- Hardcover: 225 pages
- Publisher: Rutgers University Press; 1St Edition edition (October 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813521254
- ISBN-13: 978-0813521251
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,500,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions Hardcover – October 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Here acclaimed poet Alicia Ostriker both rereads the Bible from the "controversial perspective of a twentieth-century Jewish woman" and creatively interacts with it form a fiercely autobiographical point of view. What results is not another academic explication of the Bible's symbolic and psychological meanings but an imaginative and spiritual dialogue with characters and narratives of the Old Testament. Throughout, Ostriker's goal is to explore her own emotional universe via this "conversation" while at the same time using her impressive literary skills to tell the story of the Bible's often nameless women (e.g., Job's wife who, according to the story, had her children slain as a test of her husband's devotion to God and then had them replaced by ten new children.) Indeed, exploring the Bible's female characters' responses to the challenges that confront them becomes, in Ostriker's hands, a way of further humanizing the Bible for both men and women.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ostriker describes this work as standing in the tradition of midrash, "stories based on Biblical stories," composed not for scholars but for an entire community. It is an impressive collection of poetic variations on texts from Genesis through Job, often taking the perspective of women silenced in the texts themselves. She quotes "the rabbis" as saying of Torah, "Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it." The range of experience revealed here, the disciplinary boundaries crossed, and the stories reconceived lend credence to that claim. Ostriker turns and turns through her own experience; through the creation; through the children of Noah; through Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael; through Rebecca, Rachel, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Ruth, Esther, and David; through Job's wife; to the dying of a God who will not die, as revealed in the Shekhinah--God's presence, which is feminine. It is said that "if two sit together and the words between them are of Torah . . . the Shekhinah is in their midst." In the writing and the reading of this book, there is certainly Shekhinah. Steve Schroeder
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One, after the amount of time Ostriker spends on the first few moment of Genesis -- the garden, Noah, Abraham (tackled from the viewpoints of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar!) -- it seems like later stories, while just as rich as studies of human and divine nature, are given disproportionately little time on display.
Two, there are moments where Ostriker references Rabbinic and literary analysis of the Bible, and to someone who has experience studying it, it's jarring. To someone who hasn't studied the barren mother stories as instances where God is able to insert himself into the female act of creation, Ostriker's mentions of it probably look like more poetry, but to people who have, it's startling and brings you out of the flow. The Nakedness of the Fathers is part poetry, part literary criticism, but the critical part is cunningly disguised -- except where it's not.
And after those nitpicks, a moment of pure adulation, because it's well-deserved: "Intensive Care" is just stunning. The book as a whole is wonderful, of course, but even if it weren't, "Intensive Care" would be worth slogging through a book of much lesser quality with much less impressive prose just to get to this story, which is shattering and affecting and just the right penultimate note of the book to end on.
This is an amazing, thoughtful book. 10/10, would recommend, will probably read again at some point.