SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.22 número1"From Exile to Zion" - Ethical perspectives from the twin Psalms 127 and 128Ngoma Lungundu: An African Ark of the Covenant índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados



Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google


Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.22 no.1 Pretoria  2009


Interpretation is all we have. A feminist perspective on the objective fallacy1



F. Klopper

University Of South Africa





Feminist biblical interpretation has the task of finding the most promising reading strategy for dealing with the male bias of the biblical text, since all reading strategies are not equally valid. Feminist histories of women in ancient Israel are often coloured with objective certainty and become influential research resources. This article argues that some of these histories tell us as much about the historian as they do about the subjects of inquiry. The reason being that authors as readers cannot avoid approaching the text from their social location that determines their presuppositions and the way they read the text. Texts do not mirror historical reality; all we have is interpretation. To illustrate this point, the narrative of Hagar and Ishmael in Genesis 16 and 21 is examined through the interpretations of nineteenth-century lay women, visual interpretations from the world of art and a resistant feminist interpretation. The objective is to come to terms once again with the indeterminacy of historical inquiry.



“Full text available only in PDF format”




Albertz, R. A History of Israelite religion in the Old Testament period. (Vol. 1) London: SCM, 1994.         [ Links ]

Amit, Y. Hidden polemics in Biblical narrative. Leiden: Brill, 2000.         [ Links ]

Baumer, F. L. Modern European thought. London: Collier Macmillan, 1977.         [ Links ]

Bellis, A. O. Helpmates, harlots, heroes: Women's stories in the Hebrew Bible. Louisville: John Knox, 1994.         [ Links ]

Cornelius, I. Some pages from the reception history of Genesis 3: The visual arts. JNSL 23/2(1997): 221-234.         [ Links ]

Davies, E. W. The dissenting reader: Feminist approaches to the Hebrew Bible. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.         [ Links ]

Exum, J. C. Plotted, shot, and painted: Cultural representations of Biblical Women. (JSOTSS 205). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996.         [ Links ]

Frymer-Kensky T. Reading the women of the Bible. New York: Schocken, 2002.         [ Links ]

Fuchs, E. Sexual politics in the Biblical narrative: Reading the Hebrew Bible as a woman. (JSOTSS 310). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.         [ Links ]

_____ "Points of resonance." Pages 1-21 in On the cutting edge: The study of women in Biblical worlds. Essays in honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. Edited by Schaberg, J., Bach, A., & Fuchs, E. New York: Continuum, 2004.         [ Links ]

_____ "The history of women in ancient Israel: Theory, method and the book of Ruth." Pages 211-231 in Her master's tools? Feminist and postcolonial engagements of historical-critical discourse. Edited by Vander Stichele, C. & Penner T. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.         [ Links ]

Gadamer, H-G. Truth and Method. London: Sheed & Ward, 1988.         [ Links ]

Gardner, H. Art through the Ages. Sixth edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.         [ Links ]

Haag, H., Sölle, D., Kirchberger J. H. & Schnieper-Müller, A-M. Great women of the Bible in art and literature. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.         [ Links ]

Kirchberger J. H. "Extrabiblical materials." Page 41 in Great women of the Bible in art and literature. Edited by Haag, H. et al. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.         [ Links ]

Meyers, C. Discovering Eve: Israelite women in context. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.         [ Links ]

Pardes, I. Countertraditions in the Bible: A feminist approach. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.         [ Links ]

Schnieper-Müller, A-M. "Art history." Pages 42-45 in Great women of the Bible in art and literature. Edited by Haag, H. et al. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.         [ Links ]

Schroer, S. "Feminist hermeneutics and the First Testament." Pages 85-100 in Feminist interpretation: The Bible in women's perspective. Edited by Schottroff, L., Schroer, S., & Wacker, M-T. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998.         [ Links ]

Schüssler Fiorenza, E. "The Ethics of Biblical interpretation: Decentering Biblical scholarship". JBL 107/1(1988): 3-17.         [ Links ]

_____ "Invitation to 'Dance' in the open house of Wisdom: Feminist study of the Bible." Pages 81-104 in Engaging the Bible: Critical readings from contemporary women.Edited by An, C. H. & Darr, K. P. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006.         [ Links ]

Snyman, G. Om die Bybel anders te lees: 'n Etiek van Bybellees. Pretoria: Griffelmedia, 2007.         [ Links ]

Taylor, M-A. & Weir, H. E. eds. Let her speak for herself: Nineteenth century women writing on women of Genesis. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2006.         [ Links ]

Teubal, S. J. Hagar the Egyptian: The lost tradition of the matriarchs. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990.         [ Links ]

Trible, P. God and the rhetoric of sexuality. London: SCM, 1978.         [ Links ]

_____ Texts of terror: Literary-feminist readings of Biblical narratives. London: SCM, 2002.         [ Links ]



Frances Klopper
Dept of Old Testament & Ancient Near Eastern Studies
University of South Africa
PO Box 392, Pretoria, 0003



1 This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Old Testament Society of South Africa held in Windhoek, Namibia, 10-12 September 2008.

Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons