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Children of the Bible
A Bibliography to Accompany the Spiritual Growth Study for 2004

Compiled by Ernest Rubinstein, librarian of the Ecumenical Library of the Interchurch Center. Thanks are due the librarians of Union Theological Seminary for granting access to the stacks of Burke Library.

Discussions of children in the Bible are often embedded within broader reflections on women and family. Accordingly, one section of this bibliography is devoted to family in the Bible. The section on feminist interpretation of the Bible, touches the children of our study through many of their mothers. The method of story telling modeled in the work of Linda Hollies, recurs as a theme among women scholars who note the overlap between culture, gender and the biblical narrative. Maggie Biggs-Scribner's youthful voice provides an opportunity to reflect on how children read the Bible. Linda Hollies creative expansions of the stories also inspires a section devoted to narrative technique in the Bible, and to methods and examples of retelling Bible stories.

Many of the books listed here were individually consulted and annotated. Others receive descriptions based on reviews of them in scholarly journals; still others are annotated with quotations from publisher catalogs, or from Books in Print online, which includes among its listings quotations from publishers' literature promoting their books. These derived annotations are always clearly noted as such. The bibliography quotes prices for in-print books. Out of print books are often easily purchased through online used-book search engines, such as http://www.bookfinder.com, http://www.alibris.com, http://www.addall.com. In addition, most of the books listed here should be available through interlibrary loan procedures, available at most local public libraries.

I. Children of the Bible
II. Family in the Bible
III. Teaching Children the Bible
IV. Biblical Storytelling
A. Storytelling in the Bible
B. Retelling Bible stories
V. Feminist Interpretation of the Bible

I Children in the Bible

Aron, Robert. A Boy Named Jesus: How the Early Years Shaped His Life. Introduction by John Shelby Spong. Berkeley, Calif.: Ulysses Press, 1997. 280 p. Out of print.

This publisher specializes in spirituality and health literature. From the catalog: "The childhood and adolescence of Jesus have always been shrouded in mystery. In A Boy Names Jesus, a distinguished historian ignores the wild theories about these 'lost years' and explores the real influences that shaped Jesus' early life." Robert Aron (1898-1975) was a widely published French intellectual and historian. Though best-known for books on the history of France, he also wrote religious works, of which this is the most popular.

Balla, Peter. The Parent-Child Relationship in the New Testament and its Environment. Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003. 279 p. $115.00

This is a scholarly work, submitted for the advanced degree of Habilitation at Evangelical Lutheran Theological University in Budapest. But its topic is deeply human and personal: the honor that children paid their parents in ancient cultures. The author aims to recreate the sensibility of children in Jewish, pagan, and Christian antiquity. The culminating chapters, on the New Testament, offer a thorough study of what we can learn of children's behavior towards parents from the gospels and Pauline literature.

Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Bantam, 1999. 752 p. $27.50

This classic text, first published in 1977, remains the single best authoritative study of the infancy narratives of Christ. Rev. Brown (1928-1998), who taught New Testament for many years at Union Theological Seminary in New York, brings the sanctioned historical-critical methods of Bible study to illuminate the nativity stories of Matthew and Luke (up through Jesus' adolescence in Lk 2:41-52). In the tradition of the Anchor Bible studies, this book offers detailed linguistic analysis and contextual commentary.

Bunge, Marcia, ed. The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. 527 p. $29.00

From the publisher's catalog: "This volume offers the first major survey of the history of Christian thought on children. Each chapter, written by an expert in the field, discusses the particular perspectives on children held by influential theologians and Christian movements throughout church history, asking what resources they can contribute to a sound contemporary view of childhood and child-rearing." The most relevant chapter is the first, on children in the New Testament, but additional chapters of interest focus on perspectives from John Wesley and from modern feminist theologians.

Deiss, Lucien. Joseph, Mary, Jesus. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1996. 168 p. $14.95. [originally in French]

From the publisher's catalog: "[This book] focuses on Jesus' childhood years, highlights his humanity, and presents him to us 'familiarly' as a child. It concentrates on the 'sources' of Jesus' formation, the rich tradition of the people of Israel, the family practices of Joseph and Mary, and finally on what Jesus discovered on his own in his relation with God." The author taught Bible at the Grand Scholasticat de Chevilly-Larue.

Drewermann, Eugen. Discovering the God Child Within: A Spiritual Psychology of the Infancy of Jesus. New York: Crossroad, 1994. 202 p. Out of print.

This book is a sustained interpretation of Jesus's birth and childhood as presented in the gospel of Luke (up through Lk 2:41-52, where a 12-year old Jesus teaches in the Temple). The author brings to bear parallel stories of divine children from Egyptian and Greek mythology. His thesis is that the intended effect of these stories is to restore to adult listeners an intuitive openness they once had as children to divine presence.

Freed, Edwin D. Stories of Jesus' Birth: A Critical Introduction. St. Louis: Chalice Pr, 2001. 183 p. $19.99.

The author, who is emeritus professor at Gettysburg College, acknowledges Raymond Brown (see above) as the master analyst of the Christmas stories, but offers this work as a more accessible introduction. He carefully compares the accounts of Jesus' birth and childhood in Matthew and Luke, the role of genealogy in each, and the place of women in the genealogies. He also compares the birth stories of Jesus and John the Baptist.

Grassi, Joseph. Children's Liberation: A Biblical Perspective. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1991. 128 p. Out of Print

After an overview of stories about children in the Old Testament, the author devotes one chapter each to the four gospels and the roles children play in them. The author suggests that the New Testament stories about children channel longings for political and spiritual freedom in the early church. The nativity stories of Jesus receive special attention, as does the symbolism of discipleship that children in the New Testament carry. An epilogue explores the role of children as teachers of adults. At the time of writing, the author taught religious studies at Santa Clara University.

Hendrickx, Herman. The Third Gospel for the Third World: Preface and Infancy Narrative (Luke 1:1-2:52). Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1996. 288 p. $19.95

A graduate of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and long-time teacher in East Asian contexts, the author brings to his interpretation of Luke particular awareness of Third World issues. He incorporates sociological, cultural, and feminist interpretive methods, while aiming to uncover the pastoral implications of the Gospel for Third World readers. This volume is the first in his multi-volume commentary of Luke.

Levenson, Jon. The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. 257 p. $19.00

This book is inspired by the author's perception that, though the Bible prohibited actual child sacrifice, it remained throughout intrigued by the ideals of self-denial that motivated renunciation of the first-born and first-fruits. He examines those ideals as they manifest in the stories of Abel, Jacob, Isaac, and Joseph, all of whom suffer threats to their lives, and links this tradition from Hebrew scripture to the story of Jesus. Prof. Levenson, who teaches at the University of Chicago, is one of the most acute scholars of Jewish thought and literature writing today.


Lockyer, Herbert. All the Children of the Bible. Zondervan, 1970. 287 p. Out of Print

This unique book attempts encyclopedic coverage of everything the Bible has to say about children, and about childhood as both life-stage and metaphor. A topical arrangement of themes (e.g., "The Folly of Favoritism") is complemented by a long chapter on all the children who receive significant mention in scripture, including Isaac and Ishmael, Moses, Jephthah's daughter, Jesus, and the Canaanite woman's daughter (Matt 15:21-28), among many others. The author was a lecturer affiliated with the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Marcus, David. Jephthah and His Vow. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech Pr, 1986. 77 p. Out of print.

