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A Womanist Reading of Hebrew Bible Narratives as the Politics of Belonging from an Outsider Within : Womanist Readings of Scripture - Vanessa Lovelace

A Womanist Reading of Hebrew Bible Narratives as the Politics of Belonging from an Outsider Within

By: Vanessa Lovelace

Hardcover | 18 June 2024

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The U.S. Declaration of Independence of 1776 decreed that all men were created equal and were endowed by their Creator with "certain unalienable Rights." Yet, U.S.-born free and enslaved Black people were not recognized as citizens with "equal protections under the law" until the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. Even then, White supremacists impeded the equal rights of Black people as citizens due to their beliefs in the inferiority of Black people and that America was a nation for White people. White supremacists turned to biblical passages to lend divine justification for their views. A Womanist Reading of Hebrew Bible Narratives as the Politics of Belonging from an Outsider Within analyzes select biblical narratives, including Noah's curse in Genesis 9; Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 16 and 21; Mother in Israel in Judges 5; and Jezebel, Phoenician Princess and Queen of Israel in 1 and 2 Kings. This analysis demonstrates how these narratives were first used by ancient biblical writers to include some and exclude others as members of the nation of Israel and then appropriated by White supremacists in the antebellum era and the early twentieth century to do the same in America. The book analyzes the simultaneously intersecting and interconnecting dynamics among race, gender, class, and sexuality and biblical narratives to construct boundaries between "us versus them," particularly the politicization of motherhood to deny certain groups' inclusion.

Industry Reviews

A Womanist Reading of Hebrew Bible Narratives as the Politics of Belonging is a vital contribution to biblical studies. Thoroughly researched, carefully argued, and lucidly written, the book adeptly moves between biblical texts and their tangled histories of interpretation, with particular attention to race, gender, and power. Lovelace shows us why these biblical stories matter now, more than ever. A necessary read, not just for womanists and feminists, but for all biblical readers interested in justice, interpretation, and the politics of meaning.

--Rhiannon Graybill, University of Richmond

Dr. Vanessa Lovelace offers a valuable overview of the historical trajectory in the evolution of the term womanist and describes its gradual entrance into Biblical Studies. Then, through a womanist lens, she foregrounds the politics of belonging as a key framework to expose the complexities involved in the reading and interpretation of some biblical stories that emphasize the ideation of motherhood, nation, blackness, slavery, and citizenship. This is a must read for scholars and students who want to expand and deepen their horizons of reflection in the understanding of biblical interpretation and to see the impact of intersectionality (race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.) in the ancient, modern, and contemporary worlds.

--Ahida Calder?n Pilarski, President, Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), Saint Anselm College

Mothers and motherhood have always been political issues, and in this clearly argued book, Lovelace raises up known and little-known biblical mothers and their voices. She pushes us to listen to these biblical women and their modern counterparts by making real-world connections. By centering an intersectional womanist theory of theology, ethics, sociology, and critical race theories, along with womanist lived experiences, Lovelace invites the reader to do a deep dive into often murky waters, and she serves as a competent navigator. Her command of the politics of race in the biblical pasts and the present provides a necessary resource for biblical scholarship and teaching.

--Tina Pippin, Agnes Scott College

This book is a courageous, rich, and intellectually stimulating offering to the growing and expanding literature on womanist readings of the Bible. Lovelace critically analyzes the complexities surrounding the politics of inclusion and belonging as portrayed in select texts in Genesis and Deuteronomistic narratives. Topical and comprehensive, these essays add to our understanding of these select biblical texts and the troubled and sensitive questions surrounding biblical authority, intersectionality, race, gender, motherhood, boundaries, nation, citizenship and belonging when viewed through and in conversation with the history and experience of African American women. The detailed and exhaustive introduction, an overview of womanism and womanist interpretation of the Bible, is informative and extremely helpful. The book is essential reading for scholars and researchers in Hebrew Bible, womanist approaches and hermeneutics, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies.

--Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, University of Divinity, Australia

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