AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Looking Back at Lot's Wife: A Reception-Critical Character Study

by Josey Bridges Snyder

Institution: Emory University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Biblical studies; Religion; Comparative religion; Reception; Lot's Wife; Biblical Interpretation
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2063716
Full text PDF: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rpkmc


The story of Lot's wife in Genesis is exceptionally brief: six words narrate the whole (Gen 19:26), with only a few other, passing references to her (Gen 19:15-17). Yet, later interpreters recall her story frequently – and in widely varying ways. Taking a documentary approach, I compare a selection of Jewish, Christina, and Islamic interpretations from antiquity to the Middle Ages and consider how the literary and historical context of each helps account for the differences among them. To aid such comparisons, I organize interpretations chronologically and by religious tradition. After an introductory chapter that outlines my theoretical and methodological approach to reception criticism, I consider interpretations of Lot's wife according to the following chapter divisions: Genesis, Second Temple, early rabbinic, early Christian, Islamic, and medieval Jewish. Within each chapter, I identify both the diversity of interpretations that existed within the given period and the distinctive features that recur. For example, even though significant diversity exists among early Christian and early rabbinic interpreters, I also identify a common pattern, where Christian interpreters tend to vilify Lot's wife for her look back, while early rabbinic interpreters tend to vilify her for varying acts of inhospitality. I then consider how the contexts of each interpreter led to these divergent ways of reading. This study makes a dual contribution to the field of biblical reception. First, through its comprehensive analysis of the diversity of interpretations about Lot's wife in antiquity, this study brings attention to a character that is often overlooked in biblical scholarship and provides a window into the interpretive diversity that existed in antiquity. Second, this study makes the case that investigating the historical and literary contexts of each interpretation is essential to the work of reception criticism, both to understand how interpreters read and to account for the vast interpretive diversity among different readers of the Bible.  –  – Chapter 1: Introduction  – 1.1 Introduction  – 1.2 Ancient Interpretations Provide Context for Modern Interpreters  – 1.3 A Contextual Study of Diverse Interpretations  – 1.3.1 The Text Received  – 1.3.2 Other Texts Received  – 1.3.3 The Document Produced  – 1.4 The Organization of Interpretations by Chronology and Religious Tradition  – 1.4.1 To Investigate the Import of Context  – 1.4.2 To Trace the Development of Traditions  – 1.4.3 To Discern the Impact of Religious Tradition  – 1.5 A Reader-Centered Approach to the Study of Reception  – 1.6 Reception Criticism versus Reception History  – 1.7 Reception of a Biblical Character  – 1.8 The Plan of the Study  – Chapter 2: Lot's Wife in Genesis  – 2.1 Introduction  – 2.2 Sources and Traditions Received by the Authors of Genesis  – 2.3 A Literary Reading: Identifying Gaps and Questions Relevant to a Study of Lot's Wife  – 2.4 Conclusion  – Chapter 3: Lot's Wife in Second Temple Texts  – 3.1 Introduction  – 3.2 Jubilees  – 3.3 Genesis… Advisors/Committee Members: Newsom, Carol A (Committee Member), LeMon, Joel (Committee Member), Robbins, Jill (Committee Member), Gilders, William K (Thesis Advisor).