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Writing the WrongsWomen of the Old Testament among Biblical Commentators from Philo through the Reformation$
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John L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195137361.001.0001

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Hagar: Abraham's Wife and Exile

Hagar: Abraham's Wife and Exile

(p.17) 1 Hagar: Abraham's Wife and Exile
Writing the Wrongs

John L. Thompson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Hagar has been remembered by feminist biblical critics as the distinguished recipient of divine rescues and visions, but also as Sarah's hapless surrogate and Abraham's abandoned concubine. Although the allegorical disparagement of Hagar in Galatians 4 might be expected to prejudice the way early Christian readers portrayed her, patristic and early medieval readings transformed the allegorical Hagar by describing her more explicitly and more sympathetically in terms of the same “historical” details of Genesis 16 and 21 that are often noticed by feminist readers. Later medieval and rabbinic accounts focused increasingly on the ethical problems of the text, so that Reformation commentators – transcending their regular use of gender stereotypes – displayed an intense and sometimes even passionate interest in Hagar's sufferings.

Keywords:   Abraham, allegory, feminist exegesis, Galatians, Genesis, Hagar, precritical interpretation, Sarah

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