International Women’s Day is an important day dedicated to challenging global inequities, and I hope my book, even with its focus on ancient texts, contributes to that effort. I am honored that two fantastic scholars from whom I have learned much endorsed my book. That they are both women makes their positive words all the more meaningful and also I think appropriate.
Michael Thomson mentioned and quoted one of those endorsements when he wrote something really nice himself about my book on Facebook recently. I thought I should share it here:
Congratulations to James McGrath for a thoughtful and imaginative exploration of the life of Jesus, in particular attending to what we find in the record that displays affinities he detects between what Jesus teaches and what Jesus would have learned from the women in his world, that in this book are allowed to step out of the shadows and into the foreground. A great exercise in historical sleuthing and deep sympathetic reading that allows us to look at these texts in surprising and even transformative ways. Thank you James! As April DeConick remarks, we find that Jesus learned from women “beyond the normal socializing of boys by their mothers [and included] how structural injustices disadvantage (and even ravage) the poor, the sick, foreigners, and women. [This book is] beautifully written to engage our imaginations and to remind us that if Jesus listened and learned from women, well, perhaps modern Christians bent on keeping women submissive and scholars intent to dismiss feminist critique ought to listen to them too.”
I am really grateful to April DeConick and Adele Reinhartz for their endorsements that appear on the back cover. I am also grateful to various kind and encouraging words that were shared by various people who provided feedback on the manuscript at various stages of my work on it. These include any number of things that were never in the category of the kinds of endorsements a publisher would put on a book cover. But I still think they are important, certainly to me, but perhaps also in conveying something to others about the book as well. My favorite is my wife saying that the book is a treasure. I was also touched that, when the physical copies arrived, she immediately picked one up and started reading the book again! One academic who read the manuscript prior to publication told me they read the conclusion aloud to their spouse, with some crying and cheering involved. I honestly never dared to hope that anything I would write would not merely inform but genuinely inspire and move readers. I cannot wait to find out whether other readers have that kind of experience as well.
Of related interest:
Jaime Clark-Soles also has a new book out on women in the Bible. I hope that she and I get to have a conversation about our books at some point! In the meantime, here is a video in which she talks about the book, the motivation behind it, and what she hopes readers will take away from reading it:
Bible Odyssey is featuring and sharing lots of articles and entries on their website, old and new, that relate to the Bible and women, to mark Women’s History Month. Here are some examples:
Women and witchcraft in the Torah and subsequent Jewish literature
An ancient funerary inscription for a twelve year old girl (the same age as one that features in a Gospel story discussed in my book)
And lest anyone think for a moment that issues of feminism and patriarchy as they relate to faith are not pressing contemporary concerns: