The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions

The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions

by Alicia Ostriker, Alicia Suskin Ostriker
     
 

Like much twentieth-century feminist writing today, this book crosses the boundaries of genre. Biblical interpretation combines with fantasy, autobiography, and poetry. Politics joins with eroticism. Irreverence coexists with a yearning for the sacred. Scholarship contends with heresy. Most excitingly, the author continues and extends the tradition of arguing with God…  See more details below

Overview

Like much twentieth-century feminist writing today, this book crosses the boundaries of genre. Biblical interpretation combines with fantasy, autobiography, and poetry. Politics joins with eroticism. Irreverence coexists with a yearning for the sacred. Scholarship contends with heresy. Most excitingly, the author continues and extends the tradition of arguing with God that commences in the Bible itself and continues now, as it has for centuries, to animate Jewish writing. The difference here is that the voice that debates with God is a woman's. In her introduction, "Entering the Tents," Ostriker defines the need to struggle against a tradition in which women have been silenced and disempowered - and to recover the female power buried beneath the surface of the biblical texts. In "The Garden," she reinterprets the mythically complex stories of Creation. Then she considers the stories of "The Fathers," from Abraham and Isaac to Moses, David, and Solomon - and their wives, mothers, and sisters. In "The Return of the Mothers," she begins with a radical new interpretation of the book of Esther, includes a meditation on the silenced wife of Job and the idea of justice, and concludes with a fable on the death of God and a prayer to the Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of God. Ostriker refuses to dismiss the Bible as meaningless to women. Instead, in this angry, eloquent, visionary book, she attempts to recover what is genuinely sacred in these sacred texts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Here acclaimed poet Alicia Ostriker both rereads the Bible from the ``controversial perspective of a twentieth-century Jewish woman'' and creatively interacts with it form a fiercely autobiographical point of view. What results is not another academic explication of the Bible's symbolic and psychological meanings but an imaginative and spiritual dialogue with characters and narratives of the Old Testament. Throughout, Ostriker's goal is to explore her own emotional universe via this ``conversation'' while at the same time using her impressive literary skills to tell the story of the Bible's often nameless women (e.g., Job's wife who, according to the story, had her children slain as a test of her husband's devotion to God and then had them replaced by ten new children.) Indeed, exploring the Bible's female characters' responses to the challenges that confront them becomes, in Ostriker's hands, a way of further humanizing the Bible for both men and women. (Nov.)
Steve Schroeder
Ostriker describes this work as standing in the tradition of midrash, "stories based on Biblical stories," composed not for scholars but for an entire community. It is an impressive collection of poetic variations on texts from Genesis through Job, often taking the perspective of women silenced in the texts themselves. She quotes "the rabbis" as saying of Torah, "Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it." The range of experience revealed here, the disciplinary boundaries crossed, and the stories reconceived lend credence to that claim. Ostriker turns and turns through her own experience; through the creation; through the children of Noah; through Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael; through Rebecca, Rachel, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Ruth, Esther, and David; through Job's wife; to the dying of a God who will not die, as revealed in the Shekhinah--God's presence, which is feminine. It is said that "if two sit together and the words between them are of Torah . . . the Shekhinah is in their midst." In the writing and the reading of this book, there is certainly Shekhinah.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813521251
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
11/28/1994
Pages:
225
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.98(d)

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