Essay on Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation

Essay on Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation

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Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation

In the opening paragraph of her article "Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation," Phyllis Trible says that the task she has set before herself, that of relating the words of Hebrew Scripture to the ideology of the Women's Liberation Movement, is considered by many to be "impossible and ill-advised." (Trible, "Depatriarchalizing," 30) Some would suggest, she supposes, that "[t]he two phenomena have nothing to say to each other." (Ibid.) She then quotes Kate Millet expressing one of the more radical views of feminism: that much of the body of scripture in question was written with the express intent of turning the female gender into scapegoats for the ills of the world.

One would suspect that Trible disagrees with Millet's viewpoint, since she forges ahead regardless in her effort to evoke a dialogue between these two towers of thought. By no means, of course, does she pretend that there is a certain enmity between the Bible and women. Quite to the contrary, she treats it as a given. "It is superfluous to document patriarchy in Scripture," she writes (Ibid.), proceeding to list in a footnote a number of other sources that have done so before her. A few sentences later, she states, "Considerable evidence indicts the Bible as a document of male supremacy." (Ibid.) But despite this damning testimony, Trible maintains a faith in the usefulness of the Bible--and specifically, chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis, on which she focuses--to females and supporters of the Women's Liberation Movement. "The more I participate in the Movement," she says, "the more I discover my freedom through the appropriation of Biblical symbols. Old and new interact." (Ibid., 31) She concludes her introduction...


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...ered Ancestress'?" in Fragmented Women. Trinity Press International, 1993, pp. 94-169.

Meyers, Carol. "The Family in Ancient Israel" in Families in Ancient Israel. Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, pp. 1-47.

Meyers, Carol. "The Genesis Paradigms for Female Roles, Part I: Genesis 2-3 and Part II: Genesis 3:16" in Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context. Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 72-121.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. "Anthropology: Humanity as Male and Female" in Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Beacon Press, 1993, pp. 93-115.

Saiving, Valerie. "The Human Situation: A Feminine View" in Womanspirit Rising, Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds. Harper & Row, 1979, pp. 25-42.

Trible, Phyllis. "Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation." Journal of the American Academy of Religion XLI/1 (March 1973) pp. 30-48.

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