Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D.

Feb 6, 2022    Sara Wolbrecht

February is Black History Month. And it’s an important for us to keep learning Black history, because Black history is all of our history, and has been largely silenced.

The efforts of Black changemakers, past and present, to keep the lives, the experiences, the history of Black people front and center – amid the systemic racism in our country – are feats to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Celebrated and built upon. We want to keep building on that centering work. Which is why each Sunday this month, we’ll celebrate Black History – as our history – by celebrating past and current Black change-makers who have impacted the church. So it’s a special segment of This Is Good, we’re doing Black (Church) History Month, celebrating a few of the good, good Black folks who have, who are, living this life of Jesus in profound ways that have formed the church.

For our first, I’d like to introduce you to the Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. If you don't yet know Rev Gafney, she's a well know biblical scholar, Episcopal Priest, and Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity. She's also the author of several books, including ‘Womanist Midrash’ & ‘Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel’.

Rev Gafney is a womanist, which means her teaching, writing and speaking offer a language and interpretation that attends to marginalized characters in biblical narratives, especially women and girls, intentionally including and centering on non-Israelite peoples and enslaved persons. How different a perspective we get on a biblical text when we see it from the position of the marginalized, yes?

We know that our language about God matters. Reverend Gaffney knows this, and as a scholar in Hebrew and Greek, the languages of the Bible, she teaches that often the feminine aspects of the Divine were repressed in the translations, but in the very grammar of the original languages, God is also our Mother and She. Feminine language and metaphors for God appear often in the Bible when we actually look at the original languages.

Rev Gaffney is also featured for the month of February in the Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints 2022 wall calendar. Where they offer Rev Gafney’s translation of Job 33:4: The spirit of God, she has made me, and the breath of the nursing God, she gives me life

And I’ll leave you with this final quote from Rev Gafney’s book: Womanist Midrash:

“No matter how misogynistic, how heavily redacted, how death-dealing, how troubled, troubling, or troublesome the text, womanists who teach and preach in the black church do not throw the whole androcentric text with its patriarchal and kyriarchal lowlights out of our stained-glass windows because of its Iron Age theology. We wrestle with it because it has been received as Scripture. Our wrestling should not be taken to mean that we affirm texts that do not affirm us.” - Womanist Midrash, Rev Wil Gafney

Find Rev Wil Gafney, on Twitter (@wilgafney) or check out her website ( and please purchase her books

We say This Is Good, and thanks be to God, for our Black sister in Christ, Rev Wil Gafney.