I am pleased that the lead article in this issue is about Bathsheba. Why? Because Priscilla Papers has never published an article about her. To be sure, she has been mentioned here and there. And CBE has stood up for Bathsheba in its other publications (see, for example, “A Tale of Two Rapes: What Tamar and Bathsheba Teach Us About Power, Consent, and Sexual Violence,” an award-winning article by Erin Moniz in the summer 2019 issue of Mutuality). Nevertheless, “Vindicating Bathsheba,” by Amanda Pence, fills a gap in the Priscilla Papers index. I don’t point this out as a criticism—after all, I’ve been choosing those articles for over eight years. And I don’t mean to chastise earlier editors and authors. Who could have foreseen that, as complementarians and egalitarians developed and defended their positions over the last few decades, a battle line would be drawn between whether David and Bathsheba sinned together (the view of many complementarians) or David sinned against Bathsheba (the view of most egalitarians)?
Amanda, in her article beginning on the facing page, ably adds her voice to others who have spoken out for Bathsheba. I’ll list a few of those others below.
- A. A. Anderson, 2 Samuel (Word, 1989), 153: “There is no real reason to assume that Bathsheba actually intended to be seen by the king.”
- Sarah Bowler, “Bathsheba: Vixen or Victim?,” ch. 4 in Vindicating the Vixens, ed. Sandra Glahn (Kregel, 2017), 100: “We ought to call the situation what it is: rape of a subordinate by a man in power.”
- Philip Esler, Sex, Wives, and Warriors (Cascade, 2011), 314: “The emphasis is upon David as the agent. . . .”
- Sheila Wray Gregoire, “David Raped Bathsheba: Why It’s Important that We Allow for This Interpretation“: “It’s not an ‘inappropriate relationship’, it’s not ‘having sex’, it’s not ‘having an affair’, it’s not ‘sleeping with’ when there is power involved.”
- Carmen Imes, “Blame David, Not Bathsheba. The Prophet Nathan Did,” Christianity Today (July 18, 2022): “In the Book of Samuel, three key voices say he’s the guilty one, not her.”
- Jeff Miller, “‘He will Take’: David and Bathsheba,” CBE’s blog (Dec 2, 2015): “It was a sin of power, committed by David against—not with—Bathsheba.”
- Marg Mowczko, “A Sympathetic Look at Bathsheba“: “There is not the slightest hint of impropriety or guilt on Bathsheba’s part. . . . David alone is held accountable.”
- Kylie Maddox Pidgeon, “Complementarianism and Domestic Abuse,” ch. 28 in Discovering Biblical Equality, 3rd ed. (IVP, 2021), 581: David “abused Bathsheba by taking her for himself, most likely raping her. . . .”
- Cara Quinn, “Bathsheba: Study Guide“: “Bathsheba . . . was spied on by King David. . . . She was taken by David’s messengers and forced into sexual relations with him.”
- Christine Woolgar, “Accountability, Abuse, and Awareness”: David “abused his position to have sex with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah by proxy. . . .”
Though Amanda’s article has prompted this editorial, all the items in the following pages are high-quality and worthy of your careful consideration. Furthermore, all the articles were written by graduate students, hence the theme of the issue, “Student Scholarship.”