Children of the Bible
A Bibliography to Accompany the Spiritual Growth Study
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.
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.
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
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
Children in the Bible
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.
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.
Peter. The Parent-Child Relationship in the New Testament
and its Environment. Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003. 279
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.
Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Bantam,
1999. 752 p. $27.50
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.
Marcia, ed. The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2001. 527 p. $29.00
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.
Lucien. Joseph, Mary, Jesus. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical
Press, 1996. 168 p. $14.95. [originally in French]
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.
Eugen. Discovering the God Child Within: A Spiritual Psychology
of the Infancy of Jesus. New York: Crossroad, 1994. 202
p. Out of print.
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.
Edwin D. Stories of Jesus' Birth: A Critical Introduction.
St. Louis: Chalice Pr, 2001. 183 p. $19.99.
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.
Joseph. Children's Liberation: A Biblical Perspective.
Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1991. 128 p. Out
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
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
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.
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
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
Lockyer, Herbert. All the Children of the Bible. Zondervan,
1970. 287 p. Out of Print
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.
David. Jephthah and His Vow. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech
Pr, 1986. 77 p. Out of print.
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."
Megan. Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected Stories
from the Bible. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 1998. 225
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.
Daniel, ed. Kingdom and Children: Aphorism, Chreia, Structure.
(Semeia, 29). Chico, Calif: Scholars Press, 1983. 130
p. Out of print.
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
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.
Mark. What the Bible has to Say about Children. Nashville:
Abingdon, 2003. 96 p. $8.00
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
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."
Roy. Precious in His Sight: Childhood and Children in
the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1996. 280
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."
Family in the Bible
John T. What the Bible Really Says about Love, Marriage,
and the Family. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press, 1994. 152
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."
Aimee. Family Abuse in the Bible: the Scriptural Perspective.
New York: Haworth Press, 2002. 144 p. $19.95
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.
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
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.
John J., et al, eds. Families in Ancient Israel. Louisville,
Ky: Westminster, 1997. 272 p. $20.00
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.
Edith. Family Living in the Bible. New York: Harper and
Row, 1963. 274 p. Out of print.
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.
Cain Hope. Troubling Biblical Waters: Race, Class and
Family. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1989. 233 p. $19.00
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.
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
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.
Diane. Beyond Patriarchy: The Images of Family in Jesus.
New York: Paulist Press, 1993. 208 p. $13.95
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
Halvor, ed. Constructing Early Christian Families: Family
as Social Reality and Metaphor. Routledge, 1997. 267 p.
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
Jay. Biblical Religion and Family Values: A Problem in
Philosophy of Culture. London: Prager, 2001. 342 p. $99.95.
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.
Carolyn and David Blach. Families in the New Testament
World: Households and House Churches. Philadelphia: Westminster,
1997. 329 p. $25.00
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.
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
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.
C. William. The Word on Families. Nashville: Abingdon,
1985. 156 p. Out of print
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.
Naomi. Kinship and Marriage in Genesis: A Household Economics
Perspective. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1993. 162 p. Out
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.
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
Ruth B. The Bible for Children: From the Age of Guttenberg
to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
338 p. $50.00
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.
Robert. The Spiritual Life of Children. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1990. 358 p. $14.00
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.
Iris V. The Bible in Christian Education. Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1995. 144 p. $11.25 [An earlier version was
published by Westminster Press in 1962]
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.
Robert. The Bible in Religious Education. Edinburgh, Scotland:
Handsel Pr, 1979. 64 p. Out of print.
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.
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
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.
Danna. The Children of Israel: Reading the Bible for the
Sake of our Children. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 224 p.
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
Dorothy. Exploring the Bible with Children. Nashville:
Abingdon, 1975. 174 p. Out of print.
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
Griggs, Patricia. Opening the Bible with Children. Nashville:
Abingdon, 1986. 108 p. $15.00
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."
