مرکزی صفحہ Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Culture (Biblical Theology... Book Review: REFRAMING HER: BIBLICAL WOMEN IN POST-COLONIAL FOCUS. By Judith E. McKinlay. The Bible...
Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Culture (Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology) 2005 / 11 Vol. 35; Iss. 4
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Book Book Reviews position of early Christian traditions, and one hopes that this is the first of a longer series of explorations. There are a variety of other tasks that remain if this approach is to become persuasive. First, although Aitken refers to “composition in performance” in other literatures, mostly epic poetry, she does not explain in detail how the model was thought to work there, and hence it is unclear whether a model developed for Homer is really applicable to the discourse of the early Jesus movement. Second, the presence of liturgical traditions is more assumed than it is argued. This also raises the question, largely unexplored, of how one understands the relationship between the hypothetical liturgical performers and the writers responsible for the literary composition of 1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Barnabas, and Hebrews. Aitken moves rather too quickly from written text, which, whatever else it might be, is scribal, to a hypothetical oral stage without much reflection on the dynamics of textualization. There is also a certain irony in the fact that while Aitken’s focus is on the ritual context of the early passion traditions, there is very little discussion of theories of ritual. Despite these few reservations, however, Aitken has struck out in a new and potentially very productive direction. We can look forward to further explorations of composition in performance. John S. Kloppenborg University of Toronto Toronto, ON Reframing Her: Biblical Women in Postcolonial Focus. By Judith E. McKinlay. The Bible in the Modern World, 1. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2004. Pp. 195. $29.50. In this volume, McKinlay has nicely woven together eight chapters of new and previouslypublished material into a coherent whole. Judging by this first title to appear, the new series, The Bible in the Modern World, promises to pay attention to how the Bible has been variously used around the world, and how new methods or “postures” of reading and interpretation can offer fresh perspectives on and insights ; into familiar stories in the Bible. McKinlay’s perspective is shaped by both feminist hermeneutics and postcolonial criticism, highlighting the significance of social location not only for the biblical writers and editors, but also for the contemporary interpreter. She writes as a New Zealander, specifically as a Pakeha—the label used by the Maori population for those who are not Maori. This is a comparable position to that of the ancient Israelites, whose narrators crafted stories about their own settlement of the land of Canaan, where they emerged as a dominant “other,” while working strenuously to portray the rest of the Canaanite population as the real “Other”—tempting, dangerous, and to be avoided. McKinlay furthermore reflects critically on the missionary history of Christianity in New Zealand where the dominant Christian position has provided the standard interpretation of biblical characters and stories. She writes, then, as a postcolonial critic, but does so from the more unusual perspective of a “settler descendant.” As a member of the dominant culture, she is prepared to encounter “some uncomfortable, disquieting and challenging questions of interpretation and understanding” as she approaches the text (ix), which results in a helpful example of what postcolonial criticism looks like in practice. McKinlay investigates the meaning of selected biblical stories in which female characters or feminine images appear prominently and asks about how one reads these texts in a postcolonial context: how does the dominant Israelite (colonizer) point of view shape the narrator’s representation of others (colonized)? How are women used as characters within the narratives in support of a “politics of dominance” (x)? How are the women represented in their roles? And for what purpose is the female imagery being used? In particular, McKinlay is keenly interested in “how the biblical women and feminine images in the texts . . . were used to serve certain interests and wished-for realities” held by the narrators (x). More specifically, she is interested to see how women are used in biblical narratives to represent the “Other,” over and against whom the biblical writers created Israelite identity and maintained Israelite distinction in the land of Canaan. She argues that throughout the biblical tradition the storytellers used female characters and feminine images as “symbols of the threatening powers of disordered chaos,” often associated with things considered “foreign” and dangerous to Israel. She highlights a particular rhetorical (and gender) strategy by which a “stock figure,” a female embodiment of evil “Otherness,” is used to support Israelite (and male) dominance (30). McKinlay identifies Jezebel as the “prime example of that very stock figure of ‘foreign’ evilness, whose seductive and sinister powers are inevitably deathly” (31). In her story and, in particular, in her death, Jezebel is constructed as a character embodying everything that Israel is not by the narrator who is concerned to establish Israel’s peculiar identity in the land. McKinlay begins with Israelite monotheism, with its deity typically portrayed in masculine terms and images, and the sharp polemic in the Hebrew Bible against the goddesses who appear in ancient Israel’s religious environment. In fact, the goddess supplies one of the primary frames through which McKinlay reads the biblical tradition, seeing her in the background of the Bible’s representation of Eve, Jezebel, and the woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet” (Rev 21:1–2). She notes the effort on the part of Israel’s official storytellers to differentiate Israel from its neighbors on religious grounds, resulting in the attempt within Israel to eradicate the feminine representation of the divine as asherah/Asherah. But immediately McKinlay wonders how the figure of Wisdom, so positively represented in Proverbs (and in which she sees traces of the feminine divine), escaped the anti-feminine polemic that was directed against Asherah. Her conclusion: one finally eradicates a female deity by transforming her into a metaphor (5). Wisdom may be feminine, but she is a feminine expression of some aspect of Israel’s male deity. The rest of the volume follows this leitmotif through the Bible. McKinlay argues that this effort to suppress the “Other” (and the goddess) can be traced in the portrayal of women elsewhere in the biblical