'Jesus Christ did not silence women': Female theologians saw biblical texts as 'problematic' – so they wrote their own version instead

Twenty female theologians have revisited the Christian Bible in Une bible des femmes (“A woman’s Bible”). (Image: Getty)
Twenty female theologians have revisited the Christian Bible in Une bible des femmes (“A woman’s Bible”). (Image: Getty)

In what’s being called the “#MeToo moment for theologians,” a group of international female scholars have put together a new understanding of biblical texts — through the lens of feminism. Titled Une bible des femmes (“A woman’s Bible”), the book is the work of 20 theologians — a mix of Catholics and Protestants — hailing from Québec, France, Switzerland, Germany and Africa.

Released last month, the book is available for purchase on Amazon France. In a description on the back page, the authors cite a suffragist as their inspiration for the project. “In 1895, Elizabeth Cady Stanton assembled a committee of twenty women to rewrite the Bible,” the description reads. “They cut out the passages that spoke of women, and commented on them according to their convictions. What would become of a rewrite of the Bible in the twenty-first century by women?”

Une bible des femmes, they say, is the modern-day example. “This book once again brings together a committee of about twenty women theologians,” the description continues. “By taking advantage of discoveries in biblical sciences and thanks to critical feminist questions, the authors develop a dozen major themes related to women, highlighting how biblical texts can be read at new costs.”

The two driving forces behind the text are Lauriane Savoy and Élisabeth Parmentier, both professors at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Geneva. In an email to Yahoo Lifestyle, Parmentier says the book is designed not to change biblical texts but rather to provide commentary on existing ones — specifically those that were used to “silence women” in the past.

“What has been problematic through the ages is that the texts have been [used] in order to submit women to men — and this is not the aim of the biblical witness,” Parmentier tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Jesus Christ did not silence women. He talked with women and took them seriously. This should be our key for interpretation: What is the ‘good news’ of the Gospel?”

One passage that the women have revised, according to a report from France24, is the story of Mary Magdalene. “She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection,” Savoy told France 24. “This is a fundamental character, but she is described as a prostitute.”

Both Savoy and Parmentier say the book is a “tool for women’s emancipation” and a path toward living one’s potential. “Emancipation for women is the freedom to live as a person, not as a rule, the freedom to choose what is the ‘best part,’ not to conform to norms,” Parmentier tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We want to empower women and men to live who they are, in confidence to their vocation as Christians, and we transmit the message that the biblical texts are not a hindrance to this freedom to become who we are called to become: fully human.”

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