A massive morning at ‘More than Heroes’!
Over 80 guests were encouraged by biblical scholar Mary J. Evans to read the Old Testament with fresh eyes …
On Monday, 7 May, Mary Andrews College was thrilled to welcome scholar and author Mary J. Evans for ‘More Than Heroes’ – a lecture digging deeply into Old Testament narratives that relate to women.
The 80 guests who attended were encouraged to move beyond a Sunday-school understanding of these biblical narratives, as Mary shed fresh light on the significant role that women played throughout the Old Testament.
MAC’s Principal Rev. Jackie Stoneman summed up the event, saying, “Mary Evans encouraged us to engage with the Scriptures – to ask questions of the text and to wrestle with what we learn from what has been recorded.”
Mary provided valuable exegetical insights by comparing and contrasting many female characters in the Old Testament (including Sarah and Hagar, Caleb’s daughter versus Jephthah’s daughter, Deborah, Rahab, Ruth and Tamar). As MAC lecturer Viv Cheung shared, “She made the biblical text come alive by retelling the stories, picking up along the way frequently missed details (especially in light of the ‘Disney’ version [of the Old Testament] we have grown up with in Sunday school).”
As she spoke on these narratives, Mary pointed out a number of intriguing insights to attendees. These included the way that biblical writers personalise women through detailed description of their thoughts, dress, reactions and feelings, in contrast to the depersonalisation and terrible treatment of women by many male characters.
Mary also emphasised how biblical writers revealed their acute awareness of culture. She argued that instead of condoning the cultural, patriarchal norm of Israel, the writers actually critiqued the evil nature of this mistreatment. Mary noted that the abuse of women intensified at the lowest points of Israel’s history, highlighting the godlessness and breakdown of society.
Viv Cheung shared, “Mary has helped me appreciate the fact that the biblical writers have not shied away from recounting wickedness. The frighteningly realistic descriptions serve as a critique of pervasive evilness, thus urging us to turn toward our righteous and loving God. With what I have learnt, I am looking forward to re-reading these biblical accounts with fresh eyes.”
Attendee Valerie Charlton commented, “I was encouraged by simply being amongst so many women who were also so keen to learn more about the Old Testament. I was renewed in my enthusiasm to re-read Scripture I think I know so well and keep digging for meaning, context and what God is trying to teach me. It was a remarkable morning.”