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Why Not Her?

A Form and Literary-Critical Interpretation of the Named and Unnamed Women in the Elijah and Elisha Narratives


Hye Kyung Park

In this book, Hye Kyung Park examines the functions and roles of the women who appear in the Elijah and Elisha narratives. The named and unnamed female characters in the Elijah and Elisha cycles frequently drive the plot of these narratives, giving a voice to important theological, historical, and social concerns that are otherwise overlooked. Consequently, this book elaborates upon the critical meaning of women’s voices through a close interpretation of the roles and functions attributed to women in 1 Kings 17:8–24; 2 Kings 4:8–37, 5, and 8:1–6.
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.

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Chapter Two: The Named Prophets: Elijah and Elisha


← 42 | 43 → CHAPTER TWO

Elijah and Elisha

To discover the status of the unnamed and named women in the Elijah and Elisha traditions, this book begins with the understanding of the former prophets’ traditions. The study of the Elijah and Elisha traditions is an important preliminary procedure required to analyze the roles of the unnamed women, since the unnamed women have relationships with the prophets and impact their prophetic roles in 1 and 2 Kings. Because the prophets are highlighted in the DtrH,1 this book will focus on the scholarship of that history.

Elijah and Elisha appear as prophets in the larger narrative history of Israel through the books of Joshua, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, and 1–2 Kings.2 This large self-contained understanding of the prophets begins in Martin Noth’s theory.

Noth’s 1943 monograph of the DtrH, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien3 is a significant point of reference for literary sequences and historical understanding of texts from Deuteronomy to Second Kings. While the first five books of the Bible are known as the Torah, which includes the religious views on both Israel and the world, ← 43 | 44 → the DtrH has its own intention and purpose for those five books as a “literary entity and unity.”4 Noth theorizes the task of a self-contained whole of the Deuteronomist (hereafter, the Dtr), who was “not merely an editor but the author of a history.”5 In addition, the date of the Dtr is the middle of...

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