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Title: A hammer for shattering rock : employing classical rabbinic hermeneutics to fashion contemporary feminist commentary on the Bible
Author: Kahn-Harris, Deborah
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 9226
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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What kind of reader of the Bible am I? This question is at the core of my research. I am a woman; I am a rabbi; I identify with a 'progressive' Jewish movement; I view the Bible as a source of religious guidance. These identities are among the many that affect the way in which I read the Bible. This thesis has its origins in the apparent tension between contemporary feminist Bible criticism and classical rabbinic interpretations. Feminist biblical critics adopt a range of methodological positions, drawing on important developments in reading texts that have taken place over the last century, such as deconstruction and post-structuralism. Classical rabbinic sources are concerned with the questions of the (male) rabbis. For Halachic sources, the rabbis employed a set of hermeneutical principles to delineate the ways in which biblical sources could be interpreted. For Aggadah, a more extensive set of hermeneutics was employed to create midrashic texts. Some feminist scholars have read Halachah and Aggadah using various techniques; e.g., hermeneutics of suspicion, reclamation, apologetics. The project of trying to combine the hermeneutics of the classical rabbinic period with contemporary feminist readings has only been undertaken in Halachah by one scholar, Rachel Adler, writing about the Jewish wedding service. No one yet has attempted to engage in this project with Aggadah. This thesis develops a hermeneutic based in classical rabbinic hermeneutics and feminist theory to expound three short units of biblical text: Lamentations 5: 19-22, Genesis 1 :26-28, and Psalm 131. Each chapter studies these verses in detail, reviewing their interpretation in modern and classical Jewish sources, followed my own midrashim rooted in my hybrid ii hermeneutic. Finally, this thesis examines the value of this exercise and to what extent it might serve, alongside the work of other scholars in Halachah, to form a basis for a biblical-based, feminist, Jewish, progressive theology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available