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

Context in Biblical Scholarship

Jewish women writers on the Bible differ fundamentally from non‐Jewish women to the extent that they relate in some way to classical Jewish sources as being part of their own heritage; that they in some way or another incorporate Jewish sensibilities or experiences, however these may be defined, into their scholarship and writing; and that they envisage Jews, or more specifically Jewish women, as an important part of their audiences. Inother ways, however, the concerns and perspectives of Jewish women parallel those of non‐Jewish women, particularly women who explicitly identify themselves as Christian, who examine issues that arise in Christian contexts and address their studies primarily to Christian women. In both cases there are interpreters who read the Scriptures with a “hermeneutics of suspicion” (Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza) in order to identify patriarchal and androcentric tendencies, those who creatively fill the gaps of the text to create new texts, those who find “countertraditions” in the Bible that can be used as a basis for subverting or correcting the text's patriarchal biases, and those who believe that the Bible is beyond redemption. These similarities exist because of mutual influence, but also because Jewish and Christian women are engaged in parallel struggles against the ways that the biblical text has been used to restrict women's activities and possibilities.

The value of Jewish women's writings on the Bible as scholarship can be measured by their contributions to the understanding of the Bible, its narrative, theology, ideology, and all other aspects. In the context of feminist scholarship, however, their value can be measured in terms of their liberative potential. The latter can be seen most clearly in those works that draw on the creative imagination of the author. These works may fall at or outside the margins of the scholarly world, but as personal reflections that attempt to address contemporary women through ancient texts, they have the potential to reach a general audience that may also be open to a new way of reading the Bible. Nevertheless, the proliferation of Jewish women's writing on the Bible, in its very diversity, is a force for liberation and transformation. It exemplifies women's access to education and to the institutions of higher education and publication, and allows women's views to stand alongside those of male scholars in shaping the field of biblical studies. Whether they do or do not view the Bible as a positive force in women's lives, women writers on the Bible themselves model the possibilities for Jewish women to become engaged and make strong contribution in the form of works that will be read and have influence both within the academy and in the broader community.

[ADELE REINHARTZ]

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Oxford University Press

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