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“Where is Sarah Your Wife?” Cultural Poetics of Gender and Nationhood in the Hebrew Bible*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2011

Don Seeman
Affiliation:
Harvard University

Extract

William Robertson Smith wrote in 1885 that the biblical convention whereby aman is said to “go in” to his bride represents a linguistic trace ofonce widespread “beena marriage,” in which men joined the natal households of the women who took them as husbands. It was an error of literalist reductionism, but one that lent support to an imposing infrastructure of systematic kinship theory and evolutionism that continues to excercise an influenceon some contemporary scholars. Another way of saying this is that Robertson Smith failed to recognize a significant biblical metaphor—that of men enteringwomen's tents—when he saw one. This misapprehension of biblical poetics has had important consequences for the way in which he and his successors have interpreted the Hebrew Bible.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 1998

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