Lethal Love

Lethal Love

Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories
Mieke Bal
Distribution: World
Publication date: 08/22/1987
ISBN: 978-0-253-11590-4
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Winner of 1991 Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award: Best Books Relating to the Old Testament

Particularly valuable in recognizing the many human processes that converge in composition and interpretation, with a lethal effect upon the dignity and role of women." —The Bible Today

... extraordinarily vital... engaging and daunting... " —Society for Old Testament Study Book List

Bal’s readings are strong and original... they are bound to receive enduring attention." —Journal of Religion

Bal reads five familiar love stories from the Bible, including David and Bathsheba and Samson and Delilah, differently. In the past, readings of these stories have represented woman’s love as lethal, women as victimizers to be avoided lest one be killed by their love. Bal questions these interpretations and reveals a dominant patriarchal ideology of interpretation.

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Table of Contents


1. The Emergence of the Lethal Woman, or the Use of Hermeneutic Models
Pregnancy and the Limits of Power
The Use of Interpretation
The Use of Form
The Use of Frame-Theory
The Use of Narratology
The Use of the Text
The Use of Symmetry
The Use of Frames
The Use of the Subject
The Use of Competition

2. Delilah Decomposed: Samson’s Talking Cure
and the Thetoric of Subjectivity
Reading Heroes
Questions Asked and Problems Revealed
The Emergence of the Hero
Samson and Delilah
Samson’s Death
Who Is Samson?
Samson, Patriarchy, and Social Reality

3. Heroism and Proper Names, or the Fruits of Analogy
Balancing the Tension
Starting from a Detail
Narrativization of the Proper Name
In Search of the Subject
In Search of Foundations, or the Subjects versus the Law
The Unconscious Performing Speech Acts: Symptoms Reflecting Reflection

4.One Woman, Many Men, and the Dialectic of Chronology
The Limits of Higher Criticism
On the Margins of Anachrony: Paralepsis, or the Deviation from the Straight Path
Tamar from Father to Son, or On Subversion
Juxtaposition, or Similarity behind Displacement
Onan’s Offspring, or How to Conceive Safely
Tamar’s Matchmaking: The Mirror Stage

5. Sexuality, Sin, and Sorrow: The Emergence of the Female Character
Characterizing Character
The Emergence of a Myth: Collocation
The Emergence of the Human Body: Unaccomplishment
The Emergence of the Female Body: Sexual Difference
The Emergence of Activity: Sin?
The Emergence of Character: Sorrow
The Effect of Naming