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God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality

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Focusing on texts in the Hebrew Bible, and using feminist hermeneutics, Phyllis Trible brings out what she considers to be neglected themes and counter literature. After outlining her method in more detail, she begins by highlighting the feminist imagery used for God; then she moves on to traditions embodying male and female within the context of the goodness of creation. Focusing on texts in the Hebrew Bible, and using feminist hermeneutics, Phyllis Trible brings out what she considers to be neglected themes and counter literature. After outlining her method in more detail, she begins by highlighting the feminist imagery used for God; then she moves on to traditions embodying male and female within the context of the goodness of creation. If Genesis 2-3 is a love story gone awry, the Song of Songs is about sexuality redeemed in joy. In between lies the book of Ruth, with its picture of the struggles of everyday life.


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Focusing on texts in the Hebrew Bible, and using feminist hermeneutics, Phyllis Trible brings out what she considers to be neglected themes and counter literature. After outlining her method in more detail, she begins by highlighting the feminist imagery used for God; then she moves on to traditions embodying male and female within the context of the goodness of creation. Focusing on texts in the Hebrew Bible, and using feminist hermeneutics, Phyllis Trible brings out what she considers to be neglected themes and counter literature. After outlining her method in more detail, she begins by highlighting the feminist imagery used for God; then she moves on to traditions embodying male and female within the context of the goodness of creation. If Genesis 2-3 is a love story gone awry, the Song of Songs is about sexuality redeemed in joy. In between lies the book of Ruth, with its picture of the struggles of everyday life.

30 review for God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality

  1. 5 out of 5

    M Christopher

    I have no doubt that in 1978, this book was groundbreaking. In 2012, it seems commonplace. Dr. Trible carefully uses the tool of Rhetorical criticism to analyze some key texts in order to prove that the Bible is not entirely patriarchal in its message and that both femininity and sexuality have positive place in the people of God. Again, in the era when feminist theology was still avant garde, this would have been a stirring message. But while the ensuing years have taken much of the new shine I have no doubt that in 1978, this book was groundbreaking. In 2012, it seems commonplace. Dr. Trible carefully uses the tool of Rhetorical criticism to analyze some key texts in order to prove that the Bible is not entirely patriarchal in its message and that both femininity and sexuality have positive place in the people of God. Again, in the era when feminist theology was still avant garde, this would have been a stirring message. But while the ensuing years have taken much of the new shine off of Dr. Trible's thesis, they have in no way detracted from the careful scholarship of her work. There is much to be gained here from the study of the use of feminine images for God (especially the Scripture's oft-repeated allusions to God's womb) and the patient analysis of the story of Creation and Fall in Genesis 2. The chapter on Song of Songs is slight but may still hold surprises for those who've not previously given much time to that peculiar piece of Old Testament Wisdom. Likewise, the chapter on the Book of Ruth seemed to me to hold only a few new insights but may be challenging or encouraging for anyone who has skipped over this short book. All in all, a worthwhile read but one that has faded from importance in the 34 years since its publication as feminist theology has become more mainstream.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    This book with its rather forbidding title was published in 1978, and while it was a key book in the early movement of feminist readings of the Bible, its age shows a bit. It reads (unfortunately) like a doctoral dissertation, and dissertations are rarely graceful. And I think she depends a bit too much on the Freudian contrast between Eros and Thanatos, the life-force and the death-force. I'm not sure very many people believe in those any more. But the long central chapter--on Adam and Eve--was This book with its rather forbidding title was published in 1978, and while it was a key book in the early movement of feminist readings of the Bible, its age shows a bit. It reads (unfortunately) like a doctoral dissertation, and dissertations are rarely graceful. And I think she depends a bit too much on the Freudian contrast between Eros and Thanatos, the life-force and the death-force. I'm not sure very many people believe in those any more. But the long central chapter--on Adam and Eve--was the meat of the book and was excellent. It was a very close reading of the relevant passages in Genesis, with emphasis on the meanings, orderings, and repetitions of Hebrew words. I found it completely convincing. At the beginning she lists a number of traditional views of the story: that Eve is secondary and subservient to Adam, that she tempts him, that she is eager to be fooled by the serpent and "be like a god," that her curse for disobedience is worse than Adam's, and so forth, not a single one of which is supported by a close reading of the Hebrew text. I found the rest of the book, in which she used the same techniques to analyze the Ruth and Naomi story and the Song of Songs to be less successful. I'm sure the meanings, orderings, and repetitions of words are really there; but knowing about them doesn't really add much to the received understandings of the stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Walker

