The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition

The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition

The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition

The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition

Excerpt

The Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition--as the subtitle of this book reads--include in succession Susanna, the central character of an Addition to the book of Daniel in Greek; Judith, the heroine of an Apocryphon to the Old Testament; and two of the biblical feminine figures, Esther and Ruth. The present book adopts naturally an obvious pattern with essays on these figures constituting the core chapters. These are framed by an introduction to the status of women in the ancient Near East, and more particularly Israel, and a conclusion reflecting upon the motif that ties together this medley of traditional texts dating from different periods, although all belong to what can be called the Second Commonwealth subversive literature in Israel. Hence the title The Feminine Unconventional.

These essays are, in more elaborate and readable form, lectures I was invited to deliver at Rice University, Houston, Texas, in March 1987, in the framework of the Rockwell Lectures. They originally included in their title the word "Figurae," taken in its initial meaning of models or types (before it became imitations or copies). Thus was the term "heroines" avoided--because of its ambiguity, due to a large extent in the West to the ancient Greek ideal of heroism, which has made such an impact upon our way of thinking, while the Hebrew world leaves so little room for . . .

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