This scholarly study (cited in this year's spiritual growth study) has one chief aim: to explore the fate of Jephthah's daughter. The author notes that, while the majority tradition within biblical interpretation teaches that Jephthah's daughter was literally sacrificed, a minority tradition holds that the "sacrifice" was consecration to God, meaning ongoing life as a celibate. Through careful analysis of ambiguities in the biblical Hebrew, the author concludes that "the fate of Jephthah's daughter cannot be determined with any finality."

McKenna, Megan. Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected Stories from the Bible. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 1998. 225 p. $15.00

The title of this book comes from Matt. 14:21, part of the story of the loaves and fishes, the last story in this year's spiritual growth study. The number of women and children fed is not included in the total count, but that the Bible pauses to mention that omission at all is McKenna's stimulus to plumb the story more deeply. Other stories analyzed for allusions to childhood and children include those about the infant Moses, Sarah and Hagar, the Canannite woman (Matt 15:21-28), and Jesus's youth-all of which are addressed in the spiritual growth study. The author, who holds a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union, is a popular retreat-leader.

Patte, Daniel, ed. Kingdom and Children: Aphorism, Chreia, Structure. (Semeia, 29). Chico, Calif: Scholars Press, 1983. 130 p. Out of print.

This academic study comprises three articles by New Testament scholars Daniel Patte, V. K. Robbins, and John Dominic Crossan on the relation of Jesus to children: his blessing of children and his use of childhood as a metaphor in relation to the kingdom of God. The essays were presented as part of the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1982 in New York.


Perry, Paul. Jesus in Egypt: Discovering the Secrets of Christ's Childhood Years. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003. 288 p. $24.95

A popular nonfiction writer with a penchant for the paranormal, Perry offers here a lively travelogue of a journey he made to Egypt. He traced the putative steps of Jesus there, as recounted in the apocryphal supplements to the New Testament. By his reliance on those sources, he indirectly testifies to how little is really known of Jesus' childhood (despite the misleading book title). But the book is instructive for the local Egyptian lore on Jesus it relates along the way, and stimulates reflection on Jesus' youth.

Water, Mark. What the Bible has to Say about Children. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 96 p. $8.00

This book is part of a series that, according to the publisher, "takes the word of God and offers contemporary comment." From the publisher's catalog: "Children and their relationships with their parents and families are often treated obliquely in the Bible. But the wisdom is there if you look for it, from Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac … to the comparisons (particularly in the Psalms) between the innocence of the human soul and the innocence of a child. This book offers strong interpretations of all these passages, whether talking about children in the literal sense or using them as a metaphor."

Zuck, Roy. Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1996. 280 p. $25.00

From Books in Print: "The author covers all the children in the Bible, intensively studying the biblical text as well as incorporating insights from the best history works on childhood and child-rearing in ancient times. The author's sensitivity to the cultural and sociological factors impinging on families in biblical times is everywhere apparent…. Everything the Bible says about children applies to contemporary childhood, according to the author. He finds biblical examples and implications for children's physical, emotional, social, and spiritual development. The principles that can be garnered from this incisive work will help educators and parents in the teaching and training of children today."

II. Family in the Bible

Bristow, John T. What the Bible Really Says about Love, Marriage, and the Family. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 1994. 152 p. $12.99

Chalice Press is the publishing ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). From the publisher's catalog: "The author of What Paul Really Said About Women takes a hard look at marriage, divorce, sexuality, & the role of women in the Bible."

Cassiday-Shaw, Aimee. Family Abuse in the Bible: the Scriptural Perspective. New York: Haworth Press, 2002. 144 p. $19.95

The author, who is founder of Family Abuse Ministries, boldly confronts the reality of abuse within Christian households. Written from an evangelical perspective, the book mines the Bible for passages relevant to issues of family abuse. Two chapters focus specifically on children within families, regarded first from the parent's vantage point, and then the child's. Though the stories of Isaac and Ishmael are not discussed, this book may stimulate reflection on some of the issues raised in this year's spiritual growth study.

Cohen, Norman. Self, Struggle and Change: Family Conflicts in Genesis and their Healing Insights for Our Lives. Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights, 1995. 209 p. $16.95

Rabbi Cohen, who teaches at Hebrew Union College in New York City, draws on rabbinical literature, and on his own personal experience, to illuminate the significance for today of the many family conflicts that enliven the Genesis stories. Children appear most often in this book in sibling pairs (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael, Ephraim and Menasseh) that pose particular challenges to parents. Rabbi Cohen suggests that the family problematic of the Genesis stories is designed to serve less as a model to imitate than as a stimulant to self-knowledge.

Collins, John J., et al, eds. Families in Ancient Israel. Louisville, Ky: Westminster, 1997. 272 p. $20.00

Based on a review in CrossCurrents magazine, by David Blumenthal: This scholarly study draws from archaeology and the biblical record to reconstruct family life in ancient Israel from the Iron Age to the 1st century CE. The five essays in sequence, by John Collins, Carol Meyers, Joseph Blenkinsop, and Leo Perdue, suggest that intensifications of patriarchy over time paralleled the evolution of the ancient Israelite state. Children figure as both family members and as metaphors for the whole of the people Israel.

Deen, Edith. Family Living in the Bible. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. 274 p. Out of print.

Deen, who is best known for her book, All the Women of the Bible, here assembles a treasure-trove of Bible verses on family, and comments briefly on each. Topically arranged, the sections most relevant are on "Children in the Home," "Problems between Parents and Children," and "Discipline in the Home." Specific childhoods discussed include those of Ishmael and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Jephthah's daughter. Though the tone of the book is dated and largely uncritical, the material presented provides seeds for reflection.

Felder, Cain Hope. Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class and Family. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1989. 233 p. $19.00

This far-ranging look at the implications of Bible stories and teachings for African Americans today includes a chapter on the family. Both Old and New Testament models of family life are critically examined, with special attention to issues of patriarchy, blood kinship, and parent-child relationships. Biblical patterns are sifted for what can be helpfully applied to family life today.

Greven, Philip J. Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse. New York: Knopf, 1992. 284 p. $19.00

The author, who at the time of writing taught at Rutgers University, identifies as an adult raised by Methodist parents who practiced physical punishment as a means of discipline. The book includes stories of physical punishment, analysis of biblical justifications for it, and discussion of consequences in later life, such as predisposition to anger, depression, and paranoia. Even such social phenomena as apocalypticism can be interpreted, according to the author, in terms of punishment-needs held over from abused childhoods.

Jacobs-Malina, Diane. Beyond Patriarchy: The Images of Family in Jesus. New York: Paulist Press, 1993. 208 p. $13.95

Annotation based on a review by T. R. Hobbs published in Biblical Theology Bulletin: The author discerns a dichotomy in the ancient world between the public realm of men and the domestic realm of women. While Greco-Roman culture favored the public over the private, Jesus can be seen as identifying with the domestic and private roles of wives and mothers. The final chapter analyzes the role of children in Jesus' re-evaluation of family life, with special reference to Matt 18:3 ("Unless you become like children…")

Moxnes, Halvor, ed. Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor. Routledge, 1997. 267 p. $27.95

The editor of this collection of scholarly essays, who teaches New Testament at the University of Oslo, notes that ancient languages had no word for our modern idea of family, but employed instead such concepts as kinship, household, and marriage. The essays explore the relationship between the social reality of family life for early Christians, and the metaphor of family as an ideal for church community. Several essays address the tension between the Roman emphasis, in both social life and metaphor, on father-son relationships, and contrasting ideals of egalitarianism within the early church.

