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Reading the Women of the Bible

by Tikva Frymer-Kensky
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In this fascinating and important study, Tikva Frymer-Kensky ? biblical scholar, linguist, feminist ? takes up two of the most significant intellectual and religious issues of our day: the experiences of women in a patriarchal society and the relevance of the Bible to modern life. She examines the stories of Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel; of Dinah, Tamar, Deborah, Ruth and Jezebel; of Biblical women young and old, married and single, named and anonymous. She considers them individually and collectively, and she describes, using four models, the patterns and themes that emerge from within their lives: women as victor, as victim, as bride-to-be and as God?s voice. Ultimately, Reading the Women of the Bible enables us to go beyond scholarship and to consider what relevance these stories have for today?s women, whose lives are in many ways different from those of our biblical ancestors. Frymer-Kensky succeeds in illuminating with equal intensity the world of the bible and our contemporary culture. Like the novel "The Red Tent," which re-imagines key biblical
narratives from the perspectives of their female characters, this
fascinating, innovative and deeply textured study delves into the
narratives of the women of the Hebrew Bible. Conspicuously absent from
the book, writes University of Chicago scholar Frymer-Kensky, are Eve
and Miriam, who are certainly important but whose lives "do not always
illuminate" the lives of more ordinary women. Frymer-Kensky divides
her subjects into four categories--the "victors, victims, voices, and
virgins" of biblical history. In so doing, she establishes remarkable
patterns among the narratives and invites the reader to explore the
literary, cultural, historical and linguistic elements of each text.
Drawing upon a "hermeneutic of grace" as well as the much-touted
"hermeneutic of suspicion," Frymer-Kensky has crafted a book that is
both challenging and heartening.
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