One of the basic tenants of feminist methodology in religion is the recovery of women’s history. There are many ways to approach such a task. In religions with sacred writings, one avenue for recovery may be reinterpreting them. This could come in the form of a critique. For example, traditional interpretations may overlook or undervalue women, who appear in the text, reaffirm sexist, patronizing, and/or misogynist viewpoints already found in the text, or develop new ones. In order to recover women’s history, feminists working with their sacred texts would then call out these interpretations for their sexism. They would correct phrasing, understanding, and even translations, when necessary.
In addition to critiquing, feminist interpretations of scripture could also be constructive. Religious feminists may highlight values, teachings, and images that affirm women’s lives. They may incorporate documented history into their interpretations as proof of expanded roles for women. That would then contextualize or negate later traditions that deny women such roles.
Continue reading “Breathing Life into the Women of Chayei Sarah by Ivy Helman.”