Newman, Jay. Biblical Religion and Family Values: A Problem in Philosophy of Culture. London: Prager, 2001. 342 p. $99.95.

This scholarly study, motivated by unclarity in popular culture over "family values" and the presumed biblical support for them, examines what we can learn from Old Testament narrative, law, and prophecy, and from New Testament story and teaching, about family life in biblical times, and, ideally, today. By subjecting biblical views on family to challenge from alternative philosophical and anthropological perspectives, the author draws attention to a fundamental "strangeness" (for us) in them. His hope is to position us to have informed opinions on ways biblical views influence contemporary values.

Osiek, Carolyn and David Blach. Families in the New Testament World: Households and House Churches. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1997. 329 p. $25.00

Two New Testament scholars explore issues of gender, marriage, education, and home life within the Greco-Roman context of the early Christian communities. Though "Paul seldom alludes to children" (p. 156), the authors uncover what the New Testament, supplemented by archeological finds, can teach about the children of the early Christians. The most relevant chapter, on education, presents the views on child-rearing of such early Christian fathers as Clement of Rome, and Clement of Alexandria.

Rosenblatt, Naomi H. and Joshua Horwitz. Wrestling with Angels: What the First Families of Genesis Teach us about Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality, and Personal Relationships. New York: Delacorte Pr, 1995. 388 p. $13.95

The authors, both of whom are Jewish, bring insights from psychotherapy to the Genesis stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs. Noting the teaching function of psychological pain, they suggest that the Bible can serve as much to challenge, as to support, the cultural expectations of today's world. Naomi Rosenblatt is a therapist and Bible-study leader, and Joshua Horwitz is one of her students.

Sheek, C. William. The Word on Families. Nashville: Abingdon, 1985. 156 p. Out of print

Structured around the hypothetical narrative of an impending divorce, this book explores the stress points on family life as parents move through various stages of rearing children (child-bearing, school age, adolescence, "launching,"). The Bible provides context for the advice given at each stage. At the time of writing, the author was executive director of the National Academy for Families.

Steinberg, Naomi. Kinship and Marriage in Genesis: A Household Economics Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1993. 162 p. Out of print.

Prof. Steinberg, who at the time of writing was Associate Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University, in Chicago, employs methods from social anthropology and literary criticism to analyze issues of inheritance, lineage, and marriage in the book of Genesis. Children figure centrally in biblical lines of descent, which are complicated by the mixed practices of monogamy and polygamy. The book is structured around the biblical accounts of descent through Sarah and Hagar; Rebecca; and Rachel and Leah.


Steinmetz, Devora. From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continuity in Genesis. Louisville, Ky: Westminster, 1991. 214 p. $24.95.

It is perhaps not accidental that most of the stories of troubled families in this year's spiritual growth study come from the book of Genesis. As Devora Steinmetz notes, family members in those stories typically remain in tense relations together, or else part from each other, posing dangers to the continuity of the family line. The author's thesis is that kinship symbolizes an ideal of cultural continuity for a people (the early Israelites) whose ongoing existence was under continuous threat. Freudian analysis enriches this study by a scholar who formerly taught at Jewish Theological Seminary.


III. Teaching Children the Bible

Bottigheimer, Ruth B. The Bible for Children: From the Age of Guttenberg to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. 338 p. $50.00

This beautifully produced book is a scholarly study of printed children's Bibles, many of them now rare. The author's central thesis is that, while presenting themselves as faithful, child-oriented renditions of biblical stories and teachings, these Bibles reflect, in both their text and illustration, the distinctive social mores of their time and place. Two chapters especially relevant to this year's spiritual growth study address the character of God, as portrayed in the Bibles, and parent-child relationships.

Coles, Robert. The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. 358 p. $14.00

Noted child psychiatrist, Robert Coles, reflects on religious dimensions to the conversations he has had over the years with children. Though it is mostly children's own religious thought and experience that are featured here, the Bible surfaces as an influence in, for example, how children understand the face and voice of God. A closing chapter presents children as pilgrims on a spiritual way that includes us all.

Cully, Iris V. The Bible in Christian Education. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995. 144 p. $11.25 [An earlier version was published by Westminster Press in 1962]

This book is written with an awareness that all members of the church, whether clergy, professional educators, or lay adults, have potential impact on children's religious learning. Though the author has learners of every age in mind, the two central chapters focus on children and adolescents. Informed by such theorists of child development as Jean Piaget and Robert Coles, Prof. Cully considers how children of different ages respond to the Bible. Prof. Cully was Professor of Religious Education at Lexington Theological Seminary at the time of writing.

Davidson, Robert. The Bible in Religious Education. Edinburgh, Scotland: Handsel Pr, 1979. 64 p. Out of print.

These highly readable essays, first presented as lectures at the St. Andrews Conference on Religious Education, in July 1977, address a range of questions on teaching the Bible to children: how do we cross the cultural gap separating today's children from Bible times?; to what extent should children be encouraged to read the Bible as literature (rather than as religious canon)?; is the Bible itself or the child's own life the appropriate starting point for connecting the two? The answers may be less important than the perennial issues raised.

Fairly, John L. and Arleene Gilmer Farily. Using the Bible to Answer Questions Children Ask. Richmond, Va.: John Knox Pr, 1958. 99 p. Out of print

This book is structured around thirteen questions that children 8-years old and under are likely to bring to the Bible. The questions, which include queries about God, prayer, suffering, evil, and death, are examined from four vantage points: the reasons that children ask them, the concepts that lie behind them, the Bible's answers to them, and adult interpretations of the biblical answers suitable for children. John Fairly was editor in chief of publications for the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.; Arlene Fairly was a kindergarten teacher.

Fewell, Danna. The Children of Israel: Reading the Bible for the Sake of our Children. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 224 p. $26.00

From Books in Print: "Through stories, vignettes, and notes, Danna Nolan Fewell provides imaginative readings of selected scriptural texts that raise adult consciousness and responsibility toward children. This book is designed to unsettle, to plant suggestions and questions, and to create space for reflection and conversation. It is an experiment to see if a postmodern reading of the Bible can provide a credible ethical vision that can inspire us to do a better job of caring for our children…. Danna Nolan Fewell is Professor of Hebrew Bible, Drew Theological School."

Furnish, Dorothy. Exploring the Bible with Children. Nashville: Abingdon, 1975. 174 p. Out of print.

The premise of this book is that the cultural shifts of the past several decades, including our increased awareness of violence, of pluralism, and of expansions in knowledge, must affect how children relate to the Bible. Children are strangers to us in the sense that they experience changes at a more rapid rate than their parents did. The author links our understanding of modern child development to a critically informed appreciation of the Bible. A concluding chapter explores some models of intergenerational Bible study.


Griggs, Patricia. Opening the Bible with Children. Nashville: Abingdon, 1986. 108 p. $15.00

From the publisher's catalog: "Bible skills are important … because they remove barriers to the meaning of scripture and allow children to explore and understand the Bible. The author shows church school teachers how to integrate Bible skills into the church school curriculum."

