• Gendering Sarai: Reading Beyond Cisnormativity in Genesis 11:29–12:20 and 20:1–18

    Author(s):
    Jo Henderson-Merrygold (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Group(s):
    Biblical Studies, Gender Studies, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, LGBTQ Studies, Religious Studies
    Subject(s):
    Biblical interpretation, LGBTQ Studies, Hebrew bible, Queer and gender studies, Hermeneutics
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Transgender, Biblical Hermeneutics, cisnormativity, Genesis, reader-response
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/h97v-h230
    Abstract:
    This article explores the way assumptions about gender prevalent in twenty-first century readers impact our understanding of Sarai. It interrogates the way a mere glimpse allows us to instantaneously assign a person gender, something trans theorist Julia Serano calls gendering. Through this article, we see how the third-party accounts of Sarai in Genesis 11:19–12:20 parallel the experience of that introductory glance today. By undertaking a close reading, different themes emerge that work to both confirm and challenge her fit within dominant gender norms. Indeed, Sarai cannot easily be subsumed into cisnormative gender expectations that privilege consistent coherence between the sex assigned at birth and gender identity and expression. Genesis 20:1–20 is then placed in discussion with the earlier portion of Sarai’s story. It provides the opportunity to revisit how observers within the text see and understand her. In turn new details emerge that seek to confirm Sarai’s fit within cisnormativity; but in doing so, they end up disrupting our perception that Sarai is a cisnormative woman. Ultimately, this reading establishes that Sarai does not neatly fit our preconceptions, which opens up the potential to consider her a transgender or a gender-diverse figure.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    11 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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