Scholarship on the Israelite prophets often focuses primarily on those fifteen prophets with literary works attributed to them. That scholarship follows the contours of the Hebrew biblical canon in marginalizing the bulk of prophets in the canon. In this course we will study prophecy in ancient Israel focusing primarily on those neglected prophets. Their narratives support and enrich the narratives of more dominant characters. Better-known prophets such as Miriam and Nathan, Elijah and Elisha will be studied along with lesser-known prophets such as the woman with whom Isaiah fathered a child and Zedekiah ben Chenaanah. We will focus on the women prophets in particular.
There are untold numbers of female prophets hiding in the masculine grammar and androcentric focus of the Hebrew Scriptures. There are women-prophets in the communities around biblical Israel, existing for hundreds of years and even a thousand years before the Israelite and Judean prophets recorded their messages. The rabbinic and Christian fathers analyzed and found more women in the scriptures who function as prophets than the biblical authors identify. All of these female prophets have an intimate connection with the God of Israel; they express that connection by singing, dancing, drumming, speaking with and for God, waging war, performing miracles, exercising statecraft, and giving birth. Each of them is a daughter of Miriam, the mother of all women-prophets.
The Rev. Wilda Gafney, Ph.D. is a scholar, pastor, preacher and activist. She received her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Duke University in 2006 and is a Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of: A Woman's Lectionary for the Whole Church: Year W. (2021) that covers all four gospels, and A Woman's Lectionary for the Whole Church: Year A. (2021). When completed, A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, will be a three-year lectionary. Other books by Dr. Gafney include: Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel; Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to Women of the Torah and of the Throne; Wisdom Commentary: Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah; she is a co-editor of The Peoples’ Bible and The Peoples’ Companion to the Bible.
Dr. Gafney is an Episcopal priest and a former member of the Dorshei Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Center in Philadelphia, she has co-taught courses with and for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Seminary in Wyncote, PA.