Pardy, Marion. Teaching Children the Bible: New Models in Christian Education. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. 224 p. $12.95

From a review published in the journal, Religious Education Fall 1989, by Donald Gowan: "Focuses on the question of the authority of the Bible in the church…with specific references to traditions of authority in her own United Church of Canada, intending to consider how these views affect Christian education…. Pardy's own position grows out of consideration of the work of Hans Georg Gadamer on hermeneutics and of Piaget on child development. [She advocates] a continuous process of question and response, as interpreter and text are encountered by each other."

Person, Hara E. and Diane G. Person. Stories of Heaven and Earth: Introducing Children to the Heroes of the Bible. New York: Continuum, 2005 [scheduled for publication in Feb. 2005]. 288 p. $29.95

From the publisher's catalog: "This scholarly but accessible book is an examination of Old Testament stories as depicted in children's literature. These stories have been adapted by a great number of children's authors and illustrators in fascinating and inventive ways.….Each of the major books of the biblical canon are studied in this lively and jargon-free book, which shows how children are allowed to dream of themselves as heroes while their moral and ethical development are also aided." Hara Person is a rabbi, and Diane, a children's librarian.

Smither, Ethel L. Children and the Bible. New York: Abingdon, 1960. 183 p. Out of print.

Though dated, this book acknowledges what is probably always true, that different parts of the Bible become optimally accessible to children at different ages. ("Any Bible story that confuses, frightens or debases the child's idea of God … should be reserved for older children"-p. 53) After a survey of methods of teaching the Bible, including the use of music, drama, pictures, and story-telling, the author focuses on the content of Bible instruction most appropriate to each age level. The author was director of children's publications of the Methodist General Board of Education (pre-UMC).

IV. Biblical Storytelling

The topic of biblical storytelling can be approached from several perspectives: that of the biblical authors, who practiced distinctive storytelling techniques; that of modern readers, seeking to retell Bible stories in maximally effective ways; and that of the storyteller, past or present, who retells tales from the Bible for our benefit. The books listed here represent all these perspectives. In subsection A are books on narrative technique in the Bible itself; in subsection B are books about retelling Bible stories (these include histories, guidelines, and anthologies of retold stories).

A. Storytelling in the Bible

Adams, Doug. The Prostitute in the Family Tree: Discovering Humor and Irony in the Bible. Louisville: Westminster, 1997. 127 p. $12.00

It takes fresh eyes to uncover the humor within a book as solemnized as the Bible has become. Doug Adams, who teaches Christianity and the arts at the Pacific School of Religion, uncovers in some of the Bible stories disparities between expectation and reality that he suspects were meant to be funny. Likening these stories to ones the elderly tell about their children to their grandchildren, the author finds Biblical humor in the parables and miracles of Jesus, as well as in stories of Genesis and Exodus.

Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, 1981. 195 p. $16.50

This book, now a classic, was one of the first books to bring modern methods of reading fiction to analysis of the Bible. Limiting himself to the Pentateuch and historical writings within Hebrew scripture, the author examines biblical techniques of setting the scene, revealing character, developing plot and dialogue. Two chapters explore the artful use of repetition and reticence in biblical storytelling. Of the stories presented in this year's spiritual growth study, only Joseph's receives extensive analysis here. Robert Alter teaches Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bar-Efrat, Shimeon. Narrative Art in the Bible. London, England: T&T Clark, 2004. 295 p. $28.95 [1st published in 1989 by Sheffield Academic Press]

The author notes in this scholarly book that over one third of Hebrew scripture is written in the form of narrative. He brings literary methods to bear on reading the stories of the Hebrew Bible, with attention to narrative voice (whether overt or covert), character, plot, time, space, and style. Individual Bible stories are discussed illustratively, but only one receives extended analysis according to the methods the author presents, namely the story of Amnon and Tamar (2 Sam 13:1-22).

Boomershine, Thomas E. Story Journey: An Invitation to the Gospel as Storytelling. Nashville: Abingdon, 1988. 220 p. $21.65

Noting that the Greek word, euangelion, implied an oral (rather than written) communication of "good news", the author aims to recover for readers the original spoken impact of the gospel stories. Spoken words tap emotions in ways written words cannot. He shows the applicability of New Testament stories to various church settings: teaching, studying, pastoral care, etc. Of the ten stories analyzed, two overlap with this year's spiritual growth study: Jesus' childhood (Lk 2:1-20) and the Canaanite woman (Mk 7:24-30). At the time of writing, the author taught at United Theological Seminary.

Dennis, Trevor. Lo and Behold: the Power of Old Testament Storytelling. London: SPCK, 1991. 164 p. Out of print.

The author, who at the time of writing taught Biblical studies at Salisbury Wells Theological College, analyzes a selection of Bible stories, from Genesis to Jonah. Commenting as he goes on plot turn and character delineation, he hopes to awaken in readers less familiar with Hebrew scripture a sense for the overall connectivity of the stories it contains.

Handy, Lowell. Entertaining Faith: Reading Short Stories in the Bible. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Pr, 2000. 157 p. $18.99

The author, an independent scholar on staff with the American Theological Library Association, introduces readers to the genre of biblical story, reflecting on its origins in both oral and scribal traditions, and its significance today. With attention to plot, character and setting, he analyzes the stories from the Bible of Jonah, Ruth, Esther and Daniel; and from the apocrypha: Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Judith and Tobit.

Hauerwas, Stanley and L. Gregory Jones, eds. Why Narrative? Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock, 1997. 367 p. $36.00 [1st published by Eerdmans in 1986]

Narrative theology teaches that Christian beliefs find their most effective articulation in story (as opposed to assertion). It provides a context for theorizing about the import of biblical stories for Christian faith. This reader comprises 17 seminal essays in narrative theology, whose beginnings are sometimes traced to an essay by Stephen Crites, "The Narrative Quality of Experience," which appeared in 1970, and is reprinted here. Other reprints come from the work of H. Richard Niebuhr, Hans Frei, and Stanley Hauerwas.

Kam, Rose. Their Stories Our Stories: Women of the Bible. New York: Continuum, 1995. 287 p. Our of print.

Based on a review in Library Journal: This book summarizes and reflects on 36 biblical stories about women. The author provides cultural context for each story and concludes its retelling with a prayer, questions designed to stimulate further thought, and references to related studies on the same story by women writers or scholars.


Kingsbury, Jack Dean. Matthew as Story. Philadelphia: Fortress Pr., 1986. 149 p. $19.00

This book brings literary methods to bear on the plot and character development within Matthew. The author (prof. at Union Theological Seminary, VA) distinguishes between story, which includes plot and character (Jesus, the disciples, the Jewish leaders, the crowds), and discourse, which refers to the presumed teller of the story (the historical author, his self-reconstruction as writer, and the narrator, all of whom may speak in different voices). All the stories from Matthew in this year's study receive brief mention.

Licht, Jacob. Storytelling in the Bible. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1986. 154 p. $15.00

The author, who at the time of writing taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, examines story-telling techniques in Hebrew scripture. He notes that three sources of meaning infuse the stories: fiction, history, and tradition. He extracts some general features of the stories: they tend to be self-contained, "highly scenic," and carefully crafted around patterns of repetition and passage of time. However, of the stories told in this year's spiritual growth study, only the Joseph story receives analysis here.

