Last Words: Feminist Biblical Revision and Authority
The works of biblical revision examined in this study reveal that the most prominent themes in them--family relations, war, and audience--are all underwritten and connected by a single thread: the woman writer's quest to construct a different basis for her authority. From Emily Dickinson to Gloria Naylor, the engagement of biblical texts creates a context through which the woman writer's authority is articulated. In other words, the central subject of feminist biblical revision is not the Bible. Rather, it is the problems and possibilities of women's authority in a culture shaped by the masculine hegemony that the Bible has come to represent.
Nowhere is the woman writer's signature more evident or vexed than when it is made visible through dialogue with this founding text of Western culture. Recall the multiple and contradictory "I"s that address a divine pater in Dickinson's poetry. The struggle of this persona to define itself against, to be heard above, the Word of the Father seems emblematic of the publication history of Dickinson's work, the jagged path of her word toward less censored publication. Similarly, H. D.'s very signature--those hermetic initials--represent both her name and her naming by one of the chief representatives of the masculine literary tradition in the twentieth century. And finally, Naylor's