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Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories Paperback – April 6, 2004

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Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories + Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes, Second Edition: Women's Stories in the Hebrew Bible + Texts of Terror:  Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives  (Overtures to Biblical Theology)
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A professor of Hebrew Bible at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, Frymer-Kensky (In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth) investigates biblical stories about women to ascertain why "a clearly androcentric text from a patriarchal society" has "so many stories that revolve around women." Deliberately omitting a few prominent women (e.g., Eve and Miriam), Frymer-Kensky focuses on four groups of women: the victors, the victims, the virgins, and those with voice (prophecy, necromancy). She finds that "[c]ontrary to all assumptions...the Hebrew Bible, unlike other ancient literature, does not present any ideas about women as the `Other.' The role of woman is clearly subordinate, but the Hebrew Bible does not `explain' or justify this subordination by portraying women as different or inferior." The author argues that the Hebrew Bible's notion of women as subordinate but not inferior became a paradigm for Israel's understanding of its own subjugation by other nations. Although the book occasionally employs sophisticated terminology, its main arguments about the biblical presentation of women are accessible to educated lay people as well as to religious specialists. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This book has much to say about and to women of every era and age, but its spirit, scope, and breadth go beyond any generic limits. Men—perhaps even more than women—can and should learn much from it, both about the Bible and the women in it.”
—David Noel Freedman, editor in chief, The Anchor Bible
 
“Frymer-Kensky addresses both modern hypotheses and traditional beliefs, and acknowledges which arguments can be supported and which questions remain unanswered. [A] very approachable text that streamlines what could otherwise be a complicated discussion.”
Houston Chronicle
 
"You'll never see the women of the Bible in quite the same way after reading Tikva Frymer-Kensky's excellent new book. In her able hands, these women emerge from the ancient texts with new strength and vigor. Frymer-Kensky is a dazzling thinker who presents her ideas with unusual energy and clarity."
—Ari L. Goldman, author of Living a Year of Kaddish and The Search for God at Harvard
 
“A welcome book, engagingly written. It is a valuable contribution to the growing bibliography of feminist biblical interpretation.”
—Dr. Phyllis Trible, University Professor, Wake Forest University Divinity School
 
“Frymer-Kensky advances our understanding of the gender issues in the Bible by proposing a fresh and suggestive taxonomy of four discourses concerning women. Her persuasive power rests upon her immense capacity to read texts carefully and discerningly. A most welcome and important read!”
—Dr. Walter Brueggeman, Columbia Theological Seminary
 
"Frymer-Kensky presents the women of the Hebrew Bible freshly and brilliantly, bringing to her study a profound mastery of the literatures and cultures of the lands surrounding the Bible. Here is biblical interpretation that eliminates much of the distance between the text and the reader: These stories illuminate the themes and dangers, hopes and fears, that are characteristic of human life anywhere and at any time. And the entire work is presented in a style and with a grace that delight the eye, the ear, and the heart."
—Dr. Walter Harrelson, Vanderbilt University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (April 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211825
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By John M. Herron on February 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you're like me, here's your problem: you're a self-respecting woman, but you're struggling with your faith, whether Jewish or Christian. Why? The Biblical stories at first appear incredibly chauvinistic, and you just don't know if you can handle serving a God who apparently thinks you as a woman should be subservient. You tried going to the local Christian bookstore, but the stuff you found was weak and insulted your intelligence, either making no reference to your equality or advising you to indulge in your own subordination. Worse, some even labeled feminists misguided or even down right witches.
Here's your solution: Rivka and her book. Excuse me while I gush, there aren't enough adjectives to describe the woman's brilliance. Firstly, you need not worry that you're reading a book by some housewife who attends church but never picked up a Bible herself and would like to expound on the joys of degradation. This is a professor, a woman who makes her living on biblical studies, having a deep understanding of the original language, the cultural surroundings of the time and what should be labled "context".
Secondly, you will neither be left behind nor will your hand be held. Even if you've never read the Bible, Rivka will help to describe the stories she's making reference to, and helpfully provide the actual text, and she never makes an assumption that you know more than you actually do. At the same time, she will not emotionally pamper you with feel-good mush, she'll only throw facts at you, hard and fast, and even old-school students will walk away with many new pieces of information. She will not get up on a soap box with moralistic, abstract declarations, she'll hand you the information and make a few suggestions, leaving you to make your own decisions.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have read a few dozen such books and I was very impressed by this one. Tikva Frymer-Kensky is very scholarly she often defers to the original Hebrew. Her work is well documented, yet very readable. I was particularly impressed by her treatment of Hagar. Most Jewish authors either portray her negatively or ignore her altogether.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
In Tikva Frymer-Kensky's Reading The Women Of The Bible: A New Interpretation Of Their Stories, gender issues in the Bible are tackled from the perspective of proposing a new taxonomy of four discourses involving women, reflecting the author's background as a professor of Hebrew Bible at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Informed and informative, Professor Tikva Frymer-Kensky's new and thoughtfully engaging interpretation of their stories includes liberal quotes from the Bible and insights into early Biblical influences and is very highly recommended reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Cohen on October 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
What role a woman should play in Biblical studies?
Did Jewish women contribute anything to the Torah and Talmud?
If so, then, why their views are not always welcome?
Is there a principle difference between a man rabbi and a woman rabbi?
These questions were addressed in this book.
Worth every penny.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sweeti2056 on July 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author provides a very scholarly analysis of women in the Old Testament. If more intellectual reading is not your thing, then this may not be the book for you. However, if you are into writing that is a little more dense, then you might like it. She provides a lot of interesting points. If you want to read about some of the symbolism and meaning of women in the bible, this book could pose very helpful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TheNome on February 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frymer-Kensky has a wonderful, readable text studying not only the interaction between the genders in the books of Hebrew Bible, but also the applicability of Biblical scholarship today. This work manages to be at once information-dense and highly accessible; I was assigned two readings from it for a Religious Studies course, and will definitely be keeping the book just for personal reading afterwards.

The review section here is largely filled with people talking about using this text for their personal faith; that's wonderful, and the text is really quite useable in that manner. It also, however, manages to pull of being a great scholarly work on the subject of Biblical femininity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amber Dahlin on April 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the textbooks in a class I'm taking called Women in the Bible, and it's been really interesting in getting a feminist perspective on the portrayal of women in the Bible. Whether you're interested in the Bible, in feminism, or just in interesting perspectives in the context of society and history, I highly recommend it. It's well written and Tikva Frymer-Kensky offers great thoughtful translations along with her in-depth commentary.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lauren on May 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An excellent read and an excellent resource for students and interested parties. Well-written, clear, with humor and insight too.
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