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Reading the Book of Isaiah as One Book from Queer-Feminist Perspectives

Yoo,YeonHee(Yani) 1

1감리교신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay reads Isaiah as a unified book from queer-feminist perspectives. The relationship between feminist theory and queer theory is dealt with in the methodology section and biblical queer criticism and its strategies are introduced. In the main body of the essay metaphors of women and sexual violence against women and the problem of metaphors are discussed. Inclusio of women images in the first and last chapters and a woman’ life of Daughter Zion-Wife/Woman-Mother offers unity to the book. It is argued that Zion’s fluid and queer identity penetrates throughout the book of Isaiah. Ample gender fluid images in the book of Isaiah are observed. Gender reversals are found in the metaphors of ‘men in labor’ (13:8; 26:16-19; 37:3; 45:10; 21:3; 42:14). The marriage/couple metaphor (54:5; 62:5) feminizes Israel, which is assumed to be male. Daughter Zion (37:22-29; 52:1-2) like a man despises and laughs at Sennacherib, defying ‘feminine’ gender performance. ‘The suffering woman servant’ (chapters 49-54) can be seen as a gender reversal version of ‘the suffering man servant.’ Yahweh, a character constructed by the text, is a warrior, mother, and midwife who goes between the two poles of masculinity and femininity. Polyamory (5:1–11) among Isaiah, Yahweh, and Israel, homoeroticism and same-sex marriage (61:10) between the prophet and Yahweh, Yahweh’s fetishism (3:17–23), and the recognition of ambiguous sex (56:3-5) are observed. In addition, the family with two mothers (49:15, 21; 66:13), the celebration of the childless (54:1), the marriage of Yahweh and two wives (62:4), and the expression, ‘your marriage to your sons’ (62:5) break the ‘normal family’ frame. Although the book of Isaiah was completed through many years of writing and editing, it did not limit the relationship between God and Israel to heteronormative metaphors. The book’s elastic and complex gender images for characters help us read it as a unified one.

Citation status

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

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.