Stud­ies in Bible and Fem­i­nist Criticism

Tik­va Frymer-Kensky
  • Review
By – October 24, 2011

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. 

Susan Sapiro is an Asso­ciate at DRG, Inc. — The Devel­op­ment Resource Group, in New York City.

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