The sixteen essays in this collection honoring Antoinette Clark Wire were authored by colleagues representing the spectrum of her interests: interculturality, biblical studies, and feminist interpretation. The essays are grouped into four sections: Women and Christian Origins, Placing Women at the Hermeneutical Center, Placing the Text in Context, and Cross-Textual, Intertextual, and Inter-Media Readings. The book also includes a foreword by the editor, a biographical sketch of Wire by her husband and others, and a list of her publications.
The essays are "'What She Has Done Will Be Told...': Reflections on Writing Feminist History" by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza; "Phoebe, A Minister in the Early Christian Church" by Sojung Yoon; "Listen to the Voices of the Women" by Holly E. Hearon and Linda M. Maloney; "Why Did Sarah Laugh?" by Gina Hens-Piazza; "Metaphor and Ambiguity in Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum: A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis" by Mary Therese DesCamp; "Purity and Holiness of Women and Men in 1 Corinthians and the Consequences for Feminist Hermeneutics" by Luise Schottroff; "Accusing Whom of What? Hosea's Rhetoric of Promiscuity" by Marvin L. Chaney; "The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): The Integrity of Identity and Activity" by Herman C. Waetjen; "De-colonizing Ourselves as Readers: The Story of the Syro-Phoenician Woman as a Text" by Hisako Kinukawa; "What's the Matter with Nicodemus? A Social Science Perspective on John 3:1-21" by Richard L. Rohrbaugh; "Sacrifice No More" by Joanna Dewey; "Engaging Lamentations and The Lament for the South: A Cross-Textual Reading" by Archie Chi Chung Lee; "Homer and Scripture in the Gospel of Mark" by Robert B. Coote and Mary P. Coote; "The Life and Death of the Just One: A Community Schism in Wisdom of Solomon" by Barbara Green, O.P.; "AGNEIA as a Sublime Form of ERWE in the Acts of Paul and Thecla" by Eung Chun Park; and "Rendezvous with Thekla and Paul in Ephesos: Excavating the Evidence" by Ruth Ohm Wright.
Since it is not possible to comment on each of these essays in a brief review, I will look at one essay in each of the four sections of this collection.
Schüssler Fiorenza's essay seeks to correct misunderstandings of her book In Memory of Her by pointing out that the book's feminist historical dialectical model of struggle should not be misread in terms of the liberal Protestant historiographical myth of "pristine egalitarian origins and rapid decline into patriarchy." Rather, it is a question of telling the story of Christian origins in a way that provides a written history for women today that resists the discourses of patriarchal domination. Egalitarian social movements striving to change unjust relations of domination have been found throughout history and in many cultures. Thus, she proposes to replace the criterion of historical plausibility with the criterion of possibility, and even preferability. Such an approach, can lead to creating a new myth of Christian origins which furthers the emancipatory struggles of women.
Luise Schottroff proceeds from two assumptions which are not part of the scholarly consensus: that 1 Corinthians is a Jewish halakhic document, and that it is inappropriate to refer to Christians of non-Jewish background in Paul's time as "law-free." She examines the holiness of women's children born as Gentiles (1 Cor 7:14), the holiness of the bodies and lives of women (1 Cor 7:34), and endangering holiness (1 Cor 11:29). She also examines holiness and resurrection as the way to God, concluding that we should not understand holiness and resurrection in a dualistic way but recognize that already Christians live in a spiritual body, but one whose holiness is under threat from the structures of this world.
Joanna Dewey argues forcefully that "sacrificial understandings of Christianity are harmful to people: legitimating hierarchy, encouraging violent behavior, and glorifying innocent victimhood." She points out that blood sacrifice is not a gender-neutral practice: only fathers, real or metaphorical, can perform sacrifice, and sacrifice is seen as men's opposing intentional killing to women's bloody rite of giving birth, which is regarded as polluting. Early Christians rejected blood sacrifice and the hierarchical social order it reinforced and the New Testament, with the exception of Hebrews, does not employ the concept of sacrifice. Only later, in the mid-third century were sacrificial concepts reintroduced and with them notions of (male) priesthood and hierarchy. Today, we must, Dewey concludes, reclaim Christianity as a religion, not of death, but of life.
Robert B. Coote and Mary P. Coote offer a critique of Dennis R. MacDonald's thesis that Homer was the "primary literary inspiration" of the Gospel of Mark. As the Cootes go on to demonstrate, Mark's dependence on the Jewish Scriptures is far greater than his supposed "disguised" imitation of Homer. Their demonstration of Mark's wide-ranging reliance on the Jewish Scriptures is far more significant, in my opinion, than their criticism of MacDonald, it is unfortunate that it is not presented more fully.