“Mary Baker Eddy: Liberating Interpreter of the Pauline Corpus” in Strangely Familiar: Protofeminist Interpretations of Patriarchal Biblical Texts
Huff, Barry. “Mary Baker Eddy: Liberating Interpreter of the Pauline Corpus,” Pages 245–58 in Strangely Familiar: Protofeminist Interpretations of Patriarchal Biblical Texts. Edited by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis and Heather E. Weir. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.
In the late 19th-century era, when the Pauline corpus was often quoted to legitimize women’s subordination, Mary Baker Eddy presented in her writings a rereading of the Pauline tradition as liberating for women. Huff considers “how the struggles that Eddy faced in her personal and public life informed her biblical interpretation and how this interpretation in turn empowered her to work for equality and healing in her relationships, ministry, and the church that she founded” (247). Huff focuses on how Eddy did not give voice to the patriarchal passages found in the deutero-Pauline (Ephesians’ ‘household codes’) and Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 2:13), and prioritized such counter texts as 1 Cor. 7 on marriage and Gal. 3:28 on egalitarian rights, grounding her views in Gen. 1:27 where God creates “male and female” in the image of God. Huff notes the predominantly male clergy’s unrelenting resistance and vilification of Eddy’s roles as religious leader and public speaker, and quotes scholar Ann Braude who observes that Eddy would ultimately reject “the idea of an ordained clergy, thus undercutting the traditional source of legitimation for the exclusivity of male religious leadership” (Braude, 1993, 56, 251). Huff shows how Eddy made the case (and modeled in her life) “that women as well as men have dominion and must not be dominated” (257). A response to Huff can be found in the same book: Hogan (259).
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-1589834538
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-9004177932