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Feminist theologians publish 'A Women's Bible' challenging traditional interpretations
Geneva theology professor Lauriane Savoy holds an edition of 'A Women's Bible' on Nov. 20, 2018 in Geneva. Tired of seeing their holy texts used to justify the subjugation of women, a group of feminist theologians have joined forces to publish 'A Women's Bible.' (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Feminist theologians publish 'A Women's Bible' challenging traditional interpretations

A group of 20 feminist theologians have published "A Women's Bible," which provides alternative interpretations of traditional scripture and aims to challenge text that might justify the subjugation of women.

What are the details?

"Une Bible des Femmes" ("A Women's Bible") was the brainchild of two theology professors from Switzerland and hit the market in October.

Lauriane Savoy and Elisabeth Parmentier of the University of Geneva joined forces with 18 other women — half Catholic, the rest varying denominations of Protestants — to create a version of the Good Book that is applicable in the age of the #MeToo movement.

"Feminist values and reading the Bible are not incompatible," Savoy told AFP.

Parmentier added, "While some say that you have to throw out the Bible to be a feminist, we believe the opposite."

The authors write that they have taken on "the lingering patriarchal readings that have justified numerous restrictions and bans on women."

Any examples?

Parmentier pointed to a story in the Gospel of Luke, which tells of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and her sister, Mary.

Luke 10:38-42 of the New King James Version states:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

And Jesus answered her and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

"It says that Martha ensures the 'service,' which has been interpreted to mean that she served the food," Parmentier told AFP, "but the Greek word diakonia can also have other meanings, for instance, it could mean she was a deacon."

Savoy contends that Mary Magdalene's role has also been misunderstood in many Biblical interpretations.

"She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection," Savoy said.

"This is a fundamental character, but she is described as a prostitute ... and even as Jesus' lover in recent fiction," the professor added, insisting that Mary Magdalene has gotten a raw deal from other scholars.

Anything else?

The authors' intent was to put the ancient writings in an appropriate historical context.

"We are fighting against a literal reading of the texts," Parmentier said. "It's like taking a letter someone sent to give advice as being valid for all eternity."

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