BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Michelle Kallock Knight and Todd Outcalt, pastors of Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg, have written a unique book embracing a female and male perspective in He Said… She Said: Biblical Stories from a Male and Female Perspective.
The book is both creative as well as insightful in viewing the same stories, both from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Knight and Outcalt create a female-male dialogue about eight Hebrew Scripture stories and four New Testament stories familiar to most Christians and share their perspectives from female and male perspectives about the dynamics of the stories. Not surprising, each one comes out with differlying viewpoints as seen from both biblical culture as well as American culture today.
For instance, in the story about Jacob, Leah and Rachel, Knight brings out the competitiveness of women, both then and now, when it comes to gaining the attention of men. On the other hand, Outcalt emphasizes Jacob as a grabber, taking all he can get – not only Leah, but sister Rachel as well as a birthright from his older brother Esau.
The wisdom of the text comes through as both authors speak to the competitive, take-all-I-can-get nature of 21st century American culture and assure the reader, that we don’t experience good news in our grabbing, but in our unconditional giving.
A story from the New Testament about Rhoda, a servant girl, and Peter, the leader of the early church, are characters juxtaposed by their maleness and femaleness, their age and their position in the social fabric of the church. The story is punctuated by hospitality – Peter living in the home of a Christian family – and humor – Rhoda, in her excitement in seeing Peter – slamming the door in Peter’s face. Both authors speak to the unevenness of the role of women in Christian society and how the New Testament begins to address the equality of males and females both in biblical and present times.
The book enlightens the reader in the consideration that we, as males and females, may very well approach Scripture and hear the good news of Scripture differently. That’s neither good nor bad, but a reality that must be considered and a reality that can add to the richness of the Bible’s message even centuries after it was written.
As the cover affirms, He Said… She Said presents a unique blend of thought and commentary on relationships, marriage, parenting, work and aging written from the vantage points of both male and female. The book also includes engaging questions that can assist discussion group leaders to extend dialogue beyond the book into gender viewpoints of groups as they consider the male and female sides of biblical stories.
One item lacking in the book is a preface, informing readers how and why the book came into being. Together interviewed Outcalt and Knight to get their take on the book.
According to Knight, it came into being during lunch one day when Outcalt suggested over sushi doing a book together. Knight passed on sushi and ate chicken instead.
Both have worked as a clergy team at Calvary for nine years, but have never teamed on a book. Outcalt has written more than 20 books with various publishers.
Knight said, “We had conversation back and forth about the idea and then our editor at Chalice Press had several great suggestions for the format.”
Outcalt responded, “I also had noted that there wasn’t much out there exploring the Bible from the vantage point of gender. Do men and women read the Bible differently? And I thought it would be helpful to explore this idea and, well, what better way than to work with my good friend and colleague Michelle. Being the pastors at Calvary, I thought others might also appreciate a closer look at how pastors go about reading the Bible and sharing insights with a congregation.”
Knight added, “Last autumn we re-formatted three of our chapters into dialogue sermons which was a hoot for us. I mentioned to our congregation that if they expected to hear an argument or a battle between the sexes, then they would be disappointed. We do disagree every now and then.”
She continued, “We do ministry based on our strengths and not necessarily on traditional gender roles. And we talk a lot with each other, which also matches the back and forth nature of the book. Communication is so very important in ministry, within the family, and at work or school.”
Both authors expressed that their hope was to share the Scriptures in a fun and lively way. “Several of our Sunday school classes have been using the book and they too are having dialogue with the sacred text, among themselves and also, with the living Presence of God in Christ. And that is our goal… to get folks praying, talking and sharing with our Living God,” said Knight.
He Said… She Said may be one of a series. Knight told Together, “Mostly we choose for this first book men and women who were in relationship with one another, such as siblings, married couples and folks in shared ministry. The most creative example of our choice was to do the lovers in the Song of Solomon, songs chapter.” They both hope Chalice Press gives its nod to two more books in the series.
Outcalt concluded by saying, “We have an idea for a heroes/heroines of the Bible book, and another book along the same vein as this first one… I also think our ministry at Calvary is a complementary one… We have differing gifts, which is a gift to Calvary, and I think we work well together.”
For more information about He Said… She Said or to order copies of the book in print or electronic publication, visit chalicepress.com online and search title.
“Communication is so very important in ministry, within the family, and at work or school.”
– Michelle Kallock Knight