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Faculty Essay


In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph:

In her book, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives, Phyllis Trible describes the story of the unnamed concubine in the Book of Judges as depicting “the horrors of male power, brutality, and triumphalism, of female helplessness, abuse, and annihilation” (65). While I understand and fully accept that there are patriarchal and misogynistic elements in the text, I find Trible’s feminist interpretation and assessment of the story problematic because it loses sight of one of the Bible’s central revelatory messages; namely, that power, brutality, helplessness and abuse are not gender-specific; rather, they are the result of human selfishness and sin. From an ethics perspective, Judges 19-20 dramatically illustrates the random, chaotic nature of evil in the abuse of power and the damage to the victims regardless of sex. The distinction lies in how individuals deal with the threat and what their response tells us about their character.

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