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Texts Of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings Of Biblical Narratives [Paperback]

Phyllis Trible
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 24 2004 Overtures to Biblical Theology (Book 13)
Professor Trible focuses on four variations upon the theme of terror in the Bible. By combining the discipline of literary criticism with the hermeneutics of feminism, she reinterprets the tragic stories of four women in ancient Israel: Hagar, Tamar, an unnamed concubine, and the daughter of Jephthah. In highlighting the silence, absence, and oppostition of God, as well as human cruelty, Trible shows how these neglected stories-interpreted in memoriam-challenge both the misogyny of Scripture and its use in church, synagogue, and academy.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In memoriam... Feb. 13 2006
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Phyllis Trible, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is a noted authority on feminist interpretation and literary analysis of biblical stories of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament. From the start of her career, Trible has addressed the topic of how gender and gender/sex relationships are represented in the bible. She looks for biblical themes that have a 'depatriarchalizing principle', which she admits is a relatively minor theme in the biblical texts.
However, this particular book, 'Texts of Terror', addresses the situation from a different view - these are stories in which women suffer tremendously under the weight of different kinds of patriarchal and male-dominated societal mores. Trible employs feminist critique and literary analysis to four particular stories - that of Hagar, Sarah's maid and mother of Ishmael; David's daughter Tamar; the daughter of Jephthah, sacrificed for her father's promise; and an unnamed concubine from Judges 19, who was brutalised in an astonishingly violent episode in the bible. These stories are offered up in way of a memoriam - the text has graphic openings with tombstones to each of the women, including an epitaph for each.
Trible offers her own translations of the Hebrew texts, translating as literally as possible in most instances. She goes into great detail, drawing out the contradictions and paradoxes in the stories, and makes every aspect important. These are sad stories, as Trible says, and they deserve honesty as they come to us.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Different readings of difficult stories Dec 19 2000
Format:Paperback
While this book was originally published several years ago, the stories it presents may be new to many, even to practicing Jews and Christians. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the rape of Tamar? Trible's readings of these stories may also be new to many readers. I was so engaged by her work on these difficult texts that I literally could not stop reading until I had finished the whole book. I especially found interesting her insightful word studies. But the most significant aspect of Trible's book is her "reclaiming" of these stories so that they can be used to motivate us to work actively for justice so that others are not victims of such terror.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Texts of Terror July 24 2000
By Therese
Format:Paperback
This is one of the most eye opening books I have read! Tribble writes clearly and candidly. Her stories of what happens to some of the women in the Bible are frightening. She is good at reading between the lines. Her chapter on the Levite's concubin in Judges is truly frightening. Her book definately makes the point that the Old Testament writings by and large were not kind to women. This is putting it mildly!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good May 7 2000
By Brooke
Format:Paperback
I must admit that I do not know much about Biblical narratives. I thought that reading narratives first from a feminist perspective would be beneficial, and it has been. This text is a good feminist interpretation (re-interpretation?) of the stories which include women. I found it very interesting.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In memoriam... Oct. 7 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Phillis Trible, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is a noted authority on feminist interpretation and literary analysis of biblical stories of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament. From the start of her career, Trible has addressed the topic of how gender and gender/sex relationships are represented in the bible. She looks for biblical themes that have a 'depatriarchalizing principle', which she admits is a relatively minor theme in the biblical texts.

However, this particular book, 'Texts of Terror', addresses the situation from a different view - these are stories in which women suffer tremendously under the weight of different kinds of patriarchal and male-dominated societal mores. Trible employs feminist critique and literary analysis to four particular stories - that of Hagar, Sarah's maid and mother of Ishmael; David's daughter Tamar; the daughter of Jephthah, sacrificed for her father's promise; and an unnamed concubine from Judges 19, who was brutalised in an astonishingly violent episode in the bible. These stories are offered up in way of a memoriam - the text has graphic openings with tombstones to each of the women, including an epitaph for each.

Trible offers her own translations of the Hebrew texts, translating as literally as possible in most instances. She goes into great detail, drawing out the contradictions and paradoxes in the stories, and makes every aspect important. These are sad stories, as Trible says, and they deserve honesty as they come to us. Trible highlights in her introduction various pitfalls - placing the stories in a disconnected past, recasting the Hebrew stories in a solely New Testament context, and to find an inappropriately happy or redemptive ending in these without allowing the honest conclusion, that sad stories have sad endings. Her idea is rather to let the texts speak and be difficult to wrestle with, in the same manner as Jacob wrestled with the mysterious figure near the Jabbok river. We should not let the stories go until they bless us, but be aware that they may not bless us in the manner we expect.

This is an excellent book for students and scholars. There are multiple indexes (subject, scripture, Hebrew word, author/editor), extensive footnoting, and well-supported scholarship. These chapters come from the Beecher Lectures at Yale. As scholar Walter Brueggemann states in the foreword, Trible's work with the method of rhetorical criticism, operating on the presumption that every word is intentional and nothing is left to chance, is equally true of Trible's own words.

Trible's purpose, beyond the scholarship, is to offer honest and sympathetic readings of these texts of terror in the hopes that we as modern readers will recognise the kinds of conditions and issues still operative in the world, and work to end such terrors.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different readings of difficult stories Dec 19 2000
By Mike Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
While this book was originally published several years ago, the stories it presents may be new to many, even to practicing Jews and Christians. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the rape of Tamar? Trible's readings of these stories may also be new to many readers. I was so engaged by her work on these difficult texts that I literally could not stop reading until I had finished the whole book. I especially found interesting her insightful word studies. But the most significant aspect of Trible's book is her "reclaiming" of these stories so that they can be used to motivate us to work actively for justice so that others are not victims of such terror.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and Brilliant!! March 23 2009
By J. Lednik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Two words, disturbing and brilliant, describe this book along with excellent exegesis applied through a feminist lens to the stories of four neglected women of the Bible. This should be required reading for every person in a position of church leadership and the lay person as well who deserves to be informed.

These stories are extremely tragic, but I found the Unnamed Woman (concubine) and the Daughter of Jephthah particularly upsetting. If you truly are devoted to the Bible and love the Good Book, you owe it to yourself to accept and deal with the violence and tragedy of it as well. Own it! Trible does this with her unique and profound insight that will not let you get away without rethinking these characters (because at times even the narrator (himself?) is in cahoots with the perpetrator/abuser). I like very much Trible's consistent methodology.

What I regret is why she didn't write more books! She has a skill and a voice that needs to be heard as she explores.

I must say also however that I agree with the quote in a prior review here that, "Trible does not communicate a sense of larger biblical patterns." I want to read more Trible! If in addition to four women she applied this to broader, Biblical patterns, yes this would be good!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good resource to look at difficult biblical texts June 26 2011
By John Thornton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Texts of Terror" helps Bible students to address head on the very difficult and sometimes horrific accounts in the Bible text itself.

While I do not agree with the conclusions Phyllis Trible comes to on each and every issue and text, she is to be commended to tackling these tough passages honestly and directly.

This book is better suited for the seminary educated or at least well educated and well read person. In some ways it may be difficult for someone without a hermeneutical background to follow some of the discussions and issues brought up.

Another book to consider along these lines is "Bad Girls of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them" by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Also of a related interest would be "Show Them No Mercy: 4 Views on God and Canaanite Genocide" which also tackles a ough issue of the Bible.

Thanks
4.0 out of 5 stars tough read Feb. 18 2014
By Martha Muckleroy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm in a book club and this is our book. TOUGH read. Not something I would normally pick. It is creating great discussions.
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