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The Hero and the Whore

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Member Reviews

I'm really torn on this book. On the one hand, Hernandez has some really interesting insights into faith, misogyny, and racism within the church. Some of her theories are interesting and plausible as a read-between-the-lines interpretation of biblical events. On the other hand, she presents these ideas as facts without any biblical reference to back her up. She has written a very interesting biography of her experience with the church, and coupled it with some interesting theology, but unfortunately many of the people who would benefit from her takes are not going to look past the fact that she's present theory as fact without the research to support it.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC

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In The Hero And The Whore by Camille Hernandez my understanding was that Miss Fernandez was going to explain how we can find healing from the sexual exploitation stories in the Bible… Which not gonna lie blew my mind because I didn’t read the Bible with things like that in mind but having said that I was sadly disabused of that summary this book is mainly a memoir with different stories of the Bible that I didn’t even understand how they correlate to her personal stories, not only that it started with her mocking a man crying over his love for Jesus but because he was white and part of the patriarchy and the head of a workshop she didn’t find helpful she starts the book by mocking him. She also disagrees that Cane‘s blood wasn’t the first one spilled because the first blood spilled is the birth she doesn’t say of Jesus Christ so I’m not sure what birth she is speaking of but since we are discussing the Bible I chose to believe it was his birth and she talks about how in the Bible ministration was a filthy thing but like my favorite poet Maya Angelou says when we know better we do better that was 2000 years ago and I think we’ve moved on from that opinion every chance she got she talked about white people and the ignorant questions they would ask her and her brother or tell her that they spoke so well and she blames I DK society or racism yet loves to use the word colonization, White heterosexual cis male etc. but yet she excuses her daddy for mental and verbal abuse because that’s how he was raised. So don’t blame him for not teaching his self a better way to talk to his children but let’s blame everyone else for the way they are.. I was so excited to read this book but sadly I am so over people digging up bones from the past to prove racism existed and that they are a victim with no conclusion as to how we can fix the problem and now we’re digging up biblical bones. historically racism was a horrible thing females were treated terribly in slavery is a sin and a scar on this country that seems is never going to heal and I agree with all of that I think had the book been written without all the name calling because there is more than one way to point out an undesirable person but to mock and name call says more about the one mocking and name-calling than it does about the person they’re talking about. I think a better and healthier view point is to look inside our self because gaining your self-worth from those you clearly have no respect for can only be a negative thing. There was so much more I wanted to say I wish the author nothing but the best because it sounds like she walks the earth with a lot of pent-up hatred and that just makes me feel bad for her. I just want to add in a lot of books about racism and or women’s culture I hear a lot of minorities talk about how white people ask to touch their hair and they comment on the verbal ability and I’ve never seen that happen but if it does… I mean how awkward is that and I believe that happens because I am blind and people have asked me the dumbest questions but I always try to keep in mind most people aren’t coming from a bad place and you should take those moments to teach them that that is rude instead of taking the experience as another racist story you can share with your friends because it’s not always racism that provokes the situation. I want to thank the author the publisher and NetGalley for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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This is not a book I would typically read but the title just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The author does an amazing job of giving a different perspective on women of the Bible and some of these women you aren’t ever even taught about in the Christian church. It was very eye opening and a book you need to take a little slower and study on.

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The Hero and the Whore: Reclaiming Healing and Liberation Through Stories of Sexual Exploitation in the Bible by Camille Hernandez is a bold and powerful womanist examination at how we can begin to look at the Scriptures contextually considering the vast and often overwhelming traumas that affect us, in the case of this book from the experience of a Black Filipina woman. I had expected this book to perhaps be a systematic approach to trauma informed care from the perspective of these horrific stories of sexual exploitation in the Bible. However, the genre of the book resembled a memoir, instead, in which Hernandez writes admirably and honestly about her experience as a Black Filipina woman in a world of white male dominated power. In each of her chapters she not only shares more of her own story, but also connects it with a woman from the Bible who suffered sexual exploitation. The end result is an engaging, interweaving narrative in which the reader seems to read Hernandez alongside the biblical text as she becomes intimately engaged with the world of the text and the women, she reads herself alongside.
Hernandez should be applauded for her bravery and openness in the honesty and vulnerability in which she writes. As a white cis-gendered heterosexual male in the West I am not directly affected by the problems and concerns that she brings up in her writing. However, my heart broke as I read of the abuses that she faced. Her story is one of resilience and honesty. It brought better to my attention the reality that many people live with. The reality of white supremacy. The horror of the fetishization of women of color. The sexual abuse that is often perpetrated against women of color. Often, I found myself considering what part I could play in attempting to course correct my own deep seated and ingrained preunderstandings as well as participate in needed systemic changes.
However, there is a glaring issue with The Hero and the Whore that makes me unable to recommend it. Although Hernandez does not describe herself as a biblical scholar, by the nature of the work she holds that role, and it is a role she plays poorly. Often, she chooses to place forward minority positions within biblical studies as a fact without providing her audience either resources to verify or argumentation why her position is the correct one when it is by no means the consensus of (admittedly white Western centric) academics. She places forward her deconstructionist and minority interpretations on Scripture as if they are consensus. This is disingenuous and often leads to overreading a text or ignoring key contextual evidence against her reading. Despite the moving aspect of her memoir, her work as a biblical scholar is very poorly researched and for that reason this is a book that does not meaningfully or constructively work with the Bible. As I finished The Hero and Whore, I was left disappointed by such a well-intentioned and honest project that is crippled by poor research quality and seeming willingness to construct the argument solely from opinion as she provides few if any endnotes to support her claims.
I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley, but the opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

