“A lot of people thought they were completely outdated with no relevance to today’s values of equality,” the 33-year-old told AFP, standing under the towering sculptures of Jean Calvin and other Protestant founders on the University of Geneva campus.
In a bid to counter such notions, Savoy and Parmentier, 57, joined forces with 18 other woman theologians from a range of countries and Christian denominations.
The scholars have created a collection of texts challenging traditional interpretations of Bible scriptures that cast women characters as weak and subordinate to the men around them.
Parmentier points to a passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus visits two sisters, Martha and Mary.
“It says that Martha ensures the “service”, which has been interpreted to mean that she served the food, but the Greek word diakonia can also have other meanings, for instance it could mean she was a deacon,” she pointed out.
Overturning religious orthodoxy
They are not the first to provide a more women-friendly reading of the scriptures.
Already back in 1898, American suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 other women drafted “The Woman’s Bible”, aimed at overturning religious orthodoxy that women should be subservient to men.
The two Geneva theology professors say they were inspired by that work, and had initially planned to simply translate it to French.