Miles, Jack. God: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995. 446 p. $15.00

The occasionally unaccountable actions of the biblical God motivate some of the questions posed in this year's spiritual growth study. This book addresses these questions in a uniquely creative way, by understanding God as a literary character within the stories the Hebrew Bible tells. Working his way through the books of Hebrew scripture, the author, a former Jesuit and widely published writer, characterizes God's personality within each of them, as for, example "Friend of the Family" in Gen 25:12-50:18, "Conqueror" in Judges, and even as "Executioner" in Isaiah.

Minor, Mitzi. The Power of Mark's Story. St. Louis: Chalice Pr, 2001. 124 p. $16.99

Taking her cues from such master story-tellers as Dante, Tolkien, and figures within the Jewish rabbinical tradition, the author reads the gospel of Mark as a journey story. The challenges Jesus faces, and the thresholds he crosses, point to similar stages in our own spiritual journeys. Children symbolize the renunciation of ego that this journey requires: "We only receive the basileia [kingdom] of God when we receive it like children" (p. 116). The author teaches New Testament at Memphis Theological Seminary.

Petersen, John. Reading Women's Stories: Female Characters in the Hebrew Bible. Philadelphia: Fortress, 2003. 224 p. $22.00
Opening with the observation that the "ancient Israelite writers developed storytelling into a rich art," the author brings such literary categories as point of view, plot, character, and setting to bear on the stories of three biblical women: Hannah, Tamar, and Deborah. All three women "show enterprise" (to quote from the title of part III of the spiritual growth study), and children figure importantly in each of their identities (Deborah as "mother of Israel," and Tamar and Hannah as seeking to bear children). The author is professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University.

Wire, Antoinette Clark. Holy Lives, Holy Deaths: A Close Hearing of Early Jewish Storytellers. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002. 420 p. $49.95.

Antoinette Clark Wire was a contributor to the 2000-2001 spiritual growth study book, Conflict and Community in the Corinthian Church. In this more recent book, a work of challenging scholarship, she gathers stories from non-canonical biblical literature, the Talmud, midrash, and New Testament, arranges them by principal theme, and analyzes who may have told them and why. She suggests that many of the narrators and retellers of biblical tales in the ancient world were women. Stories analyzed that also appear in this year's study include: the Canaanite woman (Mk 7:24-30), Elijah and the widow's son (1 Kgs 17:1-24), Jephthah's daughter (Judges 11), Jairus' daughter (Matt 9:18-26).


B. Retelling Bible Stories

Baskin, Judith. Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature. Lebanon, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2002. 256 p. $23.95

From Books in Print: In this scholarly study of Jewish midrash, or retelling of Bible stories, "Baskin focuses on the construction of women [in midrashic texts]. Examining rabbinic understandings of the ideal wife, the dilemma of infertility, and women among women and as individuals, Baskin shows that rabbinic Judaism deeply valued the essential contributions of wives and mothers while also consciously constructing women as other and lesser than men." The author teaches Judaic studies at the Univ. of Oregon.

Brenner, Athalya. I am…: Biblical Women Tell Their Own Stories. Minneapolis: Fortress Pr, 2004. 160 p. $17.50

From the publisher's catalog: "Brenner gives voice to many of the otherwise almost voiceless characters of the Hebrew Bible and she allows them to speak in their own voices….The book draws on Brenner's own impressive expertise as well as a broad range of traditional scholarship … and by so doing takes feminist biblical scholarship to a new level." The author is professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Amsterdam.

Cullinan, Colleen Carpenter. Redeeming the Story: Women, Suffering and Christ. New York: Continuum, 2004. 160 p. $19.95

From the publisher's catalog: "Cullinan considers several contemporary novels, including Toni Morrison's Beloved and E. M. Broner's A Weave of Women, and, in conversation with the stories told by and about Jesus, a vision of redemption emerges that emphasizes the wholeness of our experience, the presence of God in our lives, and the power of storytelling to shape our understanding of the present and future." The author is a lecturer and theological researcher at EarthRise Farm in Madison, Minnesota.

Ellingsen, Mark. The Integrity of Biblical Narrative: Story in Theology and Proclamation. Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock, 2002 [1st pub'd, 1990]. 128 p. $16.00

This book builds on the scholarship in narrative theory advanced by Yale University professors Hans Frei, George Lindbeck, and Brevard Childs. Though it is oriented towards preachers, anyone interested in retelling biblical tales in freshly engaging ways can profit from the analyses given here. The book builds towards the construction of a story-sermon, an example of which appears in the final chapter, on Ezekiel 37:1-10 (the vision of the dry bones). The author pastors at Haven Lutheran Church in Salisbury NC.

Graetz, Naomi. S/He Created Them: Feminist Retellings of Bible Tales. Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2003. 132 p. $21.00

From the publisher's catalog: "A feminist retelling of biblical stories: some of the stories deal with the typical feminine concerns of motherhood, barrenness, resentment about polygamy, the after-effects of being raped, the joys of shared gossip, the tribulations of the aging process, and the unique relationship of siblings. The stories also dwell on the tensions between relatives such as Isaac and Ishmael, Rachel and Leah, Sarah and Mrs. Lot, Miriam and her mother Yocheved. Naomi Graetz teaches critical reading skills at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, in the English Department."

Hammer, Jill. Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2001. 294 p. $16.00

Drawing inspiration from Jewish traditions of retelling Bible stories, in imaginative midrash that adds detail and connective links, the author builds on brief Bible verses whole narratives of plot and character. Women whose stories are elaborated here include Eve, Sarah, Miriam, and Deborah. A detailed appendix cites rabbinical sources for the stories, and explains their genesis in the author's imagination.

Kalas, J. Ellsworth. New Testament Stories from the Backside. Nashville: Abingdon, 2000. 124 p. $13.00 [also: Old Testament Stories from the Backside, $13.00]

From the publisher's catalog: "J. Ellsworth Kalas opens up new possibilities of insight into selected New Testament stories by entering them through the "back side" -- through a unique starting point, a creative retelling, a new 'lens', or the eyes of a minor or unsympathetic character. Includes 12 stories and a study guide."

Limburg, James. Old Stories for a New Time. Atlanta: John Knox Pr, 1983. 123 p. Out of print.

Based on a review by Diedrik Nelson published in Word and World: By retelling and analyzing stories from Hebrew scripture, the author hopes to bridge the historical and cultural gap that separates us from their time and place. Among the stories retold are those of the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22), Rebecca and Isaac (Gen 24), Joseph (Gen 37-50), Gideon and Samson (Judg 6-8, 13-16) , Ruth, Esther, and Jonah.

Litherland, Janet. Storytelling from the Bible: Making Scripture Alive through the Art of Storytelling. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Meriwether, 1991. 182 p. $12.95

This publisher specializes in books for the theater. From their catalog: "This complete guide contains the how-to and the material so that anyone may captivate listeners through the enduring art of storytelling. The Bible's most colorful characters are featured in these vibrant and imaginative renditions designed to entertain and challenge. Each story is followed by several questions and ideas to foster discussion."

McKirachan, C. David. I Happened Upon a Miracle: Voices from the Gospels. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 2003. 128 p. $16.95

From Books in Print: "Offers a collection of first-person narratives told in the voices of characters in the life of Jesus, from the Christmas story through the crucifixion and resurrection. Among these characters are the inn-keeper in Bethlehem and a little boy in the crowd fed by the fishes and loaves."

Minirith, Frank. Just Like Us: Fifteen Biblical Stories with Take-Away Messages You Can Use in Your Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004. 240 p. $21.95.

