Is it possible to hear women prophets’ utterances embedded within lyrics of prophetic books? If so, women prophets should be represented as implied composers along with men. A few scholars have raised this question, yet a clear method for discerning women’s voices – apart from feminine grammatical forms, genres used, and women’s perspectives – has not been offered.
This study offers a reliable method, based on the sound patterns of lyrical Hebrew. It discerns a consistent, clear signature of women’s composing more broadly, and a different signature of men’s composing, across all lyrical genres and historical periods. This methodological key, when turned, unlocks and throws open a window on a significant women’s Hebraic composing tradition, resounding in texts where women’s voices are attributed, and where they are unattributed.
There are also surprising ramifications here for the biblical narratives composed by women and rooted in oral tradition. Integrating indigenous cultural, postcolonial, feminist, and oral poetic approaches, this inquiry moves past closed doors of previous suppositions, including that ancient Israel was simply patriarchal. It also brings a new appreciation of the practice of female and male prophets lyricising in partnership, in an indigenous culture in which women, individually or as a group, were not always given credit for their contributions.
Part 1: Unnamed Women Prophets in Monarchic Israel
1. Listening for Hannevî’ah in First Isaiah and a Women’s Lyrical Tradition
2. A Woman Prophet in the Book of Micah?
Part 2: Named Women Prophets in Premonarchic Israel: Seers and Singers
3. Miriam and the Song of the Sea
4. Deborah and Judges
Part 3: Named and Unnamed Women Prophets from the Seventh Century through the Exilic and Postexilic Periods
5. Huldah and 2 Kings 22
6. Texts in the Book of Jeremiah
7. Texts in the Book of Lamentations
8. Texts in Isaiah 40-55
Index of Subjects and Authors
Index of Ancient Documents
Endorsements and Reviews
I know of no one in our discipline who pays such close and sustained attention to the detail of the text as does Nancy Lee. In a culture of rushed reading and skimming of texts, Lee shows us the immense gain in slowing down. I anticipate that this book will evoke a fresh wave of scholarship among those who take the text seriously.
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
Through a sophisticated use of a contemporary scholarly technique and a close reading of the Hebrew text, Lee uncovers distinctive poetic patterns in women’s voices in contrast to men’s voices. … I have read these texts all my life but I did not see these patterns until Professor Lee identified them.
Rabbi Steven Bob, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Etz Chaim, author of Go to Nineveh and Jonah and the Meaning of Our Lives