List some movies about women who saved or served their people/community/family. You can choose recent films or classics.
If this is a group activity, choose films most people know.
Stage 2: Glance over your list
Have you chosen films that are (fairly) realistic, or do you prefer films that are inspiring/uplifting?
Do your favorites have both these qualities?
What does this say about you and what you need in a story?
Stage 3: Choose your favorite
What are the central qualities of the heroine?
Do you admire these qualities and try to emulate them, or are they out of the reach of ordinary mortals?
Do any of the scenes remind you of your own life or experiences?
Or does the film express what you would like to be?
‘Bend it like Beckham’
Stage 4: Think about your choices
Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.
Individual activity: sit down for a few minutes and focus your mind; answer the questions above as far as you are able; decide which of the heroine’s qualities you would like to have yourself; think about them as you do other tasks in your day.
Which part of the story of Judith has been the most popular with artists?
Would this have been your choice?
Artists paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Explain your reasoning.
If you have chosen something different, ask yourself why this other incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists.
Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.
Images of God
There are two basic questions that hang over the whole of the Old Testament:
what is the image of God in a particular story?
do I agree with it?
Focus on the passage about the nature of God in Judith 9:11-17.
What is Judith’s image of God?
How does it differ from the elders’ image of a God you can bargain with?
Have you encountered this image of a bargaining God in your own experience?
In the modern world’s image of God?
Spend some time in quiet thought, drawing up your own image of God.
Discuss with a learning partner.
Focus questions for the Scripture story
1. What are the most interesting moments in Judith’s story?
Judith & Holofernes, Michelangelo
2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets what they want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends with? Which person would you want to avoid?
3. What is God’s interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator’s image of God? Do you agree with this image?
4. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?
5. Do similar things happen in the modern world? How is the story relevant to modern life?
Rising to the occasion
Judith, Diane Goodpasture
Think of some moments in your own life when you have risen to some extraordinary occasion, some emergency that called for you to behave in a way you would normally find difficult.
Write a brief description of one of these moments in your life.
What qualities emerged that you did not realize you had?
Famous Bible quotes
‘Who are you to put God to the test? You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart… How can you expect to search out God and comprehend his thought?’ Judith 8:12-14
‘Give me strength today, Lord God of Israel!’ 13:7
These two quotes have sustained thousands of people in times of trial. Remember them when you yourself are facing difficult times.