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Is Hagar the Weak or the Victim?

Il Seung Chung 1

1중앙신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purpose of the present study is to examine the characterization of Hagar in the book of Genesis and offer a favorable reading of the Hagar story as a corrective to the usual negative readings. Traditional critics interpreted the Hagar story as a story of intrusion, a story of Abraham who strayed from God's plan and failed to trust God's promise. Feminist critics interpreted Hagar as a victim who experiences use, abuse and rejection. The present study revisits these negative perceptions of Hagar and retells the tale of Hagar in the narrative context. The present study intends to counterbalance this generally negative view of Hagar by emphasizing the full potential in Genesis for a positive and favorable reading of Hagar by examining Hagar's type-scenes, geography, and her narrative role as Abraham's wife compared with that of Sarah. Where more positive readings of Hagar are suggested, this is not necessarily a claim that such readings are to be adopted, but rather to demonstrate that the negative interpretations are not the only option. The lack of discussion of these options in the interpretative tradition supports the argument that negative interpretations of Hagar do not originate from the depiction of Hagar in Genesis text itself but are derived from the biases of contemporary interpreters against Hagar as the obstacle to God's promise or the victim. After the careful scrutiny of the Hagar narrative, it is concluded that Hagar is a significant and heroic character who shares narrative motifs and type-scenes with Abraham. Hagar is neither the weak nor the victim. She is an Egyptian matriarch, a woman placed among the ranks of the patriarchs, who was favored by Abraham and receives God's promise and blessings.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.