Women of War, Women of Woe
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More About This Title Women of War, Women of Woe


The stories of such women as Rahab, Deborah, Jael, Delilah, Jephthah's daughter, and the Levite's concubine raised thorny questions for nineteenth-century female biblical interpreters. Could a Victorian woman use her intelligence to negotiate like Rahab? Was the seemingly well-educated Deborah an appropriate role model? Or did Jephthah's daughter more correctly model a pious woman's life as she submitted to her father's vow?

This unique volume gathers select writings by thirty-five nineteenth-century women on the stories of several women in Joshua and Judges. Recovering and analyzing neglected works from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many others, Women of War, Women of Woe illuminates the biblical text, recovers a neglected chapter of reception history, and helps us understand and apply Scripture in our present context.


Marion Ann Taylor is Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.
Christiana de Groot is Professor of Religion at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


John L. Thompson
— author of Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone
"A spectacular corrective to stereotypes about 'women's writing' about the Bible. . . . These women's writings are passionate and compassionate, yet they also transcend sentiment to display an advocacy for women, children, and the marginalized of their own day. Clearly, these writers unflinchingly took possession of the Bible — and the women of the Bible — for themselves and for their readers. The results are too impressive to be forgotten or ignored, too perceptive of the Bible's tales of human worth and woe for us not to be moved."

Jacqueline Lapsley
— author of Whispering the Word: Hearing Women's Stories in the Old Testament
"Women interpreters recovered! What a pleasure to sit with a mug of tea and spend an afternoon steeped in a previously unknown world — our foremothers' readings of several legendary women in the Bible. Marion Ann Taylor and Christiana de Groot have brought these women interpreters to light, and in so doing they give new life to the familiar biblical women we thought we knew so well."

Timothy Larsen
— author of A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians
"The time has now passed when anyone who claims to be a student of biblical studies or historical theology or women's or religious history can ignore the writings of women on the Bible. We are all indebted to Taylor and de Groot for their pioneering work in creating this much-needed, indeed essential, collection."

Joy A. Schroeder
— author of Deborah's Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation
"This superb anthology is an excellent introduction to nineteenth-century women's astonishingly diverse perspectives on the Bible, gender roles, war and violence, morality, and social issues. Taylor and de Groot have assembled excerpts from a wonderful array of women who commented on Joshua and Judges. . . . Perfect for college and seminary classes."

David M. Gunn
— Texas Christian University
"An outstanding contribution to the history of the Bible's reception. This book is a rich resource of writings from women who were an integral part of the tapestry of nineteenth-century biblical interpretation. Joshua and Judges harbor some of the Bible's more troubling texts, and it makes for fascinating reading to follow the varieties of responses that these interpreters offer to readers of their own times. Skillfully constructed and lucidly presented, Women of War, Women of Woesucceeds in both informing and provoking inquiry regarding the nature and practice of biblical interpretation."

Lissa M. Wray Beal
— Providence University College and Theological Seminary
"No 'archetypal woman interpreter' here — this collection highlights the diversity in nineteenth-century women's biblical interpretation. Edited with respect and love, its recovery work invites readers into conversation with interpretive foremothers and often difficult biblical texts. Insightful editorial commentary and study questions further the discussion, challenging assumed norms and inspiring a new generation to the ongoing interpretive task."