Original Research

Gender balance: A new lens for reading and studying the Bible, Part 1

Robin G. Branch
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a2978 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.2978 | © 2024 Robin Gallaher Branch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 April 2023 | Published: 04 March 2024

About the author(s)

Robin G. Branch, Department of Religion and Theology, Faculty of Religion, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America; and Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


This two-article submission suggests a new lens through which to read and study the Bible. This lens generates new perspectives for teaching, preaching, and writing about the Bible. Called gender balance, the lens applies to both the Old and New Testament.

Gender balance not only is simple, but also is in plain sight. If there is a story, passage, theme, or text about a man, look for a similar one about a woman; if there is a story, passage, theme, or text about a woman, look for a similar one about a man. The accounts often not only complement each other, but also provide additional details and insights.

Combining canonical and literary methodologies, these two articles acknowledge the preponderance of biblical references to men. However, they show that a similar reference to a woman can usually be found quickly.

Given that these two articles represent a survey with examples, an extensive exegesis is not provided. Comments on each gender balance entry are brief and framed in supplemental scholarship. The examples incorporate a conscious choice of looking for a similar story, passage, theme, or text about the opposite gender. The examples illustrate the premise that gender balance is clearly within the Scriptures.

While a new way, a new lens of looking at the Bible, is presented, the first article supplies an extensive literature review showing it is a new idea. It then proceeds with examples of gender balance from the Old Testament and ends with a short conclusion and a bibliography. The second article contains New Testament examples of gender balance, a longer conclusion, and a bibliography.

Contribution: The concept of looking at the Bible through a new lens – that of gender balance – may be both revolutionary and revitalising. It may be a tool for evangelism (for it consciously seeks to show stories about men and women); it may prove a more effective way to teach, preach, study, and write about the Bible (for it seeks complementary passages for both genders). These articles – by illustrating the concept through literary tools such as round and flat characterisation and literary categories such as epic tale – offer more ways to address the Bible’s wonderful diversity. These two articles advocate making gender balance a standard practice in reading the Bible. They illustrate that the lens of gender balance offers new perspectives and insights on the Bible. After all, it is in plain sight! Gender balance affirms the Bible’s glorious, wide-armed, concluding invitation to all – Jew or Greek, slave or free, rich or poor, male or female – ‘Come’ (Rv 22:17a).


gender balance; literary methodology; canonical approach; Old Testament; New Testament

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 5: Gender equality


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