Date of Award

8-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Catherine Grisé

Language

English

Abstract

Using Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, India Edghill's Queenmaker Margaret George's Mary, Called Magdalene, whose texts recreate/re-envision the lives of Dinah, Michal, and Mary Magdalene respectively, this project focuses on fictional portraits of biblical women who are either silent or whose histories are relayed, possibly inaccurately, in the original biblical accounts. The development of this popular sub genre of historical fiction can be viewed as part of the tradition of feminist biblical scholarship, which focuses on the examination of biblical women and their experiences and identities, the omission of women as narrators in the Bible canon, and the subsequent position of women in the church and in other social structures.
My research indicates that there exist two opposing bodies of feminist biblical critics: on one side there are the 'rejectionist' feminists who argue that the Bible is the handbook of patriarchy and that, consequently, its theological traditions must be rejected by women. On the other side there are the 'reinterpretationist' feminists who refuse to give up on the authoritarian and liberating power of the Scriptures and insist that, through reinterpretation, women can be empowered by the Bible. Throughout my consideration of fictional re-imaginings of Bible women's histories, including the ways in which these novels re-present female knowledge and power, I consistently address the need for a negotiation between the rejectionist and reinterpretationist paradigms that resolves their individual inherent inadequacies. My project asserts that rewriting biblical histories using the genre of the novel enables theorists to transcend the boundaries and limitations imposed on the discipline by the contrasting theoretical paradigms and create a third, hybridized approach to critiquing the Bible from a feminist perspective that both rejects and reinterprets biblical narratives.
My project focuses on the theoretical function of revisionary novels in feminist biblical scholarship, although it invites a further consideration of the valuable stake that these novels might claim in the wider arena of theological discourse.

McMaster University Library

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