Wom(b)an: A Cultural-Narrative Reading of the Hebrew Bible Barrenness Narratives

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In Wom(b)an: A Cultural-Narrative Reading of the Hebrew Bible Barrenness Narratives Janice Pearl Ewurama De-Whyte offers a reading of the Hebrew Bible barrenness narratives. The original word “wom(b)an” visually underscores the centrality of a productive womb to female identity in the ANE and Hebrew contexts. Conversely, barrenness was the ultimate tragedy and shame of a woman. Utilizing Akan cultural custom as a lens through which to read the Hebrew barrenness tradition, De-Whyte uncovers another kind of barrenness within these narratives. Her term “social barrenness” depicts the various situations of childlessness that are generally unrecognized in western cultures due to the western biomedical definitions of infertility. Whether biological or social, barrenness was perceived to be the greatest threat to a woman’s identity and security as well as the continuity of the lineage. Wom(b)an examines these narratives in light of the cultural meanings of barrenness within traditional cultures, ancient and present.
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Biographical Note

Janice Pearl Ewurama De-Whyte, Ph.D. (2014), McMaster Divinity College, is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible & Theological Studies at the School of Religion, Loma Linda University, California.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Abbreviations 1 Wom(b)an: An Introduction 2 (In)Fertility in the Ancient Near East 3 (In)Fertility in the Akan Culture

Part 1: Biological Barrenness

Introduction to Part 1 4 Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel: Beautiful and Barren 5 Infertility in the Former Prophets Conclusion to Part 1

Part 2: Social Barrenness

Introduction to Part 2 6 Leah and Michal: Estranged Wives 7 Dinah and Princess Tamar: Violated Women 8 Tamar and Naomi–Ruth: Widows 9 Conclusion Bibliography Index

Readership

All those interested in the Hebrew Bible and narrative approaches, and anyone engaged in cultural hermeneutics, African biblical interpretation, gender studies and fertility research.

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