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Parallel Lines


Lethal Love: Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories

Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987

back cover text:

‘Lethal Love’ is, in Mieke Bal’s words, ‘first and foremost a study of biblical love stories and how we read them.’ Bal reads five familiar love stories from the Bible - David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, Ruth and Boaz, Judah and Tamar, and Adam and Eve - differently. In the past, readings of these stories have represented woman’s love as lethal - women are victimizers to be avoided lest one be killed by their love. Bal calls into question these interpretations of the past, revealing a patriarchal ideology of interpretation that has dominated.

Borrowing interpretive tools from semiotics and psychoanalysis, Bal deconstructs this dominant ideology by stressing the different - the multivalent, heterogeneous meanings possible when one pays close attention to the text. Her powerful, exciting interpretations resonate deeply and raise new possibilities for the ways we read the love stories of the Bible.

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