From Books in Print: "A medical doctor, a minister, and a psychologist evaluate fifteen major biblical figures-including Paul, David, Naomi, Gideon, and Daniel-and explain how, like them, we too fit into God's plan. Just Like Us clearly shows that while the accounts of these biblical figures were inspired, they themselves were mere mortals, with the same kinds of strengths, weaknesses, and struggles that we face. Questions for personal reflection at the end of each chapter help us connect the challenges and lessons of those ancient lives to our own."

Newbigin, Lesslie. A Walk through the Bible. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 2003. 96 p. $9.95

From Books in Print: "Shortly before he died in 1998, Lesslie Newbigin recorded a series of eight radio addresses on the basic themes and central figures in the Bible. These addresses, which form the basis of this book, affirm the Bible as the story of the history of humankind….Newbigin invites readers to join him on a journey from Genesis through Revelation, introducing the great biblical figures along the way - Moses, Noah, the prophets, Paul, and, of course, Jesus…. This retelling of the Bible story in compact form is for individuals, teachers, clergy, and adult study groups"

Ochs, Vanessa. Sarah Laughed. New York: McGraw Hill Professional Publishing, 2004. 272 p. $24.95

From Books in Print: "In this vivid collection, Judaic scholar Vanessa Ochs brings the legends of the biblical matriarchs to new life. From Eve's rebellious taste of wisdom to the righteous anger of Job's wife, each woman's story is retold in imaginative prose and accompanied by real-life rituals that you can perform at home, gaining insight into: Finding inner wisdom, Speaking the true self, Being a good friend, Maintaining romantic partnerships, Raising a family, Letting go of children."

Pleins, David. When the Great Abyss Opened: Classic and Contemporary Readings of Noah's Flood. New York: Oxford Univ Pr, 2003. 256 p. $29.95

Annotation based on Books in Print: Though not among the stories retold in this year's spiritual growth study, the biblical story of Noah's ark, which is "the inspiration for numerous children's books and toys," amply illustrates the adaptability of Bible stories to different worldviews. This book sounds a caution to us on retelling Bible stories, that we be aware of the socio-economic vantage points, and the unstated presuppositions of self-interest, from which they can be told: "Pro-slavery advocates, for example, used the story of Noah's Curse on Ham's son Canaan to rationalize the enslavement of Africans." The author teaches religious studies at Santa Clara University.

Price, Reynolds. A Palpable God: Thirty Stories Translated from the Bible. New York: Atheneum, 1978. Out of print.

Reynolds Price, a gifted writer who has been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize, received a National Book Award nomination for this book. The book comprises an essay on storytelling, as well as a collection of story-passages from the Bible he translated himself. Though the translations are not strictly retellings, the care in choice of words, which mirror as far as possible the "full sensory implication" of the original Hebrew or Greek, betrays the writer's creative gift. The stories told, which include those of Joseph and Jephthah's daughter, reveal the alternating presence and absence of God to human beings.

Schram, Peninnah. Tales of Elijah the Prophet. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, 1991. 309 p. $30.00

Elijah figures centrally in one of the stories told in this year's spiritual growth study (1 Kgs 17:1-24). But he is also a prominent figure in the literature of Judaism, which developed a vast lore on him. What the Elijah of Jewish legend shares with the biblical Elijah is a gift for performing miracles. Based on a verse in Malachi (3:24), Elijah evolved into a compassionate mediator, especially between parents and their children. The 37 stories gathered here are culled from the Israel Folktale Archives in Haifa. Their talented reteller, Peninnah Schram, teaches storytelling at Stern College in New York.

Schwartz, Howard. Reimagining the Bible: The Storytelling of the Rabbis. New York: Oxford Univ Pr, 1998. 289 p. $30.00

Readers seeking an introduction to Jewish storytelling history and techniques will find it here. Likening the layered history of Jewish stories to an archeological mound, the author shows how Talmudic, medieval mystical, and more recent hasidic stories all rest on a biblical ground. Cain and Abel, Joseph, Moses and Elijah are among the figures from Hebrew scripture who receive ongoing life in the Jewish stories recounted and analyzed in this book. The author teaches Judaica at University of Missouri in St. Louis.

Scott, Macrina. Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story in the Old Testament. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Pr, 1999. 292 p. $13.95

This book addresses senior citizens who find in the aging process an occasion to reconnect with the Bible stories they remember from youth. The stories discussed include several involving children in the Old Testament: Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, the young Joseph, the infant Moses, and Hannah's son. The author, who is director of the Catholic Biblical School of the Archdiocese of Denver, concludes each story retold with questions for reflection and thematic prayers. [A sequel, Discover Your Story in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, is forthcoming]

Shoemaker, H. Stephen. Godstories: New Narratives from Sacred Texts. Valley Forge, Penn: Judson Press, 1996. 240 p. $16.00

Based on a review by Mark Waters that appeared in Review and Expositor: The author, a Baptist minister, brings his homiletical gifts to retelling the Bible's stories, from Genesis to Revelation. He also reflects on the process of retelling stories, which inevitably incorporates the perspectives of the teller. Drawing from Jewish storytelling techniques, he aims to fashion a Christian haggadah (from the Hebrew: narration) that "mirrors the human condition".

Slusser, Dorothy. Bible Stories Retold for Adults. Philadelphia: Westminter, 1960. 128 p. Out of print.

Noting that "the Bible was not written for children," the author appreciates that the first hearers of the Bible stories were adults. In this book, she aims to present the stories from the book of Genesis with adult readers in mind. Her retellings are ruminations, interweaving the ancient stories with applications of them to modern life. All the Genesis stories in this year's spiritual growth study are included here. A sequel to the book, entitled At the Foot of the Mountain (1961) treats the stories from Exodus. Though the two books are dated, their intention and methodology are current.

The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible [ongoing series]. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992-, $18.00-$20.00

All the books in this series follow the same format. Each presents: texts of Bible stories, brief commentaries on them, retellings of the stories in modern dress. The books draw especially from the Jewish story-telling technique, called midrash, and highlight quotations from midrashic texts. The series is a collaboration of scholars, clergy, and professional storytellers. Individual volumes of special interest to this year's spiritual growth study participants include those on: Genesis, Exodus-Joshua, Judges-Kings, Old Testament Women, Matthew Mark and Luke, John, and New Testament women.

Tarr, Delbert Howard. Double Image: Biblical Insights from African Parables. New York: Paulist, 1994. 209 p. Out of print.

The author, who is North American but has spent much time in Africa, explores the impact of cultural lens on reading the Bible. His thesis is that in their less industrialized, more kinship-oriented society, Africans who read the Bible are closer to its original writers than modern-day Americans. The book interweaves biblical stories of faith, forgiveness, and family relationships with parallel narratives from African folklore.

Vries, Anne. Children in the Bible. St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1966. 187 p. Translated from the Dutch by Marian Schooland. Out of print.

This book comprises five imaginative retellings of stories about children in the Bible: Cain and Abel, Benjamin (one of Jacob's sons), Miriam (sister of Moses), Samuel (the prophet, son of Hannah), and an imagined nephew of Paul. The stories, which are addressed to both adults and children, open paths of expansive reflection on biblical figures whose childhoods are treated very briefly in scripture.

