As the nation inaugurates a new president, I publish a new book: More Hidden Women of the Gospels. Delayed when presses were shut down by the pandemic, it’s now available for purchase.
The women of the New Testament were a secret treasure I first imagined in Hidden Women Of The Gospels (Orbis Press, 2003, with an earlier edition from Crossroad Publishing, 1996). This book is its sequel and follows a similar pattern. To recreate Biblical women’s stories, I used a “midrash” technique. “Midrashic stories enhance biblical stories, imaginatively filling in blank spaces, expanding on underdeveloped or missing events, or casting them in a contemporary setting or language. Midrash explores the Bible, not through analysis, but through imagination.”
For women who lack an entry to the Bible where all the characters in the story are male, this approach opens doors. Some religious institutions tend to enshrine the Way We’ve Always Done It, and may be slightly rattled to think of beloved Bible figures as feminine. But we know there were women shepherds and servants at the time of Jesus—why not vineyard owners and potters as well? And who isn’t itching to know the imagined story of Zacchaeus’ daughter or Bartimaeus’ wife? What’s another angle on the persistent widow or forgetful bridesmaid of the parables?
No human experience was foreign to Jesus. With his fine sensitivity, he would never ignore nor exclude half the human race. Instead, he shaped his dominant metaphors from women’s experience. He must’ve overheard as a frantic woman thwacked her broom vigorously in search of a coin, or a young girl sobbed because she’d been locked out of the wedding feast. Leaven in dough, patches on cloth, lamps on stands, vines and branches, washing feet and drawing water: all came from the feminine “image bank.” His first female listeners must’ve nodded in agreement, perhaps astonished that someone understood their world.
Ultimately, the point is not only do these women get Jesus’ message, but do we? The questions provided at the end of each chapter are either for individuals to take ownership of the material through personal reflection or for book clubs, through group discussion. Bonus resources include women’s monologues useful for retreats, classes, prayer services, homilies or bulletin inserts.
So what are you waiting for? To order, visit the website https://www.orbisbooks.com/spring-2021/ or call: