Casting Biblical narratives: Gendered power hierarchies and cultural imagination in scandinavian children’s bibles

New article by Ingunn Aadland in Studia theologica.

Children’s bibles present a selection of Biblical stories, as the Bible, through text and illustrations – in the guise of fun, teaching, and moral warning. In this, they reflect the conviction that the Bible is essential, useful, and even entertaining. At the same time, cultural imagination continuously gives shape to Biblical stories. In this way, the children’s Bible is a materialisation of the valuation and cultural memory of the Bible – and in this way it makes sense to call it a cultural bible. This article examines the Danish bestseller Møllehave’s Børnebibelen (1996/2016), and two Norwegian books: Bibelfortellinger (2011) and Tidslinjen (2016) with particular regard to gendered power structures. How are women cast in the current Scandinavian cultural bible? There are common tendencies in the ways in which cultural memory casts Biblical women: Women are deemed less important than their male counterparts, they are easily associated with sexual misconduct, and they tend to be discredited in various ways. Representation relies upon cultural assumptions. Ultimately, the cultural Bible produces docile bodies. It puts the Biblical woman in her place, and she becomes a reduced other.