Feminist Hermeneutics And Evangelical Concerns: The Rape Of Dinah As A Case Study -- By: Robin Parry

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 53:1 (NA 2002)
Article: Feminist Hermeneutics And Evangelical Concerns: The Rape Of Dinah As A Case Study
Author: Robin Parry

Feminist Hermeneutics And Evangelical Concerns:
The Rape Of Dinah As A Case Study

Robin Parry


The article begins by outlining the challenge feminist hermeneutics poses for traditional notions of biblical authority. Genesis 34 is set out as a case study for displaying feminist interpretations that read with the narrator but against patriarchal interpreters and those which read against the narrator himself. I argue that a ‘high view’ of Scripture can accommodate many of the concerns raised by feminist critics of biblical narrative. It is, however, maintained that an evangelical hermeneutic will not easily be able to endorse an interpretation that stands over against the stance of a biblical narrator.1

It is traditionally assumed by evangelical readers of the Bible that the narratives in the OT are ethically beneficial and that a Christian hermeneutic will be primarily a hermeneutic of faith and trust. However, things are not quite as simple as that, and recent feminist critics have been amongst those who have approached the biblical text first and foremost with a hermeneutic of suspicion. They consider the text of the Bible to be both patriarchal and androcentric and thus potentially harmful to women. Many would say that rather than uncritically opening ourselves to be shaped by the stories we ought to expose some of them as oppressive and damaging even if they are, in other ways, liberating. This challenge cuts deeply and simply cannot be ignored. The present article is an attempt to maintain the centrality of the canon in Christian ethics whilst trying to take the problems posed by androcentrism and patriarchy within the Bible seriously. The

following reflections begin and proceed from within a fairly conservative Christian tradition. This interpretative community and its tradition forms the sedimentation upon which I hope that creative interpretative innovation can take place as that tradition comes into dialogue with feminist scholarship.

The focus will be on Genesis 34 but I shall have to set my reflections on that passage within a broader set of considerations. Section I gives a brief introduction to feminist interpretation whilst Section II outlines feminist concerns with Genesis 34 in particular. In Section III, I defend the continuing usefulness of Genesis 34 in Christian ethics whilst attempting to learn important lessons from feminist schools of thought. I believe that although initially feminist hermeneutics of suspicion ...

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