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Biblical Feminisms: Knowledge, Theory and Politics in the Study of Women in the Hebrew Bible

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The proliferation of biblical feminist interpretations and readings in the last two decades suggests that we may witness the emergence of an autonomous field of studies. In this essay I suggest that in order for such a field to emerge as an autonomous and thriving area of academic inquiry we must begin to think theoretically and critically about the work that has been done, the objectives of this work and the relationships between and among various approaches to the field. In this essay I call for a rigorous and critical biblical feminist epistemology that seeks to address on every turn the question of knowledge production as power; on the other hand I call for a radical democratization of the field and the questioning of any and all orthodoxies and hierarchies that may have already emerged in the field. The first "centripetal" approach insists on clarifying the foundations of the field, establishing genealogies of knowledge and an evolutionary trajectory, crediting and acknowledging theoretical points of origination. Respect for precedence and antecedence is required so as to avoid repetition, imitation and dilution. The second "centrifugal" approach emphasizes the need for interrogating, displacing and destabilizing foundational paradigms in Biblical Studies at large and for the continued questioning of stable identities of "women" as subjects and objects of inquiry. A vigorous field of Feminist Biblical Studies ought to deploy both approaches opening the way to both debate and contestation between various feminist approaches to the Bible on the one hand and to dialogue and alliance between methodologically, theoretically, politically and culturally different approaches on the other.

Affiliations: 1: University of Arizona


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