This article explores Shirley Kaufman’s reading of the Bible as an elaboration on/of its feminine characters via three devices: (a) Dramatic monologues, in which the woman speaks for herself (“Rebecca” and “Leah”); (b) description of specific scenes that gives us a glimpse into the character’s point of view (“His Wife”, “Michal”, “Abishag”, “The Wife of Moses”, “Yael”, and “Job’s Wife”); and (c) interweaving of the biblical context into contemporary reality (“Déjà Vu” and “The Death of Rachel”). Fleshing these figures out, Kaufman portrays the biblical women through contemporary lenses as a way of “coming to terms with the past” and the historical exclusion of “women’s bodies” from Jewish tradition, thereby giving them a voice and “afterlife”. Her treatment of the biblical texts can thus be viewed as belonging to the new midrashic-poetry tradition by Jewish-American women that has emerged as part of the Jewish feminist wave. Herein, Kaufman follows Adrienne Rich and Alicia Ostriker’s “re-visioning” of the Bible and in particularly its women, empowering them by making use of her/their own words.
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