Dutiful Daughters and the Fathers Who Fail Them: The application of feminist insights and the retrieval of resistance strands of women's traditions via a narrative analysis of four unmarried daughter texts in the Hebrew Bible.

Author: Margaret Carlyn Hunt

Hunt, Margaret Carlyn, 2010 Dutiful Daughters and the Fathers Who Fail Them: The application of feminist insights and the retrieval of resistance strands of women's traditions via a narrative analysis of four unmarried daughter texts in the Hebrew Bible., Flinders University, School of Humanities

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Abstract

Through the application of a feminist narrative methodology, this dissertation examines narratives about unmarried daughters and their fathers in the Hebrew Bible. A primary aim is to gain feminist insight into the texts and thereby retrieve strands of resistance narrative which may be present in one or more of the stories. In the process, commonalities between the texts, particularly in regard to the protagonists, have been noted. Four pericopes have been chosen to study daughters who are of marriageable age and are the responsibility of their fathers because they have not yet been given in marriage. The nine daughters - the two daughters of Lot (Genesis 19), Mahlah, Hoglah, Milcah, Noah and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27 and 36 and Joshua 17), the daughter of Jephthah (Judges 11) and Tamar, the daughter of David (2 Samuel 13) - share the narrators - androcentric interest in the preservation of family lines of descent. The first two stories record the success of this endeavour due to the efforts of the daughters, while the second two document the failure of the daughters to halt family disintegration brought about by their fathers' negligence. Although suppositions and opinions about the origins of narrative strands in ancient texts are necessarily presented with caution, this dissertation's narrative and feminist analysis has led me to construe that valuable traces of women's traditions - which the narrators presumably retained for theological, political or other reasons - are nevertheless discernible in the texts. In Genesis 19, for example, Lot's daughter's speech reveals a salvific proposal; Judges 11 retains references to three women's rituals; the description of Tamar's food preparation in 2 Samuel 13 almost certainly has cultic significance; and the chutzpah of Zelophehad's daughters in Numbers 27 and Joshua 17 is one of the Hebrew Bible's best kept secrets. My analysis and feminist re-readings of the chosen stories identify a rarely acknowledged world of women's wisdom in what could be remnants of traditional material which have been preserved and handed down by the women of early Israel.

Keywords: feminist,resistance narrative,Hebrew Bible,unmarried daughters,fathers
Subject: Theology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2010
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Prof Norman Habel