Tikva Frymer-Kensky, a professor at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, has been one of the few Jewish feminist scholars of the Bible and the Ancient Near East, a field dominated until recently by male academics and masculine perspectives. Now Frymer-Kensky has been named a JPS Scholar of Distinction (the first woman to receive this honor) and this volume is a sampling of her scholarship over the last three decades.
The essays are divided into six sections according to topic. In “Comparative Culture: Ancient Near Eastern Religions,” Frymer-Kensky compares Israelite and ancient Near Eastern versions of creation myths, flood myths, and goddess myths. She also addresses biblical, legal and theological approaches of both Judaism and Christianity on issues such as law, chosenness, and covenant. The next two sections of essays comprise a variety of Frymer-Kensky’s innovative work on gender issues in the ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, and Jewish law, and include articles on topics such as “Reading Rahab” and “Halakhah, Law, and Feminism.” Essays in the section on “Biblical Theology” address topics such as pollution and holiness in the Bible, the relationship of Israel to its leaders, and the role of humans in the universe. The final section, “Constructive Theology,” includes Frymer-Kensky’s reflections on contemporary issues such as feminine God-language and a theology of healing. The volume closes with an unexpected bonus which shows her versatility as an author. She includes two poems, “Like a Birthing Woman” and “Shaddai,” which incorporate lyrical biblical imagery into the author’s reflections on theological aspects of childbirth.
An eight-page bibliography of the author’s published works at the end of the volume is a testament to the breadth and depth of Frymer-Kensky’s scholarship.