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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.23 no.3 Pretoria  2010


Rape and the case of Dinah: Ethical responsibilities for reading Genesis 34



Frances Klopper

University of South Africa





The rape of Dinah in Genesis 34 is an unsettling story that creates discomfort for interpreters, evident in the variety and uncertainty displayed in their interpretations of the rape incident. Dinah's rape is either minimised, denied or the victim is blamed for what happened to her. Interpretations derive from the cultural assumptions of their time and interpretations of this text reflect a culture that encourages rape and sympathises with the rapist. These interpretations have ethical consequences, for by silencing the victim and not taking a stance against the rapist, the rampant rape epidemic of our time is perpetuated. To substantiate this observation, interpretations of Genesis 34 will be explored, tracing the way interpreters read their cultural assumptions about sexual violence into the text. An ethics of Bible reading is proposed that accepts responsibility for the integrity of Dinah, the victim character in the text, as well as for those on the reception side of the interpretation.



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Frances Klopper
Department of Old Testament & Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa
P.O. Box 392, Pretoria, 0003

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