Book bloggers are required to say early on in a review if they received a free copy of a book in exchange for review. So, let me be clear: I bought BOTH my copies of Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. Yes, I have two copies. I have my hard copy that is slowly getting filled up with my pink and purple inked underlines, marginalia, and exclamation points. This is the copy I pre-ordered in October 2015 and waited- mostly- patiently for until it arrived last week.
Then I came to work one day without Womanist Midrash and I found myself with a smidgen of reading time. I decided it was worth $15 to me to have it on my Kindle. And, thus, I made it so.
The Reverend Dr. Wil Gafney, as talented as she is lovely and a longtime RevGal, has poured out a masterpiece of biblical interpretation, criticism, and imagination in this book. In her introduction, she compares the book to being invited to a dinner table where one is welcomed to feast on tradition, insight, communal perceptions, and deep discernment. Her introduction also gives a very readable explanation of womanist thought and biblical approach, necessarily separating it from black feminism and from more traditional [white] feminism, which has historically failed at inclusion, intersectionality, and impartiality.
The introduction itself makes me wish I was teaching a Bible class, so that I could assign this book and have a week’s worth of discussions (at least) inside and outside the classroom about what Dr. Gafney spreads out for intellectual and spiritual consumption and rumination.
So far, I have skipped around in the book to my own detriment. I flipped to read “Daughter for Sale”, only to be sent back to read the special section on “The Torah of Enslaved Women”. I would have paid $40 for the latter on its own. The very first chapter “In Beginning, A Beginning” is deeply moving and raises a kind of cheer for a specific kind of “biblical literalism”.
Dr. Gafney’s work covers both familiar stories of biblical women and their sometimes unnamed and ignored, but by no means lesser, sisters. Her use of “sanctified imagination” (which was a new phrase to me) is awe-inspiring, provocative, and faithful. This book brings a much needed height, depth, and breadth to the conversations about biblical womanhood and Divine Prerogative.
I recommend this book for everything: personal devotional use, group devotional use, congregational study, preaching provocation, reference, college or university teaching, combatting patriarchal and/or white supremacist thought in church and faith community, and for inspiring gratitude for the powerful work of the Spirit in Dr. Gafney in preaching, teaching, and writing.
You might not need two copies of the book, but you definitely need one!
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