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Non-Fiction by Lofts > Women in the Old Testament

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 02, 2009 02:31PM) (new)

I just got this book on interlibrary loan. Its too bad Barbara is gone just when I finally got it as I know she is reading it too. Hopefully we can discuss it more when she gets back. I have to read it fast and be very careful with it. Its dedicated to her husband Geoffrey Lofts 1905 - 1948. I never knew his name so glad to read this information.

message 2: by Sallie (new)

Sallie | 307 comments Oh, my! Didn't know she had 2 husbands! When we visited (1973/4) her we met her current one - Robert - a PHD agronomist. This is one book I've never read and, frankly, never heard of. I don't even remember seeing it listed in any of her "also by NL" info. I thought I'd read everything but nope!

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

This one seems to be very obscure but you can get it on interlibrary loan which is how I got a copy. I am just reading about Sarah and Hagar. I of course formed my opinions about those two long ago and NL sees Sarah is a much better light than I ever did. I saw her as being vicious to Hagar and I still think the same. Hagar ran away into the desert and an angel went to her and told her she must return and be submissive. I wonder why the angel didn't speak to Sarah? Its all very hard for me to understand but NL has a much kinder feeling about Sarah than I ever did.
NL says here that the same angels who spoke to Hagar also later warned of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It would probably have saved the world a ton of trouble if poor Hagar has stayed in the desert and died along with her unborn baby.
Thanks for this information that she did remarry. After all if her first husband died in 1948 then he was very young and NL was possibly much younger. I have calculated how old she was when he died.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Sallie wrote: "Oh, my! Didn't know she had 2 husbands! When we visited (1973/4) her we met her current one - Robert - a PHD agronomist. This is one book I've never read and, frankly, never heard of. I don't ev..."

I just googled NL again to look at her birthday and it was 27 August 1904 so she was one year older than Geoffrey when he died.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Mandranke root? I was just reading in this book that Leah's son brought mandrake root to her which she used to increase her fertility. I have never read this anywhere before in my life, has anyone else ever read this?
The only other place I ever read about mandrake root was in Harry Potter and maybe in a book I had which had some info about ginseng. I am thinking about a NE Quiz question about this. Isn't it the weirdest? Well, at least I am no longer bored with this book!!!

message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments The incident Lofts is referring to is recorded in Gen. 30:14-18. When Leah's son brought her some mandrake plants he'd found, her sister Rachel asked for some. Leah was unwilling to share at first; so in exchange, Rachel offered a night with Jacob (to whom they were both married --apparently they took turns with him, and it wouldn't normally have been Leah's turn). Although Leah conceived a child that night, the Biblical writer doesn't ascribe her fertility to the mandrakes. But, as Sir James Frazer notes in Folklore in the Old Testament, it was widely believed in ancient times that mandrakes had such an effect. Probably both Rachel and Leah believed that they did, which explains why both of them wanted the plants so badly.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Werner wrote: "The incident Lofts is referring to is recorded in Gen. 30:14-18. When Leah's son brought her some mandrake plants he'd found, her sister Rachel asked for some. Leah was unwilling to share at firs..."

Thanks Werner. We were in a motel room last night as our well went out so I read this in a Gideon's Bible placed there. I have read this before but just read over the mandrakes somehow. This was sure a surprise for me. Now NL book is much more interesting to me.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I had to take this book back to the library today unfinished which is a first. This is quite a surprise to me to get a NL book and not be able to finish reading it! I usually read her books very fast. It was on interlibrary loan so had to go back to Denver.

message 9: by Barbara (last edited Oct 02, 2009 10:02PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments Sorry to hear you had to return it Alice - it's is not like her novels sof course- yet on some ways you can see the novelist it in her. As in her her non-fiction I think
I really like her affectionate and almost domestic take on the NT women,and most of all her reading of Naomi and Ruth, I hope you go to them at least Alice. What did you think of it Werner?

I had to buy it Sallie, new at that too!

message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 02, 2009 10:05PM) (new)

Barbara wrote: "Sorry to hear you had to return it Alice - it's is not like her novels sof course- yet on some ways you can see the novelist it in her. As in her her non-fiction I think
I really like her af..."

