Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives

Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives

Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives

Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives


Professor Trible focuses on four variations upon the theme of terror in the Bible. By combining the discipline of literary criticism with the hermeneutics of feminism, she reinterprets the tragic stories of four women in ancient Israel: Hagar, Tamar, an unnamed concubine, and the daughter of Jephthah. In highlighting the silence, absence, and oppostition of God, as well as human cruelty, Trible shows how these neglected stories "interpreted in memoriam" challenge both the misogyny of Scripture and its use in church, synagogue, and academy.


In her first book in this series, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (1978), Phyllis Trible offered a fresh way to listen to the text that permitted the text to have its own say, without excessive interpretive manipulation. By the time of this present book, Professor Trible has become established as one of the most effective practitioners of rhetorical criticism, and as perhaps the decisive voice in feminist exposition of biblical literature.

The studies offered in this book are the substance of her Beecher Lectures at Yale. That lecture series is intended to deal with the preaching enterprise in the church. Trible's perspective on exposition and proclamation is implicit and by example, without direct comment. She proposes to get the interpreter/expositor out of the way so that the unhindered text and the listening community can directly face each other.

What strikes me most about these expositions is the remarkable congruity between method and substance. That congruity has been a continuing agenda of scholarship, for we have become increasingly aware that conventional methods are essentially alien to the matter of the text and are something of an imposition on the text. The method utilized here makes very little, if any, imposition on the text. Trible presents a [state of the art] treatment of rhetorical criticism, learned from our common teacher James Muilenburg. It is hard to imagine the ground gained in the few years since he called for this methodological accent. Indeed, such a perspective was scarcely in purview in Old Testament studies when this series began. The remarkable fact about Trible's use of the method is that while she is fully conversant with literary theory, her presentation is free of every theoretical encumbrance.

But of course this book is not an exercise in method. It is the substance of the argument that makes the difference. The method . . .

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