A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Occasional Posts

Lifetime’s Women of the Bible and conservative Christian theology

On the surface, the Lifetime channel’s special Women of the Bible tells a very different story than The Red Tent. The two-hour program which aired just prior to the miniseries premiere claims to read with the Bible rather than against it, suggesting that the text itself depicts strong and faithful women—no retelling necessary. Moreover, while the miniseries adaptation of Anita Diamont’s novel valorizes goddess worship and condemns the patriarchal bias of the Bible, Women of the Bible recounts the story of selected biblical women from a decidedly conservative Christian perspective.

Old Testament women. CC0 via Pixabay.

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Biblical women and Lifetime’s The Red Tent

The Red Tent. Photo by Joey L. © 2014 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLCThe Red Tent was perfect for the Lifetime channel. The network’s four-hour miniseries closely followed Anita Diamont’s 1997 novel, which gave voice—and agency—to the biblical character of Dinah. In both the novel and the miniseries, Dinah the daughter of Jacob is characterized not as a victim (as in Genesis 34) but as a strong, assertive woman raised by a band of mothers who draw power from one another and from their worship of the Divine Mother rather than the patriarchal god of Jacob. And yet, as much as she delivers strong speeches against patriarchal ways, Dinah Redux does not stray from the traditional scripts for women. Her life is shaped by romances with muscled men and by motherhood.

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Why a New Bible Encyclopedia? Gender Matters

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender StudiesWhy Gender Studies? In the contemporary climate, debates rage about the Bible’s relevance for the design and maintenance of modern social structures. For examples, does same-sex marriage violate the biblical “creation order”? Does the Bible dictate particular styles of child discipline or the gender requirements for religious leaders? What does it say about abortion? Did early Christianity promote women’s equality or subvert it? What about Mary Magdalene? Does the Bible consistently portray the deity as masculine? In Romans 1, did Paul condemn same-gender loving persons or those in pederastic relationships? Are only men’s interests reflected in the Bible?

The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies
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Against Christian Seder Meals during Holy Week

It’s becoming relatively common for Christian churches to observe a seder meal on Maundy Thursday, followed by Holy Communion. Since the gospels describe Jesus’ last meal as held during Passover, these churches attempt to honor the occasion by teaching about Passover.  Some believe they are honoring Jesus’ Jewish roots and seek out Jewish texts and rabbis for help in making the meal feel “authentic.”

But Passover meals don’t belong in the Christian Holy Week.

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Statehood Dependent on Archaeological Finds?

I’ve read several articles in the past few weeks relating the presence of archaeological finds to the question of statehood.

This one from Ha’aretz explains that the Dutch government hopes to support the cause of Palestinian statehood by financing archaeology at Tell Balata, an ancient site within the city of Nablus:

“The creation of institutions can only be sustainable if it goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the cultural identity of the Palestinian people ahead of a negotiated agreement on statehood,”  [representative to the PA] Twiss said, adding that “sites like Tell Balata are simply too important to be neglected.”

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