Weber, Hans Ruedi. The Bible Comes Alive: New Approaches for Bible Study Groups. Valley Forge, Penn: Judson Pr, 1995. 67 p. $11.00 [also published under the title, The Book that Reads Me, by the World Council of Churches]

Directed towards leaders of Bible study groups, this book examines successive incarnations of Bible stories, from ancient oral tradition, to written text, to retellings through drama, art, and meditation. The book first appeared as lectures delivered under the auspices of the World Student Christian Federation and the Ecumenical Institute of the WCC. The author was the WCC's Director of Biblical Studies for many years.

Wible, Charles. Bible Stories that Speak to Our Heart. New York: Paulist, 2004. 160 p. $14.95.

From the publisher's catalog: "This book of stories examines the broad map of human love and friendship….The author offers classical stories from Hebrew and Christian scriptures: Boaz and Ruth, Tobias and Sarah, Jonathan and David, Peter and Jesus, Joseph and his brothers, Jacob and Rachel and Leah--stories of emotional relationships both constant and supportive, faithful and content, envious and vengeful, sensuous and pure, those of families, friends, siblings, husbands and wives, and disciples….[The author is] associate pastor at St. Joseph parish in Cockeysville, MD."

Wood, Lawrence. One Hundred Tones of Ice and other Gospel Stories. Louisville, Ky: Westminster Pr, 2003. 192 p. $14.95

Based on a review in Publishers Weekly: These sermonic tales, set in a variety of contemporary and historical surrounds, build on New Testament stories of Jesus to subtly re-communicate the message of the Gospel. The 31 stories, arranged according to he seasons of the year, weave together personal experience, legend, history and biblical verses, with the intent of focusing attention on issues of faith and social concern.

World Council of Churches. By Our Lives: Stories of Women, Today and in the Bible. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1985. 57 p. Out of print.

The stories gathered here, collected by WCC's Sub-Unit on Women in Church and Society, grew out of small group Bible studies among women in India. The women read stories from the Bible in light of often troubling events in their own lives, sometimes from their childhoods. Many of the stories recount failures in the women's communities to realize justice and equality. The concluding chapter offers guidance to readers on using the Bible as a vehicle for retelling their own life stories.


V. Feminist Interpretation of the Bible

Aschkenasy, Nehama. Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression and Escape. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. 181 p. $18.95.

The author, who directs the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut, finds in windows an image of the restricted place women held in the biblical world. Against the backdrop of that image, she explores how biblical women circumvented and escaped that place. The women considered include Bathsheba, Dinah, Ruth, Deborah, Michal, Hannah, and Abigail; and it is striking how well, by replacing "children" with "women", the chapter headings in this year's study would categorize these stories.

Bach, Alice, et al, eds. On the Cutting Edge: The Study of Women in the Biblical World: Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. Harrisburg, Penn.: Continuum, 2004. 288 p. $29.95.

From the publisher's catalog: "These essays in honor of Professor Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza draw on international feminist scholarship indebted to her ground-breaking achievements in the areas of biblical studies, feminist thought and social justice. The contributors represent a wide variety of backgrounds, commitments, methodologies, talents and interests. It exemplifies what Schussler Fiorenza has called 'critical collaboration': women thinking together and creating together."

Bakan, David. And They Took Themselves Wives: The Emergence of Patriarchy in Western Civilization. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. 186 p. Out of print.

Though published 25 years ago, this book is written with sensitivity to the dramatic changes already underway back then in American family life. Focusing on the Pentateuchal stories, the author uncovers mother-centered ("matrocentral") voices, especially within the stories of Sarah, that challenge the patriarchy otherwise so noticeable in the biblical texts. The author concludes that the Bible can support modern, nontraditional views of family life and the nurture of children.

Bellis, Alice Ogden. Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women's Stories in the Hebrew Bible. Louisville: Westminster, 1994. 281 p. $24.95.

Prof. Bellis introduces readers to feminist interpretation of the Bible, both its methods and best-known practitioners, through analysis of stories about women in Hebrew scripture. Stories discussed that are also included in this year's spiritual growth study are: Isaac and Ishmael, the infant Moses, Jephthah's daughter, the deal-making mothers, and Elijah and the widow's son. At the time of writing, the author taught Old Testament at Howard University Divinity School.

Darr, Katheryn Pfisterer. Far More Precious than Jewels: Perspectives on Biblical Women. Louisville: Westminster Press, 1991. 223 p. $24.95.

This book fashions a synthesis of historical-critical, traditional rabbinical, and modern feminist methods of reading the Old Testament. Four chapters focus successively on Ruth, Sarah, Hagar and Esther. Within the commentaries on Sarah and Hagar are reflections on the childhoods of Isaac and Ishmael. At the time of writing, the author taught Hebrew Bible at Boston University School of Theology.

Dennis, Trevor. Sarah Laughed: Women's Voices in the Old Testament. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994. 197 p. Out of print.

Dennis offers literary analysis of the biblical texts on Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Hannah, Bathsheba and the women of Exodus 1-4, who saved Moses' life and raised him. Throughout he highlights the initiative women show. He also uncovers male bias in the telling of the women's stories, and warns against perpetuating biblical misogyny in modern times.

Dube Shomanah, Musa. Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible. Chalice Pr, 2000. 221 p. $32.99

The author opens with an African adage: when the white man first met the African, the white man owned the Bible and the African, the land; soon it was reversed. The author explores the implications for African women Bible readers of what is inescapably the Bible's colonialist heritage for them. A third of the book brings an African feminist reading to the story of the Canaanite woman's daughter (Matt. 15:21-28). The author, who is senior lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University of Botswana, is cited in this year's spiritual growth study.

Dube Shomonah, Musa, editor. Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible. Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001. 254 p. $24.95

This trail-blazing book, cited in this year's spiritual growth study, gathers essays from members of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. Among the topics explored are the dynamics of oral storytelling (so central to African identity), European perspectives embodied in Christian missionary translations of the Bible into African languages, and what the scholar can learn from studying the Bible with laypersons (which has implications as well for intergenerational Bible study). The editor contributes an essay on Jairus' daughter (Mk 5:22-43).

Essex, Barbara J. Bad Boys of the Bible: Exploring Men of Questionable Virtue. Cleveland: Pilgrim Pr, 2002. 122 p. $14.00 [complemented by an earlier book: Bad Girls of the Bible: Exploring Women of Questionable Virtue, Cleveland: United Church Press, 1999. 115 p., $14.00]

This book, written from a feminist viewpoint and against the grain of tendencies within patriarchal traditions to valorize the men of the Bible, explores moral compromise and failure within the lives of Adam, Cain, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Jephthah and Samson. Though of the stories retold in this year's spiritual growth study, only Cain's and Jephthah's are considered here, the issues of trouble and threat this book considers apply as well to the lives of Ishmael and Isaac, Joseph, the baby Moses, and the captive girl.
The author, a UCC minister, coordinates community life at the Pacific School of Religion

Fewell, Danna Nolan and David Gunn. Gender, Power and Promise: The Subject of the Bible's First Story. Nashville: Abingdon, 1993. 207 p. Out of print.

By the Bible's first story, the authors mean the prehistory and narrative of ancient Israel, from the Garden of Eden to the division of the ancient Israelite state (Genesis through Kings). They examine this epic from the standpoint of its more marginal characters, especially the women and children. Stories discussed include from this year's spiritual growth study: Isaac and Ishmael, the baby Moses, Jephthah's daughter, Elijah and the widow's son, and the deal-making mothers. At the time of writing, Prof. Fewell taught at Perkins School of Theology, and Prof. Gunn at Texas Christian University.

