The Double-Edged Sword of Being a Female Bible Scholar
When I was a seminary student I didn't come across many commentaries written by women, so your contribution to this series is especially meaningful for women like me. Although women still face challenges as a minority in evangelical scholarship, are there any benefits of being a female in your field?
I would say it's almost a double-edged sword. I get invited to speak or to write a chapter in an edited volume, and oftentimes there is a presumption, or it's even directly stated: "We need a woman." We need a woman on this panel, or we need a woman speaker because the last three years we've had men.
So you become the token female voice.
Exactly. So while it gives me a chance to work, I also wonder if my efforts are judged differently. I wonder if people think, "Lynn has been asked because she's a woman, so I'm going to presume that her work is not that good, that she wasn't given this based on her merit or her argument, but just because she's a woman.
There are still tremendous challenges for women in evangelical scholarship, and I'm just not sure how to go forward because of the tokenism mindset. I want to encourage female scholars, but I would want a young, male New Testament scholar to look up to me as much as a female New Testament scholar would. I want to move beyond thinking that I should just mentor women. I should also mentor men, and I think that would be the next frontier.
Do you feel that, as a woman, you are bringing a voice to the table that would not have otherwise been there?
Yes, I do. I have been a mother, I've been pregnant twice, have two children, and nursed them. Those sorts of images are in the biblical text, and I relate to them in a very tangible way. The woman's complex hormonal and reproductive system can make—and I'm speaking really broadly here—a woman very aware of her physical-ness, her embodied-ness, in a way that, for example, I don't always see in my husband. [Men] are just not as tied to the rhythm of their bodies, or their body has a different rhythm than women, and that rhythm of embodiment might help us to appreciate certain aspects of the biblical text.
To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.