Yes, I did and wanted to read about Jezebel but I had to quit after Michal. She had some good insights but it just didn't hold my attention. I did write down 3 questions for the neverending quiz but have misplaced them for the moment.

message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments Barbara, I've never actually read Women in the Old Testament. In commenting above, I was just going by my knowledge of the Old Testament --I knew that, if she mentioned mandrakes in connection with Rachel and Leah, that had to be the passage she was writing about. :-)

message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments Hi Werner, how are you going ?

Do read NL's Women In the OT if you can, I would be very interested in your response to it.

message 13: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments Barbara, I'm doing just fine, and hope you are, too! We're all glad to have you back from your recent trip to England, and trust you had a great time there.

Well (since a gentleman should always do a favor for a lady, if it's within reason :-)), I'll add Women in the Old Testament to my gargantuan to-read shelf. (I'm curious about it myself! :-)) It'll probably be some time next year before I get around to it, though.

message 14: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments Why thank, you Werner. Glad to hear all is well with you. I had a wonderful trip thank you

message 15: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments Last week, I finished reading Women in the Old Testament. For those interested, here's the link to my Goodreads review of the book: . That gives my reactions in more detail; but I can say that I basically liked the book (while recognizing that at this late date, really reconstructing the individual psychology of these women is a very tall order!).

message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments Just been to your main review Werner and enjoyed it very much , thank you . I did especially like your caution on

"Arguments from silence are particularly dangerous; that words or feelings aren't mentioned is no proof that they weren't said or felt"

(Whilst still forgiving NL everything of course !)

It was particularly apposite to me as I am reading a couple of Alison Weir's biographies of , repectively, Elizabeth 1 and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Since there exists a good deal of what Elizabeath actually said and wrote , Weir doesn't do much 'arguing from silence' Of necessity she does more for Eleanor,and I don't like it, especially where it conflicts with my own pre-conceived notions!

Thanks again for the great review

message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments Thanks, Barbara! I enjoyed the book, and it gave me more of a window into Lofts' spiritual thought, which I appreciated; so I'm glad you recommended it. :-)

message 18: by Werner (new)

Werner | 684 comments The question came up on another thread --mostly because of the listing of this book, on another site, with NL's "Novels" rather than her "Nonfiction" (though I think in that case, it was simply a typo)-- as to whether we could consider this a work of fiction. Sherry made the point that very little in the way of solid biographical details about any of these women is really known, so a book like this necessarily involves a good deal of imaginative reconstruction (much as fiction does). This illustrates the fact that the line between fiction and nonfiction isn't so impregnable as we sometimes think; one of my Goodreads friends separates his books into those two categories, but admits that he sometimes has trouble deciding which is which!

Being a librarian (and public libraries usually make the same basic organizational distinction in their books that my friend does), I tend to look at this in librarian's terms, where the intention of the author is the key. Both Lofts here and, say, Anita Diamant in The Red Tent use their imaginations to make educated guesses as to what the lives of Biblical women were like; but the latter uses hers only in an effort to determine what the actual historical reality was like, so the scope of her reconstruction is limited to what she has evidence for and somewhat constrained by her strictly nonfiction goal. A historical novelist like Diamant, on the other hand, is openly using the historical facts as a foundation to construct her own imaginative story, with no claim that it actually happened that way. So, IMO, there's enough difference in the intent of what the two writers are doing to classify their work differently --but the two enterprises do have a degree of methodological affinity. (And Lofts' own background as a historical novelist undoubtedly helped her in the use of historical imagination!)

message 19: by Barbara (last edited Dec 04, 2010 03:01PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments Yes, the distinction as above makes sense and is perhaps what we intutively do anyway , so good to know its a 'real' library style distinction! I do agree though, that in the case of 'historicised fiction' or 'fictionalised history' the boundaries are blurred. "Nowt wrong wi' that" as they /we say Up North in England !

