Violence and the Construction of Gender in the Hebrew Bible: a New Historicist Approach 1

In: Biblical Interpretation


This programmatic essay examines the discursive connections between violence and gender in the Hebrew Bible, as well as the methodological problem of the perpetuation of these biblical gender constructions in scholarly interpretation. Adopting a New Historicist perspective on the mutually productive relation of text and culture, the essay asserts that the institutions of warfare and rape are fundamental to the discursive production of the gendered subject in biblical texts: violence against a feminine object is central to consolidation of masculine identity. The article examines Hebrew sacral war motifs, the Deuteronomic laws of warfare and rape, biblical narratives of sexual assault, the prophetic metaphor of divine judgment as rape, and the motif of women who kill in the book of Judges.

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