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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Subject Matter

The studies undertaken by Jewish women address a range of topics similar to that found in women's biblical scholarship more generally. First and foremost, Jewish women's writing on the Bible had focused on the representation of women both within and outside of their family contexts. Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach, by Ilana Pardes (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), for example, analyzes stories about women as well as the female imagery in the Song of Songs, while Taboo or not Taboo: Sexuality and Family in the Hebrew Bible, by Ilona N. Rashkow (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000) explores incest and other aspects of sexuality within the family unit. Athalya Brenner's study, The Intercourse of Knowledge: On Gendering Desire and “Sexuality” in the Hebrew Bible (Leiden: Brill, 1997), examines both the semantics and the narratives of gender and sexuality, including the broad range of what she refers to as “deviations from socio‐sexual boundaries.” Yet not all books by women scholars pay special attention to issues of gender and the representation of women. For example, From Father to Son: Kinship, Conflict, and Continuity in Genesis, by Devora Steinmetz (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), focuses primarily on male relationships and pays little attention to the presence and absence of women in the Genesis narratives.

By contrast, other works incorporate a strong emphasis on gender issues into their treatments of topics that extend beyond women, family, and female imagery. Susan Niditch's study, War in the Hebrew Bible: A Study in the Ethics of Violence (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), is not explicitly a feminist reading of the Bible; indeed, it is much more concerned with addressing the anti‐Jewish interpretations in which biblical Israel, and, by extension, Judaism, are viewed as war‐mongering and parochial. Nevertheless, Niditch examines such female figures as Jael (Judg. chs 4–5 ) and Esther, and addresses issues such as the fate of women in time of war. Adele Reinhartz's Why Ask My Name? Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992) focuses on the unnamed characters in the Bible, both male and female, but it too pays special attention to issues related to gender, particularly because so many of the Bible's anonymous figures are women.

Whereas the above studies focus primarily on biblical texts as such, others place them within the broader context of the ancient Near Eastern world. Tikva Frymer‐Kensky's In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture, and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth (New York: Fawcett, Columbine 1992) examines the biblical transformation of ancient Near Eastern goddess mythology and its impact on sexuality, gender, and wisdom as expressed in the Bible. Other writers look at biblical women as a starting point for a broader discussion of the role of women in Judaism or in Jewish literature. Nehama Aschkenasy's book, Eve's Journey: Feminine Images in Hebraic Literary Tradition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), for example, traces the ongoing influence of female archetypes back to the “otherness” of women in ancient Hebrew literature. Helena Zlotnick's Dinah's Daughters: Gender and Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to Late Antiquity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) looks at the ways in which Judaism contrasts Jewish and Gentile women in the context of national identity. Leila Leah Bronner's From Eve to Esther: Rabbinic Reconstructions of Biblical Women (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1994) examines the treatment of key biblical women in rabbinic literature. These studies are based on the assumption that the biblical portrayal of women has profoundly informed the ways in which women are described in later Jewish literature, and in the laws and customs that have determined women's roles in postbiblical Jewish law and everyday life.

Finally, there is a growing body of literature that takes biblical narratives about women as a basis for more personal responses, in the form of meditations and creative retellings. For example, Alicia Suskin Ostriker's book, The Nakedness of the Fathers (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994), combines poetry, biblical interpretation, and autobiography in a uniquely refreshing and illuminating way. In doing so, she also exhorts Jewish women to do their own interpretations of biblical texts, thereby engaging in their own acts of discovery and creativity. Such works mark the intersection of scholarship and creative literature. They do not so much elucidate the possible meanings of the Bible in its original context as they explore its possibilities for contemporary Jewish women. Yet in the very process of doing so, they often draw attention to the ways in which, and the degree to which, these narratives themselves reflect a particular time and place.

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