Jewish and Islamic Religious Feminist Exegesis of the Sacred Books: Adam, Woman and Gender
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 29, Spring 5776/2015
- pp. 56-80
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- Additional Information
From the 1970s and 1980s, Jewish and Islamic religious feminists—diverging from earlier Jewish and Muslim feminists—undertook to reinterpret problematic and even misogynistic narratives and verses in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran. Comparative analysis of their feminist exegesis of the creation story reveals some remarkable similarities in purpose, method and even results. Religious feminist re-interpretation of the parallel phrases in the holy books defining gender—“he shall rule (yimshol) over you” (Gen. 3:16) and “Men are in charge (qawwāmūna) of women” (Quran 4:34)—has been undertaken with innovative, dynamic methodologies, along with grounding in “tradition.” The term qawwāmūn seems far more salient to contemporary Muslims, however, than yimshol is to Jews. Jewish and Islamic religious feminist exegetes have engaged similar language issues, strategies, some methods and use of secondary sources, but the innovative methodologies that they have fashioned are dissimilar. In conclusion, I shall highlight some differences between Jewish and Islamic feminist exegetes relating to their background and environment, as well as to the significance of the creation story and the gender phrase for their lives. I shall also point to some innovations in interpretative methods and some consequences of their endeavors.