According to Kelso, the Book of Chronicles silences women in specific ways, most radically through their association with maternity. Drawing on the work of two feminist philosophers, Luce Irigaray and Michelle Boulous Walker, she argues that we may discern two principal strategies of silencing women in Chronicles: disavowal and repression of the maternal body. In its simplest form, the silencing of women takes place through both an explicit and implicit strategy of excluding them from the central action. Largely banished from the central action, they are hardly able to contribute to the production of Israel s past. On a more complex level, however, women are most effectively silenced through their association with maternity, because the maternal body is both disavowed and repressed in Chronicles. The association of women with maternity, along with the disavowal and repression of the maternal body as origin of the masculine subject, effects and guarantees the silence of the feminine, enabling man to imagine himself as sole producer of his world. These strategies of silencing the feminine need to be understood in relation to the relative absence of women from the narrative world of Chronicles. Kelso argues that Chronicles depends on the absence and silence of women for its imaginary coherence. This argument is enabled by Irigarayan theory. But more importantly, Kelso suggests that Irigaray also offers us a viable mode (not method) of reading, writing, listening, and speaking as woman (whatever that might mean), in relation to the so-called origins of western culture, specifically the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. She argues that Irigaray enables a not only rigorous, feminist critique of patriarchy and its many texts, but also, somewhat more charitably, a mode of reading that enables women to read the past differently, seeking out what remains to be discovered, especially the forgotten future in the past.
Julie Kelso is Honorary Research Advisor for the Centre for the Research on Women, Gender, Culture and Social Change in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland.
"A fascinating example of Irigarayan commentary. It is successful in demonstrating how the text can be opened up to new meanings by approaching it in this way, by both exposing its masculinist omissions and, most significantly, by giving voice to the silenced." - Biblical Interpretation "This books offers stimulating, creative and fruitful investigations into the book of Chronicles that benefit from the feminist-theoretical grounding in Irigaray's work." - Review of Biblical Literature "This is an important book, one I hope will be much read and discussed." - Journal of Hebrew Scriptures "Her decisive move away from the standard historical-critical questions of authorship, date, sources and text is refreshing and a welcome reminder that we can gain insight into the Bible in depth and in detail with radically different modes of reading." - The Bible and Critical Theory "Though the book is sharply at odds with most traditional scholarship, it is clear that K. is familiar with more conventional male-centred approaches to the biblical material. I started having never heard of Irigaray; reading this work - heavy going at times but always thought-provoking - has, I hope, widened my horizons." - JSOT