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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 255 Reviews "WHY ASK MY NAME?" ANONYMITY AND IDENTITY IN BIBLICAL NARRATIVE. By Adele Reinhartz. pp. xii + 226. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. Cloth, $39.95. Adele Reinhartz's study of unnamed characters in Hebrew Bible narrative serves two purposes: to introduce these diverse figures to other readers of biblical narrative and to explore the interplay between anonymity and identity initiated in the reader's encounter with the unnamed. Three features of this interplay are taken into account by Reinhartz: the ways in which anonymity veils or effaces identity in characters; the ways in which identity of the anonymous emerges nevertheless; the ways in which anonymity blurs boundaries (she explores the permeability of identity among unnamed characters, between named and unnamed, between human and divine , between angels and God, and between reader and text). Among the unnamed biblical characters encountered in Reinhartz's book are bit players (including personal attendants and purveyors of information); characters defmed by their roles; female characters whose portrayal tests the boundaries of their stereotypical roles of wife, mother, and daughter; and inhabitants of the heavenly realm, among others. Methodically, Reinhartz surveys the variety of unnamed characters in Hebrew Bible narrative and classifies them. She explores the many shapes anonymity takes, the different functions that these serve, and the affect anonymity has on identity among unnamed characters. Type by type, passage by passage, she thoroughly explores anonymity and identity. This reader certainly benefited from her engagement with Reinhartz's exploration of the unnamed. Reinhartz's work is informed by postmodem literary theory, especially by Thomas Docherty's Reading (Absent) Character : Towards a Theory o!Characterization in Fiction. She uses theory to aid her reading of biblical narrative and to explore new perspectives. The focus of her reading remains on the unnamed characters as they are portrayed in narrative contexts. She enters into the narrative and encounters the characters as much as the gap between text and reader allows. Letting the text speak has traditionally been an important goal of biblical exegesis and Reinhartz's use of postmodem literary theory enables her to honor this goal. Reinhartz's work is a good example of the use of theory as a tool and not as an end in itself. It is clear as well that she has done detailed reading in the Hebrew and is conversant with other biblical interpreters' encounters with these characters and narratives. Thus, she has built a "safeguard" Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 256 Reviews around her interpretation (a step that Jacques Derrida recommends; see his Limited Inc., 1988, p. 141). "Why Ask My Name?" addresses questions that this reader has pondered , such as how some anonymous chamcters in the Hebrew Bible manage to linger in the reader's mind, long after an encounter with the narrative . Their identity comes through, even in that interplay with anonymity. Reinhartz explores this as well as how anonymity manages to destabilize chamcter, certainly an important issue. lbrough Reinhartz's detailed analysis of the presence of anonymity she shows anonymity to be something more than the monolithic existence of unnamed chamcters in Hebrew narrative . lbrough her patient, detailed exposition she shows anonymity to be a multi-faceted phenomenon with sophisticated nuances in individual passages . The book remains very accessible and readable throughout. Postmodemists and more traditional exegetes alike will find much of value in Reinhartz's work. Sarah J. Melcher Xavier University Cincinnati, OH 45207 melcher@xavier.xu.edu WOMAN AT THE WINDOW: BIBLICAL TALES OF OPPRESSION AND ESCAPE. By Nehama Aschkenasy. Pp. 181. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1998. Cloth. $39.95. Paper, $18.95. Using the image of the woman at the window as her keystone, Nehama Aschkenasy provides an interesting new look at pamdigmatic stories of female chamcters in the biblical text. Her stated intent is not to examine these tales from a "women's perspective," but to examine the meaning of these texts within the larger biblical context. In doing so, she first establishes the historical context of the metaphor of the woman at the window, and then explores its implications in her selected interpretive readings of biblical texts. The introduction explains the metaphor. Referring to the famous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 255-256
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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