Wilda C. Gaffney uncovers the pain and life experiences of women in the Torah and Chronicles of the Hebrew Bible. I love this book, but listening to it puts me in a mood. It's hard to face the number of times I read Scripture while ignoring what it says because I don't want to feel the implications of the story or don't have time to bear the pain of doing so. Who, but God, can feel the pain the human race has experienced during its existence?
"I call your name."
"We call your name."
How many times do we praise the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob without bothering to wonder who the God of Sarah was?
I don't do that anymore. I haven't for years, but there are plenty of stories I don't dig into because I don't want to face the pain or do the work of discovering what they could mean in a way that doesn't dismiss the pain of the marginalized in the story. And that is the type of interpretation I feel I grew up in the faith with.
It was, "Let's make Abraham, Isaac, David, and even Sarah great without considering the people they left devastated in their wake. Because we can't explain why it was 'okay' to do to Hagar what was done to Hagar, so let's ignore it rather than find a way that the Bible has infallibility and meaning in our lives today while at the same time understanding the history it records for what it is: unrighteous."
Gaffney talks about calling the names of the unknown women of Scripture, those women who are only a line. "His mother's name was Jerusha, daughter of Zadok." 2 Chronicles 17:1
There is importance in who they were, and yet we know nothing about them. Years before reading her book, I wrote out a genealogy of women in the line of Jesus. She is one of them, a daughter of the priestly line rather than a foreign princess as so many of them were.
Calling the names of these women makes me wonder how I can call the names of the women around me. How do I remind them of who they truly are? Daughters of Eve, the mother of all living. Sisters of Mary, the bearer of the Christ-child, promised as the triumph over the serpent. Mothers of future generations. One, but many. Lights of the world.
How do I tell them they are wonder-full? How do I remember it about myself?