OUT OF 1,426 names in the Bible, 1,315 are male and only 111 are female.

According to Sister Judette Gallares, a member of the Cenacle of the Philippines, the figures illustrate that women in the biblical period were less regarded in a very patriarchal society. Thus, there will be a problem if the Bible will be used as a source for women’s perspectives, she said in a seminar conducted by the Sister’s Institute for Theological Formation at the Aula Magna, Faculty of Sacred Theology last July 23.

Gallares said the Bible, as a whole, is androcentric or male-centered in its subject matter. Not only are individual women largely ignored, women’s issues are almost insignificant.

The Hebrew Bible’s focus is on the public and communal life of the people dominated by men. And as a formal text, the Bible raises the problem between recent and ethnographic research: a gap between what the documents depict and what happened in real life.

Gallares cited the example of the biblical character Abigail in the first book of Samuel. In the biblical account, “Abigail quickly gathered two hundred loaves of bread, two leather bags full of wine, five roasted sheeps, two bushels of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins, and two hundred cakes of dried figs, and loaded them on the donkeys (1 Samuel 25:18).”

“It seemed almost impossible for a woman, even if she was assisted by a few servants, to accomplish the task in such a short time. Abigail’s story was chronicled in the Bible only because it was extraordinary,” Gallares said.

“From the context of today’s women in their perspective of the scripture, there is a particular bias based on their experiences, in a sense that there is an ongoing transfer of content which embodied the enduring message of God from one generation to another,” she explained.

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Although the scriptures had been retold several times and certain embellishments were added, Gallares stressed that the message of God endures.

“In reading the scriptures, we go through a process of discerning what is God’s enduring message to where we are now. Scientific explanations should not merge with faith because the message that the scriptures impart will be lost,” she added. Anna Rachelle S. Ariola

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