This Friendly Guide to Women in the Old Testament provides an easy-to-follow introduction to the stories of women in a range of Old Testament writings for readers of the twenty-first century. It presents an opportunity to explore biblical texts and characters that can be challenging to modern readers, and to discover their relevance and meaning today.
In all their diversity, the women in this book play a vital part in the history of salvation, the great story of God’s involvement with humankind. The stories featuring these women have been considered as so important that they were told and re-told, written down, preserved over many centuries, and finally handed down to us as ‘Word of God’.
This Friendly Guide demonstrates that, even though there are more male than female characters in the Old Testament, women are as significant in bringing about God’s plans – or in hindering them – as are men, and sometimes even more.
Dr Janina Hiebel offers a clear and engaging portrayal of a wide range of women in the Old Testament, from the ‘first woman’ (Eve) in the garden of Eden story to such late legendary figures as Esther and Judith. As one might expect, the Bible devotes considerable attention to mothers: the joys and sorrows, the supports and threats they experienced in bearing children. Among and alongside these were women who acted as leaders of their society – prophets, judges, rulers, and teachers, as well as those who were victims of their society – suffering violence and even death. But the Bible story is not only about Israelite women. Hiebel identifies a number of foreigners who contributed to the advance of Israel’s cause or attempted to subvert it, at times violently. Overall, she provides a gripping read about women in the Old Testament that will challenge and transform a reader’s understanding of them.
Assoc. Professor Mark A O’Brien op
Dr Janina Hiebel teaches Old Testament at Yarra Theological Union and Catholic Theological College, two colleges of the University of Divinity, Melbourne. Originally from Germany, Janina has been living, studying and teaching in Australia for the past twelve years, and has completed her PhD at Murdoch University (WA). Janina’s special field of interest is the period of the Babylonian Exile, in particular the book of the prophet Ezekiel. She has published a book and several journal articles on Ezekiel. Janina has a passion for making biblical texts accessible to ‘everyday people’ and for exploring the ongoing relevance of Old Testament writings and traditions. She lives in a Focolare community in Melbourne.