New Testament Essay Survey: Study Of Feminist Perspective
New Testament Essay Survey
How does a feminist perspective illuminate the biblical text? Discuss with reference to Judges 19.
In this essay I will be discussing how a feminist perspective within the book of judges 19 illuminates the bible text. I will be primarily focusing on the concept of women, which I will then draw out four analytical points from. The four points that I am going to explore firstly is, how concubines are depicted within the text? Secondly how women don’t have a voice. Thirdly, why men are not raped within the narrative. Finally, the importance of titles used to refer to a person within the text. In this essay I will also be looking at a range of scholarly interpretations who have commented on this text. I will attempt to add my own perspective as to what I understand within the narrative. By the end of this essay you should have an and incite as to how the author of the biblical text reveals women. You will also be made to think thoroughly at the four points from a different perspective.
How is a concubine depicted within the text?
The author of the book of Judges introduces the readers to a concubine Judges 19:1 who is not given an identification as what her name is but is referred to a concubine. This only leaves me with curiosity to ask why the author deliberately excludes her name? or perhaps what a concubine essentially is? The word ‘Pilegesh’or ‘פִּילֶגֶשׁ’ is a Hebrew term for a concubine . This noun is often associated with the Greek word ‘pallakh’ and Latin word ‘Pellex’ which both translate Concubine1. Susan Scholz a feminist Scholar states that the term concubine derives from the feminist Latin noun ‘Concubina’ which means ‘to lie with’ or ‘Lie together’1. The author of Judges in the opening chapters of the text makes it apparent to readers that the concubine ‘played the whore against him’ Judges 19:2 (Him refers to husband), which straights away indicates her unfaithfulness to her husband. However, this doesn’t quite define what a concubine is? The biblical text illustrates that a ‘certain Levite from Ephraim (city) took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem’, while he was sojourning through the land. This could suggest that a concubine is somebody who offers themselves voluntarily to someone for sexual gratification. Another suggestion can be that a concubine didn’t quite have a choice to enter a ceremonial marriage covenant which suggests why the Levite ‘took her’ at his will, or it could possibly mean the opposite since the author of the text doesn’t explicitly state if the Levite asked the concubine permission to marry her prior to the time ‘he took her. This can imply that the concubine was not used for marriage purposes. The concubine is depicted as a prostitute Jdg 19:2, however no evidence is given as to who the concubine had sexual intercourse with within the text? Could this be a false accusation? If that’s the case then why did the Levite run after the concubine to bring her back after she left to return to her father’s house, after what seems to be an unfaithful act done by the concubine Jdg19:3? Susan Scholz states that reason, why the concubine escapes to her father’s house, was because she was abused by the Levite man hence why the Levite ‘went after her, to speak friendly unto her’Jdg19:3 to perhaps reconcile her back to himself after she had left him for ‘four whole months’1. This could suggest that the Levite man wasn’t necessarily interested in a relationship but for sexual gratification. [1: Susanne Scholz, https://www.bibleodyssey.org:443/people/related-articles/concubine]
Do women have a voice?
The concept of a voice as supposed to voices plays a fundamental role within the narrative between the characters. The narrative illustrates the importance of a voice in the opening chapter of the story where the concubine is compelled to leave a Levite man who is depicted as her husband Jdg 19:2. However, there are no oral evidence from the lips of the Levite man as to what the concubine had done which led to her leaving her husband. The author states the concubine was ‘unfaithful to him’ Jdg 19:2. Hence why I can assume the Levite made the conscious decision to let her go. The concubine within the text doesn’t say a word regarding her accusation but rather leaves the house without giving her side of the story. His concubine leaves the house and returns to her father’s house for ‘four full moths’, however the Levite man ‘arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back’ Jdg 19:2-3. This can suggest that concubine wasn’t given a voice hence why the Levite man desperately wanted to reconcile the relationship that he once had or lost. Comment by Samson:
As the narrative develops the Levite man is given a chance to settle the issue that initially caused the controversy, as the father of the concubine welcomes him into his home (Jdg 19:3. The author makes it apparent that there seems to be a great deal of hospitality offered to the Levite man by his father in law who appears to enjoy the company of his son in-law by providing him with food and shelter, he even successfully manipulates his son in-law to stay longer than usual Jdg19:4-6. Sarah Jobe sates that the ‘Levite eats and drinks with the women’s father’ as supposed to his concubine . This statement could possibly indicate the transition from the Levite intending to resolve issues with his concubine to a deluxe banquet with his father in-law. Feminist scholar Phyliss argues that a journey that was supposedly meant to be about speaking ‘to her heart (concubine) has become a visit to engage with male hearts (Levite and father in law)’ . She also goes on to state that she has ‘no speech’3. Both Sarah and Phyliss’s statements suggest that the concubine doesn’t have a voice and it appears that both men seem to be doing all the talking and you can only hear their voices. [2: Sarah Jobe, https://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=1876 ] [3: Phyllis Trible, “Texts of Terror” Read pg 66]
Why men are not raped within the narrative?
