Tired of seeing the Bible to legitimize a "subjugation of women", some twenty Protestant and Catholic theologians who claimed to be feminists also came together to publish "A Woman's Bible."
The project was launched in Geneva by Elisabeth Parmentier and Lauriane Savoy, two teachers of the theological faculty that were founded more than four centuries ago (1559) by Jean Calvin, the father of French Protestantism.
"We felt around us that there was a lot of ignorance about the biblical texts, many people who do not know them anymore, or who think they are completely outdated and (…) no longer conform to the values: equality, etc. ., "Lauriane Savoy, 33, told AFP.
The idea was, "she continues," to show that feminist values and reading the Bible are not incompatible. "
Quickly merged by the Canadian Catholic theologian Pierrette Daviau, the two Protestants in Geneva gathered a panel of sisters from different geographical, religious and generational departments.
"We wanted to work ecumenically, we are Catholics, Protestants from different families of Protestantism and come from different French-speaking countries, with the idea of representing the diversity of women," said Ms. Parmentier, 57 years old.
– "Relents of patriarchy" –
Published a few weeks ago, "A Women & # 39; s Bible" is also a tribute to a book with a similar title: the "Woman's Bible", published in 1898 under the guidance of the American suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton who , already, indignant male interpretations of the Bible.
"Our chapters explore wanderings of the Christian tradition, occult translations, tendentious translations, partial interpretations, hints of patriarchy that can lead to many restrictions, even prohibitions for women," the authors explain in the introduction of the work.
"In a passage from the Gospel to St. Luke, Martha and Mary (two sisters who receive the visit of Jesus)," details Ms Parmentier ", it is written that Martha provides + service, so we have said that Martha served a meal while the Greek word diaconia could also have other meanings, for example to mean that she might be a deacon. "
Another example of feminist reading with Marie-Madeleine or Marie de Magdala. "The female character is most reflected in the Gospels," recalls Lauriane Savoy. "She stays with Jesus, even if he dies on the cross when all the male disciples are afraid, she first goes to the grave and discovers the resurrection (…) it is then a fundamental person that she was described as a prostitute who stood at the feet of Jesus, perhaps even the lover of Jesus in recent fiction, "says Ms. Savoy.
Theologians also ensure that the texts are placed in context and scope, especially when they reread some letters sent by Saint Paul to emerging Christian communities that contain passages that can easily be read as radically anti-feminist.
"It is like taking letters that someone sends to give advice, given that they are valid for eternity (…) so we are fighting a literalist reading of the texts in the first degree," says Ms. Parmentier.
– "Today's questions" –
So theologians approach the Bible through different themes: the body, seduction, motherhood, subordination … The book ends with giving the word to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
And at a time when the # Metaloo movement has revived the feminist struggle, "every chapter is based on existential questions from women, questions that arise today," added Ms. Parmentier.
The book is a "good start to success", welcomes its publisher, Matthieu Mégevand, director of the protestant publisher Labor and Fides.
On the one hand, "we are surprised because, when we put the word + Bible + into a title, it sometimes tends to postpone," he told AFP. "But we also thought it might be interesting given current feminist issues."
"Compared with those who say that we should throw the Bible when we are feminist, it is exactly not necessary, just like our bet," Ms Parmentier emphasizes.