Death and Dissymmetry: The Politics of Coherence in the Book of Judges

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 15, 1988 - Religion - 312 pages
Combining literary criticism and feminist analysis, Death and Dissymmetry radically reinterprets not only the Book of Judges but also the tradition of its reception and understanding in the West. In Mieke Bal's account, Judges documents the Israelite culture learning to articulate itself in a decisive period of transition.

Counter to standard readings of Judges, Bal's interpretation demonstrates that the book has a political and ideological coherence in which the treatment of women plays a pivotal role. Bal concentrates here not on the assassinations and battles that rage through Judges but on the violence in the domestic lives of individual characters, particularly sexual violence directed at women. Her skillful reading reveals that murder, in this text, relates to gender and reflects a social structure that is inherently contradictory. By foregrounding the stories of women and subjecting them to subtle narrative analysis, she is able to expose a set of preoccupations that are essential to the sense of these stories but are not articulated in them. Bal thereby develops a "countercoherence" in conflict with the apparent emphases of Judges—the politics, wars, and historiography that have been the constant focus of commentators on the book.

Death and Dissymmetry makes an important contribution to the development of a feminist method of interpreting ancient texts, with consequences for religious studies, ancient history, literary theory, and gender studies.
 

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Contents

III
10
V
11
VI
13
VII
17
VIII
21
IX
22
X
25
XI
27
XXXIV
133
XXXV
136
XXXVI
143
XXXVII
148
XXXVIII
162
XXXIX
170
XL
172
XLI
179

XII
30
XIII
33
XIV
42
XV
44
XVI
47
XVII
53
XVIII
60
XIX
66
XX
70
XXI
73
XXII
74
XXIII
81
XXIV
96
XXVI
97
XXVII
100
XXVIII
105
XXIX
107
XXX
114
XXXI
119
XXXIII
130
XLII
184
XLIII
193
XLIV
198
XLV
207
XLVI
212
XLVII
218
XLVIII
225
XLIX
228
L
230
LI
232
LII
235
LIII
239
LIV
242
LV
243
LVI
248
LVII
252
LVIII
254
LIX
286
LX
300
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About the author (1988)

Mieke Bal is professor of comparative literature and Susan B. Anthony Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Rochester. Her books include Lethal Love: Literary Feminist Interpretations of Biblical Love Stories and Murder and Difference: Gender, Genre and Scholarship on Sisera's Death.


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