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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Matriarchs of Genesis: Seven Women, Five Views
Zucker, David J. and Moshe Reiss

Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015 pp. xiii + 267. $32.00


Description: Sarah. Hagar. Rebekah. Leah. Rachel. Bilhah. Zilpah. These are the Matriarchs of Genesis. A people's self-understanding is fashioned on their heroes and heroines. Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel--the traditional four Matriarchs--are important and powerful people in the book of Genesis. Each woman plays her part in her generation. She interacts with and advises her husband, seeking to achieve both present and future successes for her family. These women act decisively at crucial points; through their actions and words, their family dynamics change irrevocably. Unlike their husbands, we know little of their unspoken thoughts or actions. What the text in Genesis does share shows that these women are perceptive and judicious, often seeing the grand scheme with clarity. While their stories are told in Genesis, in the post-biblical world of the Pseudepigrapha, their stories are retold in new ways. The rabbis also speak of these women, and contemporary scholars and feminists continue to explore the Matriarchs in Genesis and later literature. Using extensive quotations, we present these women through five lenses: the Bible, Early Extra-Biblical Literature, Rabbinic Literature, Contemporary Scholarship, and Feminist Thought. In addition, we consider Hagar, Abraham's second wife and the mother of Ishmael, as well as Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob's third and fourth wives.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Pseudepigrapha, Mishnah, Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Ideological Critique, Feminist Approaches, History of Interpretation

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Review by Robin Gallaher Branch
Published 12/22/2016
Citation: Robin Gallaher Branch, review of David J. Zucker and Moshe Reiss, The Matriarchs of Genesis: Seven Women, Five Views, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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