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Elusions of Control: Biblical Law on the Words of Women
Jione Havea
SemeiaSt 41
Publication Date
December 2003


Since the utterance of a vow both brings it into existence and makes possible its annulment, how difficult is it for a woman to keep a vow when her father or husband has the right to break it? Intrigued with this question and inspired by the transoceanic experiences of South Pacific islanders, Havea explores the circularity of vow-making and vow-breaking and performs a circumreading, reading around and across legal and narrative biblical texts. From Numbers 30, where women’s vows are regulated, to various narratives where women’s words are monitored, this circumreading exposes the ways in which words elude control and control eludes words within the world of the text and in the very act of reading itself and demonstrates an alternative “transtextual” way to read biblical law.

This book is intended for seminary and doctoral students and scholars interested in women’s vows, in biblical law read around and across biblical narratives, in deconstruction, and in texts read from the perspective of South Pacific island experiences.

Jione Havea is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at United Theological College in North Parramatta, Australia, and at Charles Sturt University, Australia.