Norah L was clear in the foreword, as I remember that she had perforce to contruct a great deal, particularly for the really less well known ones.

I guess if she was writing about say, Caroline of Brunswick or Richard Coeur de Lion I would have unhesitatingly called it fiction (ie fictionalised history) but because it was the Bible I took the non-fiction route. Odd really because I am not a practising believer and the Bible to me is one of several religious texts I have studied , rather than a sacred text to be followed. I guess my good C of E upbringing runs deeper than I realised!

message 20: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Part of the distinction for me is to remember that the Bible is divinely inspired, rather than divinely dictated. It really cannot be anything more than the interpretation of the people who wrote it.

message 21: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments I think you will love Women in the OT Sherry, I particularly liked the Ruth and Naomi story , it gave a whole new impetus to the beautiful "Whither thou goest" lines . So moving.

And I do take your point about the distinction btweeen inspiration vs dictation.I would imagine VNL was of the inspiration mode , and that's what enabled her to do Esther and Vashti and the WIOT so well .

message 22: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments I will look forward to reading it. Looks like we are of like mind, Barbara.

message 23: by Barbara (last edited Dec 04, 2010 09:40PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments I just found the whole "whither thou goest' quote . (on the Esther thread)

"Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God; where you die I will die and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you"

I then wrote ( please forgive repetition ) 'What a great novel she could make of it. I know I had only the 'child's' version of the story in my head, Ruth gleaning and so forth - I had no idea Naomi sent her to Boaz's bed in the hope he would desire and marry her. Which he did of course - and when she had her first child the women laid it in Naomi's arms saying

"a son has been born to Naomi...for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him"

message 24: by Sherry (new)

Sherry | 122 comments Thank you for providing this, Barbara.

message 25: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 704 comments I haven't read Women of the Old Testament, but for a long time I've seen the story of Ruth and Boaz as a romantic comedy, with Naomi as a match-making mama. Naomi evidently knew that it would be the duty of their late husbands' male next of kin to marry Ruth and "raise up seed to [Elimelcch and his sons'] stock," and she also evidently didn't want that relative who was somehow more closely related than Boaz to be the father of her "grandchildren." So she sent Ruth out to glean in Boaz's field so that he would see how beautiful and dutiful she was, and when Ruth came home that first day with her arms full ("Mama, you didn't tell me it would be this easy!"), Naomi's heart must have leapt to see that Boaz had risen to the bait. Then when the last of the harvest was gathered in and he hadn't made another move, can't you imagine Naomi saying to herself, "Oy! Some men you have to light a fire under!"? So she sent Ruth to crawl under the blanket with Boaz. Now, when he woke up to find Ruth there and she said her piece, can't you see the light coming on over his head as he realized, "Of course! That's what I need to do!" Then imagine Naomi's friends laughing fondly when Obed was born. Is there any doubt whom that child grew up calling "Grandma"?

As for Leah and Rachel and the mandrakes, it never occurred to me that Leah needed them. She had already had several sons, and I got the idea that Jacob had stopped sleeping with her. So Leah was fertile but Rachel had the man. All Leah seems to have needed was a night with Jacob, so the night bought with some mandrakes was a win-win situation--both sisters conceived. BTW, Werner mentioned The Red Tent. I liked the depiction of Leah in that.

Also especially liked NL's depiction of Vashti in Esther, particularly the episode where one of her former husband's messengers passed her jogging along on the mule, shabby and nondescript and ecstatic about the prospect of going HOME! Surely she later married the boldest and handsomest of her father's warriors/courtiers/drinking buddies, and the old man gave them the mule as part of her dowry.

I'd better look for that book! It sounds like a great companion to THE Book!

message 26: by Barbara (last edited Dec 05, 2010 04:41PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 2110 comments You did make me laugh with your versions of Ruth and Naomi Mary , I have a simialr take on the Lilith story which I have always found so proundly misogynist I needed to lighten it up/re-envision to bear it !

Yes, I always thought Vashti would do well for herself when she got home, a nice lusty and handsome man who would love her to bits

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