Recently, a cohort of women theology students (and Betwixt listeners!) asked me to join them for a discussion on women in theology and biblical studies. They expressed frustrated by the lack of women biblical scholars and theologians on their program reading lists.
We've all heard the excuses: There are so few women working in the field, women scholars work on peripheral subjects. or women should not be in a position to teach. While much work has been done around this last objection (See the Betwixt Podcast series on The Image of God and Feminine Experience), I'm intrigued by the first two points of resistance.
When I first began reaching out to women biblical scholars many years ago, I did hear this concern about being marginalized to the "periphery" by pursuing work related to gender or women's biblical interpretation. There was a time when studying things like gender & bodies, women & violence, or ancient near eastern households was considered peripheral. But I don't think this is a valid concern any longer for two reasons.
Many women scholars are leading and contributing to theological and biblical studies in the same way as male theologians and scholars. They write commentaries and peer-reviewed scholarly articles (check out google books and google scholar!) and they engage systematic theology, philology, and biblical, textual and historical criticism in the same way as male scholars.
The idea that biblical themes that relate to women are peripheral is untenable and, I suggest, a hold-over of enlightenment ideology. How can one possibly remove bodies, social structures, violence, households, the concerns of women, etc. from the center of theological interpretation and retain devotion to the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Bible? If these themes are absent in traditional scholarship, perhaps it isn't a matter of theological value but rather because they are not of value to the dominant perspective.
One of the women in the theology cohort asked me for recommendations of women theologians and biblical scholars since they were not included on her course reading list. So, I took the opportunity to make a SUPERLIST of Women Biblical and Theological Scholars. With the help of many friends, this list has grown to 13 pages of 9 pt font and counting!
These are women scholars making impact in their fields or who have impacted my own theological investigation. These women are not working on peripheral topics. What would it look like for students, pastors and scholars to center these voices? What new insights and perspectives can open up the wonder of God's kingdom? Who are the young women and men this list can inspire to stand on the shoulders (or book spines) of these women scholars?
Please feel free to share. This is a working google docs list so I hope you will add any women whom I have neglected! And if anyone wants to serve as an admin or editor to help this list grow, please let me know!