The concept of rape within the narrative has been wildly debated within the feministic realm, that has compelled many feminist authors over the decades to produce books concerning such controversial a topic. Judg 19:22-25 gives readers an account as to what occurred during this event which depicts homosexual men who sought to rape a Levite man who had no pleasure in the opposite sex. This is made evident to readers when these men surround the house that the Levite man and his concubine was temporally leaving in, which an old man kindly allows them to stay in as they had nowhere to stay. The author records the men forcefully banging on the door that very same night that the guest were welcomed in, saying ‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him’ However this did not sit right with the old man as he pleaded with them at the entrance of the door that they shouldn’t ‘do such an outrageous thing’ so alternatively he offers the Levites concubine and his very own daughter, suggesting that they would do as they please with them, however they refused to pursue them. Carrol Meyers states that sexual abuse of women was regarded as less disgraceful as supposed to sexual abuse done to men. She then goes on to say that the attitude depicted within text goes on to portray both the reduction of women and the fact that homosexual rape was considered as an attack on male honour read . [4: Carol Meyers “Women in Scripture” read pg1]
Jones.W states that the Levite man was acting to diminish the grade of victimization, hence why he saves himself by pushing his concubine outside in order to be raped by the men . Both statements suggest that men within the social context avoided situation that would put them in a state of vulnerability which can indicate weakness. Echoing from Jones statement the text then leads to the concubine being gang rapped by some Gibeon men from ‘night till morning’ after ‘the man took his concubine and brought her out to them’ judg19:24. Suppose the Levite man was ganged raped by the Gibeonite men. I would presume that there would be a great sense of shame which could possibly degrade his status as a man within the narrative. [5: Jones Warsaw “Toward a womanist hermeneutic” read pg177]
How tittle’s and characters play a significant role within the narrative?
Tittles are fundamentally important today, as it is used to identify a person. Without the use of a tittle understanding of an individual can be constrained. The author of the narrative makes a clear distinction between characters within the text with the use of titles to help readers to understand characters in a more profound way. The first mention of a tittle within the opening narrative Is used to refer to a ‘Levite’ who is depicted as a male because he ‘took a concubine for himself’ Jugd19:1. The second title used, is to refer to a ‘concubine’ who plays the ‘harlot against’ the Levite however ‘her husband rose and went after her’ to reconcile himself back to his concubine after she returned to her father home Jugd19:2-3. This indicates to the readers that this Is a husband and wife relationship. However nowhere throughout the duration of the text is there any mention of the concubine being referred to as his wife as supposed to ‘her husband’. This can connote a sense of not belonging to him although she is his wife. Suppose she was referred to as his wife, there should be some clear indication or perhaps demonstration as to how much he loves his wife, however that’s not to say that he doesn’t because he does try to restore his relationship. However, on the other hand towards closing chapters of the narrative the author uses the title ‘lord’ to refer to the Levite after his concubine was ganged raped by a group of men ‘judge19:26’. The word ‘lord’ in Hebrew translates adon or אדוןv which means ‘master’ or ‘owner’ . Athalya Brenner questions why the author uses the word ‘lord’ to refer to the Levite in the passage. She states that this is the first time within the narrative that the relationship between the Levite and the concubine is trully revealed because the label changes from ’husband’ which is an intimate relation, to the title ‘lord’ which is a more objective relation . I would imply that if he was supposedly meant to be the ‘lord’ of his wife, then why didn’t he protect his wife from being raped or perhaps check if she was okay after opening the door the next morning to find his wife lying dead on the floor after being raped ‘night till morning’ Jugd19:25-26. [6: “Adon” http://www.messianictorah.org/en/pdf/Chapter%203.pdf] [7: Athalya Brenner “A feminist companion to Judges” read pg 177]
In this essay, I’ve managed to discuss how a feminist perspective within the book of judges 19 illuminates the bible text. I’ve primarily focused on the concept of women, which I then drew out four analytical points from. I’ve look at and have explored four points by referring to the biblical text. In this essay also looked at a range of scholarly interpretations and have attempted to add my own perspective as to what I understand within the narrative. I’ve observed that my interpretation throughout the beginning of the essay till the end of the essay indicated a similar point of view as to the feministic interpretations stated perhaps because of the severity of the narrative.