Is it healthy to reexamine biblical interpretations that have lasted for centuries? Will new or revised understandings threaten biblical scholarship or enrich it? Dr. Sandra Glahn and the group of evangelical scholars she gathered to write Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting sexualized, vilified, and marginalized women of the Bible assert that studying familiar passages from a new perspective can only help us gain a more accurate understanding of the text.
Not only a new perspective, but many angles by many eyes coming from a variety of backgrounds. The conservative biblical scholars, both male and female, who contributed to this new work from Kregel hail from various countries, ethnicities, and denominational backgrounds. They also possess differing views on the role of women. But each one holds a high view of Scripture and came to this project “to study [God’s Word] and make sure we are being faithful to it,” says Henry Rouse in the introduction.
Glahn and her team have produced a refreshing examination of fourteen biblical women who mistakenly, they argue, have been given a bad rap by theologians through history. They don’t defend every villainess, such as the obvious Jezebel, but rather those whose stories are told in a negative light without textual substantiation. For example, they ask whether Mary Magdalene truly was a reformed prostitute—where in the Bible do we see that description? Could that (mistaken) understanding of her have come out of confusing and mixed up patristic literature? Was the lone Old Testament female judge, Deborah, merely raised up for lack of qualified males, or can we consider her on par with Samson, Samuel, and the other judges?
For each of the 14 women, such questions are asked, the text examined, and scholarship researched. What does the biblical text say, where did the traditional interpretation arise, and where did it possibly go wrong? Most importantly, what insights into God can we gain by reexamining these stories?
Vindicating the Vixens will reinvigorate old, tired teaching and preaching, giving students and pastors a fresh perspective. Such reexamination, Rouse says, only “confirms that something is right and strengthens our understanding and faith, or it points out where we have been wrong and enables us to correct our course, leading us closer to conformity with Christ.”
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