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Cunning Wisdom: Hebrew Midwives and Other Examples of the Trickster Spirit in Biblical Narrative


 The Bible is filled with characters who employ clever misdirection and deception to subvert power and expectations. These archetypal “tricksters,” present in many mythic stories, are richly present in biblical narratives.  Hermes, the Greek mythic character who is both trickster and divine messenger, lives on in hermeneutics, a traditional word for biblical interpretation.

Beginning with Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who tricked Pharaoh to save children, this Jewish-Christian conversation (with Rev. John Marboe and Rabbi Alan Shavit-Lonstein) will explore this vitally important, fascinating and under-appreciated theme in our shared and distinct traditions. Using Rabbinic midrashim or commentary and the parables of Jesus that reflect and value this aspect of human-divine dealings, we will tangle with the problems and possibilities these crafty characters pose to how we understand the Bible, God’s will, and how to live.