Reimagined Scripture

Translating What We're Called to Carry

*A version of these re-imagined Scriptures was shared in a March 3, 2019 Women Doing Theology service at Columbus Mennonite Church.

Intro from the author: There are over 20 verses in the Bible that mention childfree women, and most of them—especially those we hear most often from a pulpit— resolve in some sort of miraculous pregnancy. I wonder if we re-imagined some of these verses, could we also nudge the boundaries of what it means to be valued in a body that identifies as female, or to widen our definitions of family?

Here are a few possible examples of these new translation-liberations. I’ve needed to play with these verses in order to keep turning up at church, keep opening the Scriptures, and to keep feeling valued by God and my family. Words and stories equal choices and power, especially when we hear them on repeat. I know these translations don’t erase the original texts--I wouldn’t want them to. But I need to read them aloud, to imagine them spoken from a pulpit as many times as we hear the originals.

Genesis 25:21 (trans. Lachman) And so he prayed to God for his wife, because she was barren. But God was silent. And he prayed to God for his wife again, because she could not have a child, and he could not father a child. And God said, “Come stand by the water with me.” And he prayed in shouts and curses, and finally silence, because he and his wife were still mourning, months turning into half a decade. And God did not grant his prayer, and still loved them both.

Judges 13:3 (trans. Lachman) And the angel appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, there is so much you can grow inside you. Sometimes it looks like a child. Sometimes it looks like a melody. Sometimes it looks like a love whose face you’ve always wanted to recognize. You will not carry a child, but you will carry God’s face in many forms.”

Psalm 113:9 (trans. Lachman) God gives the woman--no matter if she’s a mother or wife or not--a home and hollow to rock her sorrows and joys together. No need for diagnosis, no need for tearing clothes and breaking the best pottery in grief. “Woman,” hear the Spirit proclaiming, “you are already whole to me. Go out and live in this blessing.”

About the Author

Becca J.R. Lachman

Becca J.R. Lachman works in the magical world of public libraries and is a writer, educator, and singer-songwriter living in Appalachian Ohio. Editor of A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, she's also the author of two poetry collections: Other Acreage, an ode-elegy to her family's 1840s dairy farm, and The Apple Speaks, which explores being a wife/daughter of loved ones doing nonviolent peace work in war-torn places. Recent poems and essays appear in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Consequence Magazine, Image, and Sweet Lit.