Faithfully retelling our stories: how faith, culture and context impact women’s life stories

Clelland, Leanne Cathcart (2021) Faithfully retelling our stories: how faith, culture and context impact women’s life stories. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the layers of story hidden within the Book of Ruth, the character of Naomi and the application of that multi-faceted story to the faith development of women today. Rigorous research points towards an innovative response, disrupting the traditional methodological approaches to research. The contextualisation and feminisation of the story is expressed through life writing and revisioning.

Section one considers the reasons for and the opportunities provided by absences in the biblical narrative. Absences within biblical texts often restrict our understanding of the female protagonists. However, rather than resigning ourselves to the fear that Old Testament women fall through these gaps, I argue that the absences allow us to reimagine these characters and to begin to understand our shared humanity. Section two equips the reader with the tools with which to reimagine the context of the Book of Ruth. I peer into exegesis of the Hebrew text and midrash and I dig into biblical archaeology to uncover the importance of ritual as a means of integrating faith into daily life. This section also analyses the methods through which this research is subsequently transformed into a reimagined and engaging narrative.

Section three responds creatively and autoethnographically to the research gathered in the preceding sections. This imaginative response interweaves two styles of writing. The revisioned story of Naomi is interspersed with autobiographical episodes which focus on bereavement, loss of faith and the importance of community.

The iterative nature of the study has allowed me space to trial sections of the research and writing with various audiences. Section four explores the importance of foregrounding biblical women’s stories. By excavating characters which are more than metaphor, we find protagonists from whom we can learn important lessons about the journey of faith. This section also evaluates how this research and creative response has been received among academic and faith communities and what more could be done to bring the character of Naomi to life.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Spiro, Dr. Mia
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82548
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2021 13:46
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2021 10:26
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82548
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82548

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