Vanessa Ochs has written a lovely book in which she fleshes out the stories of Old Testament women - stories that, very often, are short on detail and leave us with more questions than answers. In the process of filling in the gaps with imaginative and meditative narratives, Ochs supplies ideas on how modern women may use the lessons of our Old Testament forebearers to ease our souls, bodies and minds.
The book is divided into six sections, each addressing one aspect of modern womanhood - Being a Friend, Being a Parent, Living in a Woman's Body, and so on. Each section contains several chapters, each of which focuses on a single biblical woman. The opening chapter, in a section entitled Being Wise, focuses on Eve. The imaginative retelling of Eve's story (from Eve's perspective) following a modern-English version of a portion of the bible dealing with Eve, puts an interesting spin on the story and adds layers to what we assume we understood about the oft-blamed and misunderstood woman. A short essay (I'm tempted to call it a sermon) suggests ways in which we may hear echoes of Eve's story in our own lives - the ways in which we are misunderstood and blamed for the consequences of being too inquisitive, too adventurous and ignoring our own developing wisdom. Finally, we are invited to "Embrace the Gift of Eve" and Ochs offers suggestions for making the most of our abilities to explore and learn under our own volition and without apology. She recommends additional readings, rituals and even a recipe for apple cake to celebrate our existence as learning beings.
Other biblical woman receive similar nuanced tratement. Miriam, "The [Unnamed] Woman of Valor", Esther, the titular Sarah and even Job's wife are among those whose stories gain new relevance and interest under Och's able scholarship. No longer do women seem to hold a lesser place in the bible for Ochs fills in the blanks in their narratives and offers us valuable lessons for today and helps us learn their lessons - not just with our eyes and ears, but with our hearts.