Why Not Her?
A Form and Literary-Critical Interpretation of the Named and Unnamed Women in the Elijah and Elisha Narratives
These female figures and presences include the Zarephath woman in 1 Kings 17:8–24, twenty-nine third-person feminine verbs to emphasize the Shunammite woman’s frequent appearances in 2 Kings 4:8–37, the Israelite girl as a prophetess in 2 Kings 5, and the Shunammite woman’s return in 2 Kings 8:1–6. Even though the various women in 1 Kings and 2 Kings have not been named throughout the biblical traditions, their presence and actions were crucial for advancing the prophetic narratives concerning Elijah and Elisha. Indeed, the women are crucial to the Elijah and Elisha narratives, both in terms of advancing the plot of the narratives and defining the roles of the prophets presented within.
Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- Advance praise
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Editor’s Preface
- List of Abbreviations
- Chapter One: Methodology
- Form Criticism
- Narrative Criticism
- Chapter Two: The Named Prophets: Elijah and Elisha
- Scholarship on the Deuteronomistic History
- Martin Noth
- American School
- Frank M. Cross
- Richard Nelson
- Gary N. Knoppers
- Göttingen School
- Rudolf Smend
- Walter Dietrich
- Timo Veijola
- Mark O’Brien
- Marvin A. Sweeney
- Scholarship on the Elijah and Elisha Traditions
- Martin Noth
- Alan Hauser
- Steven L. McKenzie
- Marsha C. White
- Susanne Otto
- Chapter Three: The Named Queen: Jezebel in 1 Kings 18, 19, and 21
- Historical Studies on Jezebel
- Jezebel and the DtrH: Why Is She Named?
- Jezebel in 2 Kings 9:30–39
- Feminist Interpretation of Jezebel
- Jezebel as an Israelite Queen
- Jezebel as a Foreign Queen
- Jezebel in 1 Kings 18:1–19:21
- Jezebel and Naboth’s Vineyard in 1 Kings 21
- Chapter Four: The Unnamed Woman 1: The Zarephath Woman, the Foreign Prophetic Announcer, in 1 Kings 17:8–24
- Structure of 1 Kings 17
- Chapter Five: The Unnamed Woman 2: The Shunammite Woman, the Narrative Leader, in 2 Kings 4:8–37
- Historical Studies on the Shunammite Woman
- Rabbinic Tradition
- Feminist Interpretation
- Chapter Six: The Unnamed Woman 3: The Israelite Girl, as the Prophetess, in 2 Kings 5
- Historical Studies on the Naaman Narrative
- Chapter Seven: The Unnamed Woman 4: The Shunammite Woman’s Return in 2 Kings 8:1–6
- Historical Studies on 2 Kings 8:1–6
- Series index
← x | xi → Acknowledgments
This book is a revised version of my doctoral dissertation completed at Claremont Graduate University in the spring of 2011. My deepest gratitude is due to the members of my dissertation committee for their supervision, insightful engagement, and warm-hearted support and encouragement. My profound gratitude goes to Dr. Marvin A. Sweeney, my doctor father, for opening my eyes to the conceptualization of the Hebrew Bible, for encouraging me to share my insights as a Korean woman in my work, and for guiding me with endless support until my efforts finally succeeded. It is difficult for me to find appropriate words to express my great indebtedness for his care in both academic and ministerial guidance. His foundational work in form criticism allowed me to highlight the unnamed women narratives in the Hebrew Bible and helped me to reveal their presence in the modern world.
I am also grateful to Dr. Kristin De Troyer who taught me textual criticism at CGU before moving to the University of St. Andrews. From her, I have learned the techniques for fruitful understandings of texts. She also suggested insightful criticisms in her prompt responses to my drafts. I would like to thank her for all her time and long distance help for me. Dr. Tammi J. Schneider usefully directed me to study ancient Near Eastern literature and history, which formed the basis for my exegetical chapters. I have benefited from her substantive comments on this project and advice on my doctoral program from start to finish. Special thanks ← xi | xii → are due to Dr. Carleen Mandolfo for her passionate participation as a committee member. Her suggestions encouraged me to reshape my methodological thinking and to improve my work for readers in both academic and pastoral settings.
Much gratitude is also due to the faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary, who helped me to seek my pastoral calling which allowed me to become an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church. In addition, this work has begun to sprout from the academic environments at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. My thanks go to my professors at Ewha: Drs. Soon Kyung Park, David Kwang-sun Suh, Won Ki Park, Seung Hee Sohn, Jae Ock Jeon and Sang Chang. I am especially indebted to Dr. Kyung Sook Lee, my graduate advisor at Ewha. She gave me a foundational understanding of biblical theology, which has been the bedrock of my scholarly ability until now.
My studies in the USA were made possible by grants and fellowships from organizations, churches and my friends as well as their spiritual support—Claremont Graduate University, Shin Il Presbyterian Church, Brea Korea United Methodist Church, the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii, the Korean American Scholarship Foundation, the International Foundation for Ewha Womans University, Alameda Korean Presbyterian Church, Jeong Hwan Do, Sung Jeon and Eunjung Felsner. Their support made it easier to concentrate on my studies during the difficult times of my doctoral program. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my English consultants—Fay Ellwood, Caroline Carpenter, Eric Hall, Katie Van Heest, Shayda Kafai, Richard Newton, and Kat Veach in the Writing Center at CGU—and my editor, Genevieve Beenen. Their concentrated efforts helped me to polish my dissertation.
