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The Bible and FeminismRemapping the Field$
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Yvonne Sherwood

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198722618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198722618.001.0001

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Another Esther

Another Esther

Sor Juana’s Biblical Self-Portrait

Chapter:
(p.98) Chapter 5 Another Esther
Source:
The Bible and Feminism
Author(s):

Pamela Kirk Rappaport

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198722618.003.0006

This chapter illustrates the appropriation of the figure of Esther in autobiographical texts by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–95), Mexican nun, poet, dramatist, and theologian of Spain’s Golden Age (siglo de oro) to allude to her secret Jewish/converso heritage. Like Esther she advocates for her people, albeit in subtexts, evoking their nobility as well as their plight. Catholic tradition saw Esther anticipating Mary, but Sor Juana suggests the link in reverse: Mary is of the lineage of Esther. Using the language of the Doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, she promotes the purity of blood of the Jewish people. In her autobiographical Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz, she sets herself explicitly as Esther trembling before her friend/critic, the powerful Bishop of Puebla, but also as Christ—beautiful, wise, and marked (señalado) for suffering—and as Peter who denies being ex illis, one of them.

Keywords:   Sor Juana, siglo de oro, conversos, Book of Esther, Immaculate Conception, Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz, Carta Athenagórica

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