Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience: Reconsidering 1 Peter's Commands to Wives
Jennifer Bird's first book offers a way to read biblical texts from a perspective that takes into consideration issues related to gender, sexuality, power, Empire, and materiality. Specifically, she employs this method to engage a portion of one of the letters in the New Testament: 1 Peter 3:1-6. The commands to wives in this portion of the letter are to be quietly submissive to their husbands, quiet in spirit and "quiet" in outward adornment. It is one thing to give this advice 2000 years ago, in the climate of a new religious movement that is struggling to survive. It is another altogether to have such advice within the canon of the New Testament. Such comands in scripture have authority in people's lives today, regardless of their potential to harm or oppress people.
"Dr. Bird’s recent book, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience: Reconsidering 1 Peter’s Commands to Wives, indicates the great strength of her critical feminist approach. She not only explores skillfully the socio-political rhetoric of the letter but also contextualizes it in the socio-political and religious experience of contemporary readers. It is paradigmatic not only for a critical historical investigation of the letter but also for developing a feminist cultural and contextual approach to religious texts."
~ Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Harvard University Divinity School
"This book is an excellent academic reflection on the current impact of Biblical texts. Dr. Bird is forthright, honest, and unafraid to tackle the tough issues of submission and obedience in society and marriage. She does a great job explaining the over-arching society in which the Bible was written (ancient Rome), which explains much of oppression in America as a result of imperialism. Dr. Bird further explains imperialism's role in marriage and brings it to relevance to today. I highly recommend this book to any person who wishes to understand the culture 1st Peter arose from, and especially to any one who has suffered abuse and been advised to remain in that abuse because of these passages."
~ Theresa Borugian, High Point, NC
Before Reading Paul,
How often have you read through a passage in one of Paul's letters and wondered not just how to follow his reasoning, which can be convoluted at times, but if he was just speaking to a specific situation and not necessarily speaking about "ultimate truths"?
Have you ever read something in one of Paul's letters and been a bit taken aback? There are times when people read the way Paul speaks in his letters and if it had been written by someone other than Paul, they would think it was a bit arrogant... or harsh ... or divisive. So why isn't it these things, coming from Paul?
Yes, there are aspects of Paul's letters that it is perhaps best if we do not perpetuate. But this is a difficult reality to wrestle with, given how important his letters are within the Christian Bible and in terms of defining Christian theology.
If you're up for another dose of "Permission Granted," but focused on Paul, you are in for a treat with this book.
Permission Granted: Take the Bible into Your Own Hands
So many people read the bible for regular guidance in their lives, yet they are often told not to question what is contained in it. For having such a central role, it seems reasonable to be able to engage it as we do an honest friend. For instance, have you ever wondered about some of the stories in the bible that seem okay with violence, or the way women are talked about in many places?
Permission Granted takes a look at 12 general topics in the bible and leads you through an engagement with them. You now have permission to think about these issues for yourself!
Check out some reviews of Permission Granted: Take the Bible into Your Own Hands, a description and reviews of Jennifer's first book, and a sneak peak at what is next in line: Before Reading Paul, Read This!