text. Specifically, she takes up stories involving Eve, Sarah (and Hagar), Rahab and Ruth (“Others” who nevertheless appear positively in Israel’s story as heroines because of their having abandoned their Canaanite [Moabite] “otherness” and who speak the words their Israelite narrators have given them), Jezebel, the Syrophoenician (Canaanite) woman 156 Downloaded from btb.sagepub.com at NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIV on June 20, 2015 B I B L I C A L T H E O LO GY B U L L E T I N • VO LU M E 3 5 who encounters Jesus at Tyre, and the two cities —Babylon/Rome and (new) Jerusalem—portrayed as women, in the Apocalypse. In each chapter, McKinlay draws on personal experience from her New Zealand (and Pakeha) context, as well as Maori religion and customs, and contemporary literature from New Zealand. In the conclusion she writes: “Just as over centuries scribes, editors, scholars, and creative imaginers have all taken these female characters and images and shaped them to fit their own careful construals, so I have been suggesting that for women and for (post)colonial readers there is a need to scrutinize them afresh and read them again with care” (163). McKinlay effectively draws readers, who may well enjoy a place of privilege within the dominant culture, into just such a careful rereading, with her clearly written study about biblical women. With this little volume in hand and in mind, the reader has new frames through which to read again the biblical tradition. Mark Bartusch Valparaiso University Valparaiso, IN 46383 The God Who Provides: Biblical Images of Divine Nourishment. By L. Juliana M. Claasens. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2004. Pp. xxiii + 145. Paper, $20.00. This monograph is the expansion of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation from Princeton Theological Seminary. She focuses on texts that reveal no explicit association of God with femaleness. Emphasizing the role of metaphor, here the metaphor of the God who feeds, she ably demonstrates that this female image of God enriches our ways of taking about God. Thus associations of the provision of food permit one to say something new about associations we have of God. Following a model for biblical theology based on the work of M. Bakhtin, Claasens constructs a dialogue of both biblical and postbiblical voices around the metaphor of God’s provision of food. In every case the metaphor is studied in its own biblical context. To enhance her presentation, she adds both Jewish and Christian voices. Not infrequently there merges the countervoice of different and even contradictory voice. Nonetheless the metaphor always remains open—it is never quite finished. Even though the metaphor may at first register shock, there is the eventual recognition that the metaphor says something vital about God. Indeed in the Eucharist the metaphor becomes a symbol. Although God’s provision of manna in Exodus 16, Numbers 11, etc. finds expression in socalled gender neutral texts, Numbers 11:11–12 and Deuteronomy 32:13–14 allow one to read the former texts by understanding the God who nourishes in maternal terms. In fact, in some of the rabbinic interpretations there is a clear link between manna/food imagery and nursing imagery. “This narrative (Num 11:11–15) portrays God as the One who functions as the Mother, the One who ‘nurses’ Israel by providing food enough for each day” (p. 7). Thus Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 reflect God as an attentive mother who hears Israel’s cries, carefully notes her children’s complaints, and springs to action. However, one should also note that this metaphor of the God who feeds has its negative aspect, e.g., in the quail account in Numbers 11:1, 10, 33. In punishing the rebellious, God functions as a disciplinarian. Deuteronomy 8:15, moreover, links both metaphors: God is nurturing mother and disciplinarian. By having no surplus or scarcity of manna, God also appears as the competent household manager—a metaphor that challenges believers to create a social scene marked by equality and fairness. In Genesis 1–2, Job 38, and Psalms 104: 145–47 the God who provides is personally involved in the life process of all creation. As a result, there is a vital connection between God’s gift of life and God’s gift of food. In turn, this metaphor of God’s providing food for all creation offers an alternative moral vision that impacts our experience of God and our place in the world. In contradistinction to these texts, however, there are others where God does not feed, e.g. in Joel and Lamentations. Nevertheless this God who withholds food functions as an important countervoice that must be kept in tension with the God who provides food. While God does not hear Zion’s plight in Lamentations 2, the narrator does—and perhaps the reader as well. To be sure, Second Isaiah re-reads Lamentations, offering hope to the exilic community. In restoration texts, such as Jeremiah 31:11– 14, Joel 2:18–19, and Amos 9:13–15, God is depicted as reversing the people’s fortunes by once more providing food. Significantly, postbiblical texts continue the notion of God’s eschatological banquet in Isaiah 25:6-9. A particularly relevant restoration text is Isaiah 66:11–13 with its image of a newborn who nurses from the abundant milk that Mother Zion makes available. “This striking metaphor . . . encourages us to think differently about the other texts that use the metaphor of the [sic] God’s renewed provision of food” (p. 81). Thus the female associations of Isaiah 66 and the image of God hosting a banquet in Isaiah 25 challenge the reader to imagine God as a hostess who throws a great party. In the final two chapters Claassens discusses the role of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 9 as well as related texts and God’s provision of food in the Second Testament (especially Luke and John) respectively. She uses Philo to great advantage in the former where he states that God is said to feed, or actually nurse, God’s children through wisdom. Moving beyond the biblical texts, the author considers the metaphor of the God who feeds and the Eucharist. Here she duly notes that the God who enabled the saving work in Jesus is indeed the God who feeds. This is a very compelling study that enhances our appreciation of the gynomorphic images for God in the Bible. An added feature of the work is the adroit use of rabbinic texts and commentaries by authors such as Philo. Moreover, the author also offers practical pastoral dimensions. For example, this “portrayal of the God who feeds in female terms invites the church to recover the female associations of the metaphor . . .” (p. 111). This monograph is a very auspicious start for a young scholar. John F. Craghan Darboy, WI 54915 157 Downloaded from btb.sagepub.com at NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIV on June 20, 2015