Thoughts on Misunderstood Women (and Men) in the Bible

This past week I’ve posted some stories about misunderstood women of the Bible: Mary Magdalene, Jephthah’s daughter, Bathsheba, and the Woman at the Well.

A friend of mine kindly pointed out that I hadn’t done any posts recently about men in the Bible and that my blog might be more balanced if I included some male characters. I thought he might have a decent point, so I begin to think about what I could say about other stories. But I ran into a few problems…

It was harder to find things that were as scandalous about the male characters. And, the things that are possibly misunderstood often tend to go in the opposite direction. Instead of being overly sexualized or putting them in a negative light, these misunderstandings tended to make them more heroic.

For example, I thought about David and what we might misunderstand or overdramatize in accounts of his life. One of them concerns his encounter with Goliath. Technically, from the Hebrew wording we don’t know for sure that Goliath was a huge giant. He might have just simply been on the tall side…picture going up against Michael Jordan, tall but not a 9 foot giant.

In contrast, Mary Magdalene, who was the first to testify of Christ’s resurrection, falsely went down in history as being a prostitute. Bathsheba, though raped, is thought of as a seducer of a king. The woman at the well is called an immoral woman.

All three misunderstandings of these women paint them in a negative light concerning their sexuality. The possible misunderstanding about David and Goliath only makes David look even better. Later on when he does commit a crime for which God holds him accountable (i.e. raping Bathsheba), we tend to let him off the hook.

Now, I recognize that I haven’t carefully analyzed every single story in the Bible and that my feminine bias may cause me to look more carefully at stories about other women. Yet, at the same time, I think it is still telling that I have a harder time finding misunderstandings about male Bible figures which put them in a negative light. This is not to say that none of the male characters do anything wrong, but simply that when they are noted as doing something wrong…it is in fact actual wrong doing and not a false accusation. And for the few possible exceptions that I have found, they still don’t tend to be as negative.

I’d be interested in hearing feedback or even proof that I am wrong on this. Feel free to post comments about this.

In the mean time, I will at some point in the future talk more about men in the Bible, but for the rest of the week I am going to talk about some applications that our misinterpretations of Bathsheba have for our actions today.