Book Review: Gender, Power, and Persuasion: The Genesis Narratives and Contemporary Portraits -- By: Jordan Easley

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 23:4 (Autumn 2009)
Article: Book Review: Gender, Power, and Persuasion: The Genesis Narratives and Contemporary Portraits
Author: Jordan Easley


Book Review: Gender, Power, and Persuasion:
The Genesis Narratives and Contemporary Portraits

By Mignon R. Jacobs (Baker, 2008)

Reviewed by

Jordan Easley

JORDAN EASLEY is an M.Div. student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; he has also published in Modern Reformation.

In Gender, Power, and Persuasion, Mignon Jacobs examines the ancient Genesis narratives with fresh insight and clarity. She weaves together both a faithful identification of key texts and a modern “multicritical” analysis of those texts. Indeed, this book is particularly relevant for egalitarians looking for different methodologies to address the gender issues of the familiar Genesis stories. Thus, while her foundations are evangelical, Jacobs is not afraid to probe the Old Testament from many new perspectives: psychological, feminist, postcolonial, literary, form, and ideological criticism. Most crucially, as the title suggests, Jacobs explores the Genesis narratives from “the conceptual framework of gender as it is manifested in power and persuasion” (208).

The book is divided into three main sections. In part 1, Jacobs discusses the nature of divine and human dynamics in Genesis 2-3, the stories of creation and the fall. She underscores the tension between human power and the power of God. She observes the relative powerlessness that all humans experience in a system in which the divine will dominates, yet she also emphasizes the significance of Adam and Eve’s choices as empowering them within this system.

In part 2, Jacobs approaches different configurations of gender dynamics as they appear in various stories: male/female—Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 12, 20), Judah and Tamar (Gen. 38); male/male—Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 27-28); female/female—Sarah and Hagar (Gen. 16, 21), Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29-30). She pays special attention to the nature of perceived status, public and private roles, deception and disguise, and levels of argumentation.

In parts 1 and 2, each chapter concludes with relevant observations about the Genesis narratives, but in part 3, Jacobs applies these observations to contemporary contexts. In particular, she looks at how the Old Testament relationships might typify the problems and/or solutions that arise in relationships in the workplace and home. She analyzes the role of power in both the public and private domains as well as the role of persuasion as part of the modern communication process.

Jacobs approaches the dysfunctional relation...

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