Marion. Teaching Children the Bible: New Models in Christian
Education. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988. 224
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
specific references to traditions of authority in her
own United Church of Canada, intending to consider how
these views affect Christian education
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."
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
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.
Ethel L. Children and the Bible. New York: Abingdon, 1960.
183 p. Out of print.
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).
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).
Storytelling in the Bible
Doug. The Prostitute in the Family Tree: Discovering Humor
and Irony in the Bible. Louisville: Westminster, 1997.
127 p. $12.00
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.
Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic
Books, 1981. 195 p. $16.50
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.
Shimeon. Narrative Art in the Bible. London, England:
T&T Clark, 2004. 295 p. $28.95 [1st published in 1989
by Sheffield Academic Press]
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).
Thomas E. Story Journey: An Invitation to the Gospel as
Storytelling. Nashville: Abingdon, 1988. 220 p. $21.65
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
Trevor. Lo and Behold: the Power of Old Testament Storytelling.
London: SPCK, 1991. 164 p. Out of print.
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
Lowell. Entertaining Faith: Reading Short Stories in the
Bible. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Pr, 2000. 157 p. $18.99
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.
Stanley and L. Gregory Jones, eds. Why Narrative? Eugene,
Or.: Wipf and Stock, 1997. 367 p. $36.00 [1st published
by Eerdmans in 1986]
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
Rose. Their Stories Our Stories: Women of the Bible. New
York: Continuum, 1995. 287 p. Our of print.
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
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.
Jacob. Storytelling in the Bible. Jerusalem: Magnes Press,
1986. 154 p. $15.00
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
Jack. God: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995. 446 p.
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.
Mitzi. The Power of Mark's Story. St. Louis: Chalice Pr,
2001. 124 p. $16.99
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
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.
Antoinette Clark. Holy Lives, Holy Deaths: A Close Hearing
of Early Jewish Storytellers. Atlanta: Society of Biblical
Literature, 2002. 420 p. $49.95.
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
Judith. Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in
Rabbinic Literature. Lebanon, N.H.: University Press of
New England, 2002. 256 p. $23.95
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.
Athalya. I am
: Biblical Women Tell Their Own Stories.
Minneapolis: Fortress Pr, 2004. 160 p. $17.50
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
.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.
Colleen Carpenter. Redeeming the Story: Women, Suffering
and Christ. New York: Continuum, 2004. 160 p. $19.95
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.
Mark. The Integrity of Biblical Narrative: Story in Theology
and Proclamation. Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock, 2002 [1st
pub'd, 1990]. 128 p. $16.00
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.
Naomi. S/He Created Them: Feminist Retellings of Bible
Tales. Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2003. 132 p. $21.00
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
Jill. Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women. Philadelphia:
Jewish Publication Society, 2001. 294 p. $16.00
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.
J. Ellsworth. New Testament Stories from the Backside.
Nashville: Abingdon, 2000. 124 p. $13.00 [also: Old Testament
Stories from the Backside, $13.00]
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."
James. Old Stories for a New Time. Atlanta: John Knox
Pr, 1983. 123 p. Out of print.
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
Janet. Storytelling from the Bible: Making Scripture Alive
through the Art of Storytelling. Colorado Springs, Colo.:
Meriwether, 1991. 182 p. $12.95
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."
C. David. I Happened Upon a Miracle: Voices from the Gospels.
Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 2003. 128 p. $16.95
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."
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.
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."
Lesslie. A Walk through the Bible. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster,
2003. 96 p. $9.95
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
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"
Vanessa. Sarah Laughed. New York: McGraw Hill Professional
Publishing, 2004. 272 p. $24.95
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."
David. When the Great Abyss Opened: Classic and Contemporary
Readings of Noah's Flood. New York: Oxford Univ Pr, 2003.
256 p. $29.95
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.
Reynolds. A Palpable God: Thirty Stories Translated from
the Bible. New York: Atheneum, 1978. Out of print.
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.
Peninnah. Tales of Elijah the Prophet. Northvale, N.J.:
Jason Aronson, 1991. 309 p. $30.00
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.
