“I am the Queen of Sheba and I am not impressed.” This is the first line of one of the monologues from chris wind’s book Thus Saith Eve. This book features 18 stories of biblical women, and a 19th, Lilith, from Jewish mythology. Each monologue offers a new interpretation and gives a voice to the women that we think we know.
In this book the voices and personalities of women such as Noah’s wife, Mary of Bethany, Zipporah, and Vashti are reimagined in an exciting and empowering way. Each of the stories also features an appendix where the reader can learn more about the biblical or mythological context of the woman who is telling her story.
As in her other works, wind uses historical people, events, and understandings to build a truly wonderful source of feminist fiction. In addition to being an extremely enjoyable and thought provoking read, the monologues can also be used for audition and performance pieces. On her website wind explains that two of the monologues, “I am Eve” and “I am Mary” can be performed with specific musical selections in the background. You can find those selections linked to her website above.
One of the monologues, featuring Mary of Bethany, starts with the line “That’s right. There were thirteen of us. One of us was a woman.” I may be a bit biased because Mary of Bethany is one of my favorite biblical women, but the way in which wind is able to bring forth the snarky, smart, and confident essences of these women is truly masterful. Mary’s story goes on to explain how women have been edited out of the biblical texts throughout the ages and highlights the importance of the Apocrypha and other similar texts.
In the monologues of another Mary, this time Magdalen, wind uses pieces of the resurrection story from multiple gospels to highlight the importance of the women’s role in proclaiming the resurrection. Mary says, “You see, Christ knew He could trust us to tell the others exactly what had happened. And we did. We ran laughing, ecstatic, with joy and love, and told the world who we were and what we had seen. But sadly, typically, our “words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11). So weak is your faith, so strong your misogyny.” In addition to that wonderful last line, I also love the image of joy and love that wind creates in this monologue. To think of these women, so joyful, so excited to share the news of the resurrection makes me appreciate their role in the biblical story even more.
The monologue “I am Eve” allows Eve to respond to many of the accusations that theology and society have leveled at her. She says, “I have also been charged with a lack of faith. Yet I took it on faith in the first place that God told us not to eat from the tree: remember, he gave the command to Adam before I even existed (Gen. 2:16-17). Further, I had faith in the serpent, I trusted the serpent to be telling the truth. Is it dishonorable to trust?…God commanded innocence, then held me responsible for an act of innocent intent.”
By imagining and expanding the personalities and voices of these women wind allows us to read the biblical text, as well as understand the history, in a completely new way. As I read this book I felt like I got to know these biblical and mythological women in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined possible. In addition to simply being a truly enjoyable fiction read I believe these monologues would also be a wonderful addition to a daily spiritual practice, and look forward to using them in that way myself.
Dr. Katie M. Deaver, earned her Ph.D. in Feminist Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Deaver holds a B.A. in Religion and Music from Luther College in Decorah, IA, as well as MATS and Th.M. degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her dissertation explored the connections between the Christian understanding of atonement theology and the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States. Her other areas of interest include the connection between power and violence, sexual ethics, and working toward the elimination of the oppression and exploitation of women and girls around the world.