Cart 0 Log In
SBL Press Bookstore
Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible
Christiana De Groot, Marion Ann Taylor, editors
Publication Date
September 2007


Women have been thoughtful readers and interpreters of scripture throughout the ages, yet the usual history of biblical interpretation includes few women’s voices. To introduce readers to this untapped source for the history of biblical interpretation, this volume presents forgotten works from the nineteenth century written by women—including Grace Aguilar, Florence Nightingale, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others—from various faith backgrounds, countries, and social classes engaging contemporary biblical scholarship. Due to their exclusion from the academy, women’s interpretive writings addressed primarily a nonscholarly audience and were written in a variety of genres: novels and poetry, catechisms, manuals for Bible study, and commentaries on the books of the Bible. To recover these nineteenth-century women interpreters of the Bible, each essay in this volume locates a female author in her historical, ecclesiastical, and interpretive context, focusing on particular biblical passages to clarify an author’s contributions as well as to explore how her reading of the text was shaped by her experience as a woman.

Christiana de Groot is Professor of Religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the author of The Alien in Israelite Law (1991).

Marion Ann Taylor is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College, The University of Toronto. She is the co-editor of Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on the Women of Genesis (2006) and the author of The Old Testament in the Old Princeton School (1812–1929) (1992).

“The Canadian Society for Biblical Studies is to be congratulated on drawing attention to the major contributions made to biblical interpretation in the nineteenth century by women readers and scholars. This is an exploratory volume noting several of the most significant such authors who chiefly worked outside the professional world of Christian scholarship. … The essays are exploratory and notes and bibliographies invite fuller development. The book focuses on the impact of the Bible in the wide field of human social life, thereby broadening the scope of biblical interpretation, including gender studies. Altogether this is a welcome and significant contribution, which should assist substantially in integrating biblical scholarship into the larger field of the humanities.”
— R. E. Clements, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

“Following an excellent Introduction by the editors that succinctly explains the development of the Ideology of Separate Spheres following the Industrial Revolution, the book presents a collection of essays evaluating the scriptural interpretations provided by thirteen nineteenth-century British and North American women. … The authors make clear that these women exegetes offered insights independent to those of (male) academics and that … these womanly styles of reading scripture … percolated through the wider world of biblical studies. It is for this widening of the nature of the field that their work is particularly honoured here.”
—Heather A. McKay, Journal of Semitic Studies