Howard. Reimagining the Bible: The Storytelling of the
Rabbis. New York: Oxford Univ Pr, 1998. 289 p. $30.00
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
Macrina. Bible Stories Revisited: Discover Your Story
in the Old Testament. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger
Pr, 1999. 292 p. $13.95
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]
H. Stephen. Godstories: New Narratives from Sacred Texts.
Valley Forge, Penn: Judson Press, 1996. 240 p. $16.00
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".
Dorothy. Bible Stories Retold for Adults. Philadelphia:
Westminter, 1960. 128 p. Out of print.
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.
Storyteller's Companion to the Bible [ongoing series].
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992-, $18.00-$20.00
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.
Delbert Howard. Double Image: Biblical Insights from African
Parables. New York: Paulist, 1994. 209 p. Out of print.
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
Anne. Children in the Bible. St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia
Publishing House, 1966. 187 p. Translated from the Dutch
by Marian Schooland. Out of print.
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.
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]
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.
Charles. Bible Stories that Speak to Our Heart. New York:
Paulist, 2004. 160 p. $14.95.
the publisher's catalog: "This book of stories examines
the broad map of human love and friendship
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,
Lawrence. One Hundred Tones of Ice and other Gospel Stories.
Louisville, Ky: Westminster Pr, 2003. 192 p. $14.95
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.
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.
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
Nehama. Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression
and Escape. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998.
181 p. $18.95.
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.
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.
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."
David. And They Took Themselves Wives: The Emergence of
Patriarchy in Western Civilization. New York: Harper and
Row, 1979. 186 p. Out of print.
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
Alice Ogden. Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women's Stories
in the Hebrew Bible. Louisville: Westminster, 1994. 281
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
Katheryn Pfisterer. Far More Precious than Jewels: Perspectives
on Biblical Women. Louisville: Westminster Press, 1991.
223 p. $24.95.
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.
Trevor. Sarah Laughed: Women's Voices in the Old Testament.
Nashville: Abingdon, 1994. 197 p. Out of print.
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.
Shomanah, Musa. Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of
the Bible. Chalice Pr, 2000. 221 p. $32.99
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.
Shomonah, Musa, editor. Other Ways of Reading: African
Women and the Bible. Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical
Literature, 2001. 254 p. $24.95
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).
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]
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
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.
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.
Ellen. Five Books of Miriam: A Woman's Commentary on Torah.
San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. 354 p. $16.95
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.
Joyce. Clothed with the Sun: Biblical Women, Social Justice,
and Us. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1994. 241 p. $14.00
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).
Sharon Pace. Women of Genesis: From Sarah to Potiphar's
Wife. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990. 152 p. $17.00
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
Sarah. Women and the Authority of Scripture: A Narrative
Approach. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press, 2002. 198 p.
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.
Craig Ballard. Archetypes of Women in Scripture. San Diego,
Calif: LuraMedia, 1991. 168 p. Out of print.
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.
Janice. Foremothers: Women of the Bible. San Francisco:
Harper and Row, 1981. 167 p. Out of print.
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.
Letty, ed. Feminist Interpretation of the Bible. Philadelphia:
Westminster, 1985. 166 p. $16.95.
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.
Jane. The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological
Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives. Sheffield, England:
Sheffield Academic Press, 1995. 262 p. $28.50
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.
Tammi J. Sarah: Mother of Nations. Harrisburg, Penn.:
Continuum, 2004. 144 p. $24.95
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."
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
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.
Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of
Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Boston: Beacon, 1995.
223 p. $23.00
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).
Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of
Biblical Narratives. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984. 128
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.
Elaine M. Shall We Look for Another? A Feminist Rereading
of the Matthean Jesus. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1998. 178
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.
Renita J. Just a Sister Away: A Womanist Vision of Women's
Relationships in the Bible. San Diego: LuraMedia, 1988.
145 p. $12.95
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.