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The Pleasures of Her Text by Alice Bach

Alice Bach, the editor of Union Seminary Quarterly Review, is the author of more than twenty books for children and young adults. Two of her novels have been named NYTimes Best Book of the Year. Since returning to school in 1985, she has written a series of mystery novels about a pair of high-school girls solving crimes with computers, as well as a novel, He Will Not Walk With Me (Delacorte, 1987). Moses’ Ark: Stories from the Bible (Delacorte Press, 1989), written with J. Cheryl Exum, was a Best Book of 1989 of the American Library Association. She and Professor Exum have written a second volume Miriam’s Well: Stories about Women in the Bible to be published by Delacorte in 1991. A doctoral student in biblical studies at Union, her research involves literary strategies for reading biblical and pseudepigraphic texts. The Pleasures of Her Text, Feminist Readings of Biblical and Historical Texts was published in 1990 by Trinity Press International. This book was prepared for Religion-Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.

A Word of Thanks

Following the introduction of the various chapter contributors in this volume, the author sketches her theme of a search for nonhierarchical articulation of sexual differences in language in the furtherance of feminism, especially in scholarly publications.

Chapter 1: Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister? By Dory Previn
A poetic longing for acknowledgment of the place of women in Jesus’ life as reported in the Gospels.

Chapter 2: Protestant Feminists and the Bible: On the Horns of a Dilemma by Mary Ann Tolbert
The author first reviews the struggle of Protestant feminists with their own special problems, particularly with the androcentric conviction of "sola scriptura", the fragmented diversity of various denominations that marginalize women even farther from each other, and the emphasis on the individual rather than the community. She then outlines some major feminist responses in the service of liberation.

Chapter 3: The Pleasure of Her Text by Alice Bach
Proceeding from the thesis that there can be no neutral reading of a biblical text and that everyone reads subjectively, particularly with male-authored texts, Alice Bach explores the story of the three women in King David’s life – Abigail, Michal and Bathsheba – from a feminist viewpoint.

Chapter 4: Murder They Wrote: Ideology and the Manipulation of Female Presence in Biblical Narrative, by J. Cheryl Exum
The author addresses the gender ideology of biblical texts in the stories of Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter and David’s rejection of his wife Michal by deconstructing the "phallogocentric voice" of the narratives in order to reconstruct a feminist version.

Chapter 5: A Heifer from Thy Stable: Goddesses and the Status of Women in the Ancient Near East, by Carole R. Fontaine
Relying mainly on scholarly conjecture, feminist scholars have attempted to probe ancient texts about the relationship between the status of women and the presence of goddesses in a given culture based on a model of variable verisimilitude in the texts.

Chapter 6: Human Persons as Images of the Divine: A Reconsideration, by Ellen M. Ross
Arguing for the centrality of the image of God theme in contemporary feminist theology Ross traces the positive influences of two medieval theologians as seen in the work of Rosemarie Radford Ruether and Dorothee Soelle, and offers genderless language and imagery to express our intimacy with God and the world.

Chapter 7: "The Devils Are Come Down Upon Us": Myth, History and the Witch as Scapegoat, by Martha J. Reineke
As a feminist historian Reineke challenges the scholarly explanations of the witch hunts between 1450 and 1750 C.E., and documents her thesis that witch hunting was an expression of scapegoating for social control that relied heavily on inquisitorial religion.

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