Frankel, Ellen. Five Books of Miriam: A Woman's Commentary on Torah. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. 354 p. $16.95

This unusual book (cited in this year's spiritual growth study) retells the contents of the Pentateuch from women's vantage points. Structured according to the Jewish lectionary (which divides the Pentateuch into 54 sections, called parashiot), the book fashions a dialogue between the biblical stories and many of its women characters, for example, Eve, Sarah, Hagar, and Miriam. The author draws from traditional rabbinical literature, and from her own creative imagination.

Hollyday, Joyce. Clothed with the Sun: Biblical Women, Social Justice, and Us. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1994. 241 p. $14.00

Hollyday retells the stories of biblical women so as to highlight their presence, stimulate imagination about their lives, and strengthen commitment to the values they represent. Especially relevant to this year's spiritual growth participants are the chapters on Sarah and Hagar, Jephthah's daughter, Miriam, the widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:8-24), the woman with the blood flow (Mark 5:21-34), and the Canaanite woman (Matt 15:21-28).

Jeansonne, Sharon Pace. Women of Genesis: From Sarah to Potiphar's Wife. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990. 152 p. $17.00

The author, who at the time of writing taught Bible at Marquette University, interprets the stories of women in Genesis against the grain of the biblical bias towards patriarchy. Drawing on techniques of literary analysis, she examines the stories from the standpoint of characterization, dialogue, narrative perspective, ambiguities and lacunae, repetition, settings, names and epithets (this year's spiritual growth study especially notes the presence and absence of names in the Bible). The women discussed are Sarah, the daughters of Lot, Hagar, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Dinah, Tamar, and Potiphar's wife.

Lancaster, Sarah. Women and the Authority of Scripture: A Narrative Approach. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press, 2002. 198 p. $24.00

The author, who teaches at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, and is an ordained elder in the North Texas Conference of the UMC, draws from feminist theology the idea that revelation has roots not only in the Bible text, but also in the personal experience and community of its readers. A narrative approach to revelation alerts readers to the power of stories to shape our lives, through the identifications we make with characters in them, and so to the need for critical awareness of how we choose to be influenced.

Millett, Craig Ballard. Archetypes of Women in Scripture. San Diego, Calif: LuraMedia, 1991. 168 p. Out of print.

This book draws on Jungian theory and goddess symbolism in the work of Jean Shinoda Bolen to specify seven archetypal images of women in scripture: the Father's Daughter, Sister, Wise Woman, Wife, Mother, Daughter, and Catalyst. Each of the types favors an inclination either towards independence or relationality, and carries a dark side that must be integrated. The relational figures are especially relevant to family themes: Sarah, a Mother archetype, provides a lens on Isaac and Ishmael; while Mary, a Daughter archetype, illumines Jesus' childhood. The author is a UCC minister.

Nunnally-Cox, Janice. Foremothers: Women of the Bible. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981. 167 p. Out of print.

This is an introductory survey of stories about women in the Bible. The author cites the verses of the stories and comments briefly. The stories of Ishmael and Isaac, the Canaanite woman's daughter, the baby Moses, Jephthah's daughter, Elijah and the widow's son, and Jairus' daughter all receive attention here. Concluding chapters address the roles of women in the Pauline and patristic literature. The author, an Episcopal priest, was a hospital chaplain at the time of writing.

Russell, Letty, ed. Feminist Interpretation of the Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985. 166 p. $16.95.

Though most of these essays, collected by pioneer feminist theologian, Letty Russell, address theoretical issues in feminist biblical criticism, two of the essays specifically examine stories discussed in this year's spiritual growth study. See Sharon Ringe's "A Gentile Woman's Story" (on the Canaanite woman's daughter, Matt 15:21-28) and Cheryl Exum's "Mother in Israel," on the stories of the matriarchs, including Sarah and Hagar.

Schalberg, Jane. The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995. 262 p. $28.50

This thoughtful book explores the thesis that, according to the earliest stories of Jesus' birth, he was born by normal earthly means, but illegitimately. The author explores the hints of the "illegitimacy tradition" in both Christian and Jewish literature and suggests the recovery of it could open up "fuller human realities and deeper theological potential"(p. 197) for the nativity narratives. This could provide some insight into how children function as lesson objects in the biblical narrative. At the time of writing, the author taught at the University of Detroit.

Schneider, Tammi J. Sarah: Mother of Nations. Harrisburg, Penn.: Continuum, 2004. 144 p. $24.95

From the publisher's catalog: "Sarah, the wife of Abraham and the mother of Isaac in Genesis is a central biblical character because of her role in the establishment of the people later called Israel. In recent years the image of Sarah has not fared well in scholarship where she is depicted as petty, indulgent, self-absorbed, and the oppressor of Hagar. This study examines Sarah and her role in Genesis to understand how women function in the biblical text, how the biblical writers constructed women's roles, and how this impacts a modern reading of the Hebrew Bible."

Schroer, Silvia and Sophia Bietenhard, eds. Feminist Interpretation of the Bible and the Hermeneutics of Liberation. New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003. 178 p. $90.00

This collection of scholarly essays hails from a conference of feminist Bible scholars convened in Switzerland to explore the ideas of Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza (see below). The largely theoretical essays highlight the impact of cultural perspective on reading the Bible, including, for example, such oral traditions of story-telling as inform African and African-American cultures. It provides some tools for interpreting the story telling method of Linda Hollies in our study book. Among the international roster of contributors are Musa Dube Shomonah and Renita Weems, both cited elsewhere on this bibliography.

Schussler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Boston: Beacon, 1995. 223 p. $23.00

The author is one of the premier theorists of feminist Bible interpretation. Schussler-Fiorenza grapples with difficult texts and aims to disarm patriarchal currents in scripture which impact stories of both children and women, while still receiving from it the "bread" that nourishes. She illustrates feminist critique through an analysis of the New Testament household codes (Col. 3:18-4:1).

Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984. 128 p. $15.00

Professor Trible, professor emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, provides a model for reading violent biblical stories such as Hagar with Ishmael and Jephthah's daughter which are also featured in this year's study. By boldly confronting the violence in these stories, Trible hopes to disarm them, and render them vehicles of greater self-understanding for us, their readers.

Wainwright, Elaine M. Shall We Look for Another? A Feminist Rereading of the Matthean Jesus. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1998. 178 p. $18.00

Citing the ground-breaking work of Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza (see above), for her contributions to feminist readings of male characters in the Bible, especially Jesus, the author offers here both theoretical reflections on feminist interpretation, and focused readings of specific sections within Matthew, including Matt 15:21-28 (the Canaanite woman), featured in this year's spiritual growth study. The author teaches Bible at the Catholic Theological College in Banyo, Australia.

Weems, Renita J. Just a Sister Away: A Womanist Vision of Women's Relationships in the Bible. San Diego: LuraMedia, 1988. 145 p. $12.95

Written with particular sensitivity to African American readers, this book interprets the stories of, among others: Hagar and Sarah, Jephthah's daughter, and the baby Moses. Though the uniting metaphor is sisterhood, children figure in several of the chapters, including the last on Lot's daughters, which evokes a meditation on mother-daughter relationships.

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