This post was originally composed for and published on Feminism and Religion, http://feminismandreligion.com/2015/03/29/painting-women-from-judges-part-3-the-sacred-account-of-the-levites-pileges-by-melinda-bielas/
Reading the story of the Levite’s pîlegeš – found in the Hebrew Bible, Judges 19:1-20:7 – is unlike any other scholastic endeavor I have undertaken.1 The narrative is of a woman who leaves her husband’s house, only to be retrieved by her husband, gang raped on her way to his home, and dismembered upon arrival. This intense violence then escalates to the abduction and rape of more than 400 virgins and the death of many more (Judges 20-21). (more…)
The story of the woman from Timnah, Samson’s first wife – found in the Hebrew Bible, Judges 14:1-15:6 – is often interpreted as yet another wickedly seductive woman who distracts and confuses the heroic judge, preventing him from enacting the deity’s will. I remember the first time I questioned this interpretation: I was an undergraduate student teaching a youth bible study.I asked the high school students in the room what they thought about the Timnah woman and how we might understand the story differently if we read it from her perspective. Neither the students nor I had any idea how to answer these questions because we did not know how to see Samson as anything but a hero. (more…)
This post was originally composed for and published on Feminism and Religion, http://feminismandreligion.com/2015/02/10/painting-women-from-judges-part-1-jephthahs-reflective-daughter-by-melinda-bielas/
The story of Jephthah’s daughter – found in the Hebrew Bible, Judges 11:29-40 – is a difficult story to read. The first time I read it, I was in my Christian high school Bible class and I could not understand why our teacher did not address the violence done by a father to his daughter. In my experience, Christians dismiss much of the violence done to women in the Hebrew Bible as evidence that ancient fathers, brothers, and husbands really did not care for their daughters, sisters, and wives. Since today men love the women in their lives, the ancient problem is no longer an issue, and we can continue with more pressing issues – or so the unspoken logic goes.
Weems, Renita J. Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets is an engaging introduction to the use of violent sexual imagery in the biblical books of Hosea, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Renita J. Weems conducts a textual analysis and wrestles with this metaphor from a womanist perspective, using traditional readings of the text, such as historical and social-scientific methods, as well as newer approaches, such as gender criticism, literary studies, and ideological analyses. The intended audience is acquainted with Hebrew Bible academic research; however, its introductory approach makes it accessible to budding scholars.
I grew up in a white-middleclass-fundamentalist-Protestant community. As a result I learned to think of God as my Father, and Jesus as my savior, similar to the fairytale prince in shining armor or the ultimate boyfriend. As an undergraduate studying Religious Studies, I learned of other ways to relate to the Divine and discovered how to be a Feminist Christian. However, many women with backgrounds like mine do not have the (more…)