Original Research

‘A dangerous and powerful woman?’ – A feminist reading of an old story with new cultural eyes

Doniwen Pietersen
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2422 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2422 | © 2022 Doniwen Pietersen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 November 2021 | Published: 25 April 2022

About the author(s)

Doniwen Pietersen, Department of Old and New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

This article explores the text of Judges 14, which describes the life of a so-called ‘hyper-masculine’ Israelite hero, Samson. However, a careful feminist and socio-historical interpretation of Samson’s character reflects a rather bleak version of an anti-hero. This is based on his behaviour, which was the antithesis to the Israelite ideal of masculinity. When the text is firmly interrogated from a post-modernist (hermeneutic of suspicion) and feminist deconstruction of power texts, it becomes evident that women are not the dangerous betrayers they appear to be. Rather, when this text is read, questions such as who holds actual power and how destructive hyper-masculinity was in patriarchal societies such as ancient Israel emerge. The questions relating to the texts of terror can be useful to critically engage with contemporary society, where personal and social change in treating women equally and justly is sorely needed.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article brings theological discourse into discussion with biblical and feminist studies, hermeneutic studies, ethical studies and practical theology. It also explores the intersections between the texts in the book of Judges from a contemporary cultural context with regard to masculinity oppressing women.


Keywords

culture; Judges 14; heroic literature; post-modernist and feminist deconstruction; modern reading; ‘hyper-masculinity’

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