This book should be a mandatory read within Biblical studies courses that discuss gender and race relations within the Bible. It is a balm for the wounded soul. Many women of color feel ostracized, demonized and judged within the church. They are taught stories of "loose" women in the Bible from a man's point of view that differs from the original texts.

The author takes a part the stories of eleven women of the Bible whose stories have been preached for millenia. It helps the reader to see them in a different light. I am grateful for this book and author. I look forward to her next offering.

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As someone who grew up in the black church, and currently deconstructing from what I was taught, this book was such a breath of fresh air. I love how it gives a different perspective, This is one of those books that I will have to get a hard copy and actually go through it a little slower and study it (and I rarely re read books). If you are a black/bipoc woman that is trying to understand a great meaning of the bible, this is one of the resources that you will need in your life. Church folks will not like this book, especially those with church brain and are ok with misogyny..

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This book was different than I expected but it was an interesting read. The author looks at 11 women in the bible and really goes through their narrative to show the oppression each of them faced. This book is very much a new perspective and reinterpretation of the women in the bible.

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This is a book that I would not have been ready to read six years ago, though now I found myself wanting to text quotes to my friends. This is a book that will be healing and/or justifying to Christians who are minorities, especially Black and Asian Americans with sexual trauma. This is also a book that a white evangelical who takes the Bible literally will probably DNF after the first chapter (because even from the start, the author talks about Adam and Eve being symbolic). This is a book about reinterpreting women from the Bible and seeing how God can be loving despite these violent stories.

The chapter subjects are Eve, Hagar, Leah and Dinah, Potiphar's Wife, Rahab, Jael, Bathsheba, Hegai and Vashti, Gomer, Salome, and The Woman Caught in Adultery. Even just from the start, I'm so glad to have seen a focus on characters that were largely forgotten in the biblical narrative. I think I've only ever heard sermons about Eve, Potiphar's Wife, Rahab, Bathsheba, and The Woman Caught. The others were people either I read on my own, or they were so briefly mentioned in passing that I'd never thought much deeper.

I know it's the literal book subject, but I loved how Hernandez refocused on the violence done to these women (and one man). I have never heard any of these women described as survivors of sex trafficking, yet that's what many were. Labeling their stories as rape and trafficking not only restore their dignity but also benefit readers who have also experienced sexual violence. I also appreciated that in the Hegai chapter, Hernandez pointed out that he was castrated, but not necessarily asexual. She honors the victims and also recognizes the complicated circumstances when there were no good options.

This is a book that causes you to think deeper and question what would have been forgotten or unknown or deliberately left out by the male writers. I appreciated the imagined scenes of Tamar being comforted by Bathsheba offscreen while the men fought among themselves. The women are not just characters in the mens' stories, but they were busy caring for the family and managing the household. This book dares to ask the hard questions that my white churches were scared to ask because the answer was uncomfortable and hard. Definitely worth reading.

Thank you to NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for the e-ARC of this book.

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Camille Hernandez doesn’t claim to be a theologian. She is a woman on a spiritual journey that consists of realizing she has freedom to speak to God about her own questions, her doubts- always wrestling through, seeking a deeper understanding of what scripture has to teach us. She focuses on 11 women, picking apart the biblical narrative, giving a different perspective and way of considering not only what was happening within that narrative but also how that is apparent in many ways in our society and culture today. The common thread throughout each is the violence and oppression each of the 11 experienced.

As a Black Asian woman, she rejected the white evangelical Protestant faith that made her feel shame, devalued, noticed but not truly seen. While I don’t know what denomination she was a part of during that time in her life I am sad that this was her experience. It truly was a violence to her own personhood.