    A thought-provoking reading of the Hebrew Bible from a feminist hermeneutic perspective, presented by a leading feminist theologian. Part of the "Overtures to Biblical Theology" series.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    This book is a (nonviolent) bullet to the heart of any argument that the Genesis creation stories legitimise male 'headship' or dominance over women. It's drowningly exegetical for the theologically uninitiated, but worth the slog.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Trible had a command of English prose, literary theory, and Hebrew narrative and language that is unmatched. I found much of her exposition and description in this book compelling, though not all of it was convincing for me. Most problematic were her blatant use of the root fallacy with RAHUM, and her (unintentional?) advocacy gender complementarity (e.g. Do only male-female couples bear of Imago Dei, or do both equally, and individually bear it--she is not clear and it leans toward the former Trible had a command of English prose, literary theory, and Hebrew narrative and language that is unmatched. I found much of her exposition and description in this book compelling, though not all of it was convincing for me. Most problematic were her blatant use of the root fallacy with RAHUM, and her (unintentional?) advocacy gender complementarity (e.g. Do only male-female couples bear of Imago Dei, or do both equally, and individually bear it--she is not clear and it leans toward the former in my mind). Nevertheless, each chapter does well to show the equality of women with men, and that any imbalance in relationships is not God-ordained. In light of this, her chapters serve also to critique patriarchy and misogyny (particularly those on Gen 2--3, and Ruth). The chapter on God-female is also very good (aside from the root fallacy that runs throughout), if only for the well crafted argument that descriptions of God as stereotypically male do not have a monopoly on God-talk. Indeed, God-female can be located, and should be appreciated. Loved the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tristan Sherwin

    Superb! A much needed correction to our overemphasis on the masculine definitions of God. Trible, by examining the Hebrew language and employing form criticism, does an excellent job at highlighting the feminine images of God employed by the writers of the scriptures. A definite readnot only for those interested in feminism, but for all seeking to reorient themselves with the heart of God. Tristan Sherwin, author of *Love: Expressed* Superb! A much needed correction to our overemphasis on the masculine definitions of God. Trible, by examining the Hebrew language and employing form criticism, does an excellent job at highlighting the feminine images of God employed by the writers of the scriptures. A definite read—not only for those interested in feminism, but for all seeking to reorient themselves with the heart of God. —Tristan Sherwin, author of *Love: Expressed*

  7. 5 out of 5

    Miguel Núñez

    Un libro extraordinario.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lee

    I did not read the entire book only the chapters on the Genesis creation stories. Framed as a debunking of a misogynistic reading of the Genesis creation stories, it offered a lot of food for thought about the nuances of the language and story. I was interested to read about the many puns in Genesis that are lost in translation. Most interesting was the argument that woman was not created subordinate to man, rather the domination of male over female is the result of their fall, the punishment for I did not read the entire book only the chapters on the Genesis creation stories. Framed as a debunking of a misogynistic reading of the Genesis creation stories, it offered a lot of food for thought about the nuances of the language and story. I was interested to read about the many puns in Genesis that are lost in translation. Most interesting was the argument that woman was not created subordinate to man, rather the domination of male over female is the result of their fall, the punishment for disobeying God. It is after they have disobeyed God that Adam gives Eve her name. By naming her he is taking dominion over her as he did the animals. "Division followed, yielding 'opposite sexes.' To defend himself, the man turned against the woman and betrayed her to God. Yet, according to God, she still yearns for the original unity of male and female... Alas, however, union is no more; one flesh is split. The man will not reciprocate the woman's desire; instead he will rule over her. Thus she lives in unresolved tension. Where once there was mutuality, now there is a hierarchy of division. The man dominates the woman to pervert sexuality. Hence, the woman is corrupted in becoming a slave, and the man is corrupted by becoming a master. His supremacy is neither a divine right nor a male prerogative. Her subordination is neither a divine decree nor the female destiny. Both their positions result from shared disobedience. God describes this consequence but does not describe it as punishment." A lot of food for thought. The three star rating is entirely subjective. While I appreciated the copious notes and so on, I would have enjoyed a more popular treatment of the subject. When I pick up a book and encounter the word "hermeneutics" I know I'm going to have to work a bit harder than I initially wanted to.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Morton

    Phyllis Trible's study of Genesis unveils an important portrait in Scripture regarding the compassion of God. This is the strength of her study. Her interpretation of Genesis 1-3 has laid a foundation for much egalitarian writing in our day. She misreads the text, imposing a portrait that does not fit. Important reading for all who want to understand how and where egalitarian thought about the apostle's writings diverge from the original intent.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Wow, Phyllis Trible is so awesome. I loved Texts of Terror, and this is a nice companion to that one, with a more positive set of texts but the same close reading and illuminating analysis. I probably won't use this directly in a congregation because the level of detail is not for everyone, but I will definitely share some ideas from it when preaching and teaching about these passages.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tim Eby-mckenzie

    A marvelous discussion of Genesis 1-3, hitting at the core issue of intimacy as a paradigm for God's created order. Certainly one of the most influential reads in my library. Highly technical, but accessible enough.

  12. 4 out of 5

    William Allred

    very good

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terry Eum

    A very good book, from the narrative of "Adam & Eve" to the Song of Songs to the Book of Ruth. A fun & fast reading- biblically, exegetically...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    alisa and i read through this together as a study...excellent look at women's roles within the Bible. heavy and deep but the author keeps a good balance.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beatrix Li

  16. 5 out of 5

    Booklover1951

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dean

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie Wood

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Cook

  21. 4 out of 5

    GordonChristen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Brayton

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hank

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gerrit

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Haley

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josep Marti

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Vojta

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert S.

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