an instructor and PhD student in Religion with an emphasis in Judaism and a certification in the studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University, talks about how it is important to acknowledge the difference between one’s interpretation of the Bible, and the Bible itself.

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We learn from Cindy about hermeneutics, which is the interpretive lens with which we read a text.  We talk about how every person has a different lens depending on many different factors that influence where they are as a person.  We learn that step one in interpreting scripture is to know where we are, because that is going to inform our interpretive lens.  

Cindy teaches us that the Bible is not a free-for-all, but that we need to take into account different interpretive lenses before determining what is right and what is wrong.  Rather than beginning our conversations by stating what is right and what is wrong, we ought to be ending our conversations that way after a thorough investigation through different lenses of interpretation.  We need each other, in community, for our different interpretive lenses.  

We discuss how the idea that a text can only mean one thing is a very dangerous idea.  The way we interpret texts has consequences, and when we don’t take into account different interpretive lenses, we can end up with an interpretation that is problematic.

Next we explore how hermeneutics influence how we interpret what the Bible says about women.  We discuss how God created women as equal image bearers.  The image of God is equally in men and women. That is what makes us human.  

We learn the meaning of the word “helper,” translated from the Hebrew word “Ezer.”  The word Ezer is used to describe God as our helper in a fierce, rescuing sense.  “Ezer Kenegdo,” the words used to describe woman, means “one corresponding to.” We hear that there is equality embedded in the Hebrew that describes the relationship between man and woman. 

We talk about some largely overlooked women in the Bible, including Deborah the Judge, Junia, who was prominent among the apostles, Phoebe the deacon, and Mary Magdalene, who became a missionary.

Cindy unpacks for us one of the most widely used “clobber texts” used to silence women in Christian culture, 1 Timothy 2.  We discuss how the only part of the passage that many people insist on interpreting literally today is the part about keeping women silent, while the rest is easily dismissed as situational.  We talk about the many Biblical contradictions in making this a universal mandate.

We talk about the implications of holding so tightly to a view that disempowers half of the population.  We also touch on the problem of saying that the primary role of a woman is childbearing, and how much pain that causes.

Join us for the continuation of this conversation in episode 5.

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Music: “A New Day” by Michelle Raybourn

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