A new volume in the Bible in Africa Studies series provides a study of the passage on widows in 1 Timothy 5.

Beck, Stefanie. Witwen und Bibel in Tansania: Eine leserinnenorientierte Lektüre von 1 Tim 5,3-16. Bible in Africa Studies 27. Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2020.

The volume is the published version of a dissertation completed under Joachim Kügler at the University of Bamberg (Otto-Friedrich-Universität). The table of contents is available here. The entire volume is available online here. The following description is provided:

“After the death of their husbands African women, who are living in patriarchal societies, experience cruel mourning and purification rituals, which they have to undergo and they are often stigmatized and accused of being witches. In this fatal situation, God is often their only anchor, God, who already appears in the Bible as the protector and father of widows and orphan. In the Old Testament, two book are named after widows, the Book of Ruth and Judith, and in the New Testament there are numerous widow stories, primarily in Luke, which are all characterized by a special relationship with God. However, the reality in the ancient world was as follows: there was a large number of widows, working in the churches, which displeased the officials of the communities. They didn’t only take over charitable activities, but they missionized and were even paid for it. 1Tim 5:3–16, which categorizes widows, was read and interpreted by widows in Tanzania. It is demonstrated how they deal with a text, which was written for them as widows. They didn’t allow themselves to be influenced by restrictions, in fact they drew out positive results. It is also highlighted how the widows interpret 1Tim on their cultural background, how they position themselves and see themselves as brides of Christ.”

As a final note, the fact that the dissertation was completed under the direction of Joachim Kügler, and the reference to Tanzanian widows seeing themselves as “brides of Christ” brought to mind the following essay by Kügler:

Kügler, Joachim. “Junge ‘Witwen’ als Bräute Christi (1 Tim 5,11f.). Der Gender-Impuls der Jesus-Tradition und seine Umsetzung in paulinischen Gemeinden vor dem religionsgeschichtlichen Hintergrund religiös motivierter Ehelosigkeit von Frauen.” Pages 483–97 in Erinnerungen an Jesus: Kontinuität und Diskontinuität in der neutestamentlichen Überlieferung. Festschrift für Rudolf Hoppe zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Ulrich Busse, Michael Reichardt, and Michael Theobald. Bonner Biblische Beiträge 166. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011.