Elusions of Control

Biblical Law on the Words of Women


The very utterance of a vow both brings the vow into existence and makes possible its annulment. How difficult is it for a woman to keep her vows when her father or husband has the right to break them?
Inspired by the transoceanic experiences of South Pacific islanders, Havea explores the circularity of vow-making and vow-breaking and performs a circumreading, reading around and across legal and narrative biblical texts. From Numbers 30, where women’s vows are regulated, to various narratives where women’s words are monitored, this circumreading exposes the ways in which words elude control and control eludes words within the world of the text and in the very act of reading itself and demonstrates an alternative “transtextual” way to read biblical law.

Paperback edition available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org).

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Jione Havea is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at United Theological College and Charles Sturt University in Sydney, Australia.
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