I am also deeply grateful to my colleagues and students at Chan Jung Christian University in Tainan City, Taiwan: Profs. Ya-Tang Chuang, C. S. Song, M. P. Joseph, Po-Ho Hwang, Hui-Chung Tsuang, Chen Huang Li-Chun, Grace Wu, Fu-Ya Wu, Grace Shen, and Pei-Wen Chao. I would like to put on record my gratitude to them for their academic discussions and friendship.
I wish to express my appreciation to Prof. Hemchand Gossai for accepting this work for publication and writing the preface not only for me but also for the unnamed women in the Elijah and Elisha narratives.
Not only have I been fortunate to have world-renowned professors to advise me academically, but also I have enjoyed the support of wonderful friends who shared my successes and helped me through difficult times. Their joyous laughter refreshed my mind and spirit, and always prodded me to move on to the next project.
Last but not least, much appreciation is owed to my family in South Korea and Brazil. I always feel very proud of my parents, the Late Mr. Heum Beom Park and Mrs. Soo Ja Kim, who patiently endured my absence, continuously inspired me, and strongly sustained me throughout my life. The early morning prayer of my ← xii | xiii → mother for me is beyond description. I am also deeply thankful for my two brothers, Yong Seok Park and Yun Seok Park, and their families for their incomparable love and the hilarious joy they give to my parents and me.
All my thanks are due to God. God keeps showing me the right path and always provides me with wonderful people to support me along the way.
Tainan City, Taiwan
Hye Kyung Park← xiii | xiv →
← xiv | xv → Editor’s Preface
More than ever the horizons in biblical literature are being expanded beyond that which is immediately imagined; important new methodological, theological, and hermeneutical directions are being explored, often resulting in significant contributions to the world of biblical scholarship. It is an exciting time for the academy as engagement in biblical studies continues to be heightened.
This series seeks to make available to scholars and institutions, scholarship of a high order, and which will make a significant contribution to the ongoing biblical discourse. This series includes established and innovative directions, covering general and particular areas in biblical study. For every volume considered for this series, we explore the question as to whether the study will push the horizons of biblical scholarship. The answer must be yes for inclusion.
In this volume, Hye Kyung Park explores the role of the women in the Elijah and Elisha narratives. In particular Park is attentive to what she argues is the indispensable role of the unnamed women in these narrative cycles. It is clear from this study that while the central figures in the narratives, namely Elijah and Elisha have been the focus of many studies, the women for the most part have been neglected in scholarly circles. “At the very least, these women confirm the prophetic roles of Elijah and Elisha” (p. 14). In this regard Park uses Form Criticism and Narrative Criticism as a means of identifying and bringing into the foreground of research the roles of these women. The result is a copious and detailed study that will ← xv | xvi → assuredly add to the rich texture of these narratives. This study is certain to generate ongoing discourse, and will not only further expand the biblical horizon, but will do so in a direction that invites further conversation.
The horizon has been expanded.
← xvi | xvii → List of Abbreviations
← xx | 1 → Introduction
This study traces the named and unnamed women of the Elijah and Elisha narratives in the Deuteronomistic History1 (hereafter the DtrH). In so doing, this study will argue that many of the women of the Elijah and Elisha narratives in 1 and 2 Kings were important figures, and that their relationships with both kings and prophets had a significant impact on Israelite history. Using form criticism to examine the heretofore ignored characters within traditional biblical narratives, this study intends to define a new basis for theological and literary interpretation of the Elijah and Elisha narratives with implications for the entire Hebrew Bible. Women’s narratives have already been included by the Israelite traditions. Yet, they have been largely overlooked in DtrH studies. Scholars have consistently highlighted the roles and functions of prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha in the DtrH. Scholars do not focus on women’s roles and functions in the Elijah and Elisha traditions. This study significantly differs from the studies of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha, that focus on the male figures as the primary characters of importance. I argue that it is difficult fully to appreciate the named prophets’ roles without understanding the appearances and purposes of the unnamed women in 1 Kings 17:8–24; 2 Kings 4:8–37, 5 and 8:1–6.
Because Elijah and Elisha are named, their functions and roles have been over-emphasized in the modern story of the biblical traditions. Meanwhile, women’s roles, in particular the roles of those who have not been named, have ← 1 | 2 → failed to attract much notice. Their lack of a name causes them to be regarded as insignificant and therefore to be overlooked and to disappear into the text before their roles have been examined. The unnamed women were treated as not having any functions in the narratives. At the very least, these women confirm the prophetic roles of Elijah and Elisha. Without these women, the prophetic titles are useless. Furthermore, these women sometimes reveal their identities as prophetesses or priestesses in their own narratives. Unlike those scholars who overlook these women when discussing the Elijah and Elisha traditions, I argue that the unnamed women play key roles in these traditions in the DtrH. This book will examine these nameless women in detail.
In order to discover the importance of the unnamed women, it will be necessary to analyze the selected narratives that refer to them by using the methodologies of form criticism and narrative criticism. In this respect, this work highlights the significant results of the two forms of criticism. Scholarly understandings of both the DtrH, and the Elijah and Elisha traditions, provide the background for my selected texts.
The presence of names often initiates and characterizes a given biblical text. The regnal accounts in the books of Kings begin with the king’s name and his reigning years.2 The names function to demarcate the structures of each regnal narrative. In the same way, the named prophets Elijah and Elisha traditionally represent the main characters within their narratives. However, the narratives’ structures and plots depend not only of these named characters. Unnamed characters appear and function at key points to drive the narratives; it is these characters that reveal the theological understanding between God and the named characters.
- XX, 291
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2015 (August)
- 1 Kings 17:8 zarepath shunammite
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. XX, 291 pp.