Throughout the book she is very harsh in her characterizations of white Protestant evangelicals and Western Christianity. If this is your background I encourage you to continue reading because although the words are harsh there is truth in what she is saying. This is a book that you want to take time reading, giving space between each chapter so you can consider the implications of new perspectives on age old stories.
#TheHeroandtheWhore #netgalley

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This is an educational and cathartic offering - both for the author and those targeted readers who may need a Biblically-based balm to heal the wounds inflicted by White Evangelical teachings and other misguided and hurtful spiritual rhetoric. Although the author is not a Biblical scholar or theologian, she has examined the “Good Book” and some of its more controversial stories where women are often the victims of heinous acts, She reviews the stories with both a contextual and modern lens and presents the stories and lessons with Common Sense and a holistic appeal to reason. Previous to this undertaking, she was heavily influenced by evangelical teachings, but researched to now challenge the hypocrisy and misogyny in their endorsements and support of modern concepts of purity promises, rape culture, the war on “woke” movement and cancel cultures, racism, sexism, and xenophobia. She explores how Christianity was weaponized to inflict sexual violence against marginalized and indigenous people worldwide, and how it is/was an effective tool used to propagate colonialism and enslavement. The book also appeals for rightful restoration of stolen land to the indigenous people, a heartfelt ask to “do the right thing,” which has historically fallen on deaf ears.

This work is a result of her personal journey because she takes inventory of hurtful events in her own life. With better understanding, she reframes her beliefs and philosophies to adjust her path forward as a Christian and a care provider. For example, she recognizes Sarai/Sarah as both a victim and proliferator of sex trafficking with Hagar as a victim of sex trafficking; both yielding to the desires and power of Abraham. She marvels when Hagar finds her worth by fleeing the abusive relationship and finding her personhood and strength to return on her own terms. Another recognition is that of Leah, a dutiful daughter, burdened with familial and custom cultural obligations and responsibilities to the point she sacrifices herself, dreams, and happiness.

She gives the reader a lot to think about – and I enjoyed reading her views on the lives and lessons of Rahab, Potiphar’s Wife, Jael, the infamous Bathsheba, Hegai and Vashti, Gomer, Salome, and the numerous “adulterous” Biblical women. So many themes and theories presented (I particularly like the mention of the historical celebration of Black matriarchy in pre-colonial West African tribes that was destroyed by European/White patriarchy.)

She cites source material, so I plan to pick up several as time permits. Here's to her continued healing and success with this offering.

Thanks to the publisher, Westminster John Knox Press, and NetGalley for an opportunity to review.

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Of all the things modern people of faith overlook or choose to ignore in the Bible, stories of sexual exploitation are near the top of the list. This isn’t so different from our world today, when victims of trafficking, rape, and harassment are dismissed and disbelieved, their stories twisted and erased. Trauma-informed educator and minister Camille Hernandez dives deep into the Bible’s stories of exploitation and abuse to name the difficult truths buried in Scripture, address the forms such violence takes in modern society, and illuminate a path of healing and hope. With a blend of storytelling, cultural analysis, and trauma-informed care, The Hero and the Whore invites readers to reconsider their assumptions about victims of sexual exploitation and respond with compassionate understanding that will bring us all to the wholeness God desires.

I spent my life in religious schools, where religion was a graded class alongside English and maths. In many of those schools, I was the lone or one of few Black girls. As a consequence, microaggressions and misogynoir were doled out like the catechisms that we had to memorize. Reading the bible from a liberatory, let alone womanist, lens was not something that I was aware of-let alone attempted- until quite recently. This book allowed me to do both. Written from the perspective of a Black and Filipina woman on the journey of healing and understanding, Hernandez' scholarship is a great entree into reading for a better understanding of women, eunuchs and celebrated male figures in the bible who deserve a broader analysis. The chapter on Esther, Vashti, and Hegai was a personal favorite. All told, I would recommend this book for those who want another way to approach the bible from a more human lens.

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I received an advanced copy of this book for review from Netgalley, and would like to state right up front that I did not finish it. I did read 30% but didn't find that I was the right audience for it and couldn't get into the headspace to finish it.

I found the book to be very hard to get into, and it was not what I was expecting when I requested it. In some instances through the book I didn't find that the writing was very well researched (especially the chapter on Hagar) and it seemed to be mostly the author's point of view with very little reference to other resources. I also at some times felt like the author was angry, which I get given some of the subject material she was writing on, but it's not the right way to make a point. I didn't feel like this was a book I could engage in the right way and so I decided not to push myself to finish.

I had hoped for better things for this book, especially given the subject matter and how it aligns with many of the issues the church is facing at the moment, but I didn't like how it was laid out, and the approach of this author didn't work for me.

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I've indicated on the previous page that I won't be recommending The Hero and the Whore to my students. This isn't because I didn't like the book—it's just that I hadn't notice when I requested it that I wouldn't be able to download it in Kindle format. And I'm pretty much a Kindle-only reader, not out of any fondness for Amazon, but because that's the device that works best with my visual impairment.

I do expect to purchase a Kindle copy of this title when it is released. I very much want to read it and am very interested in the topic. I apologize for requesting an electronic review copy of this title before realizing it wouldn't be available in the format I relay on.

Thank you for approving me for this title. I do intend to read and review it once I have a copy that works for me. I'm giving the book four stars here, because I suspect that my rating will be at least that high when I do get a chance to read it.

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