The book of Deuteronomy is not an orphan. It belongs to a diverse family of legal traditions and cultures in the world of the Bible. The Social World of Deuteronomy: A New Feminist Commentary brings these traditions and cultures to life, and uses them to enrich our understanding and appreciation of Deuteronomy today. Benjamin uses social-scientific criticism to reconstruct the social institutions where Deuteronomy developed, and those that appear in its traditions. He uses feminist criticism to better understand and appreciate how powerful elite males in Deuteronomy view not only the women, mothers, wives, and widows in their households but also their powerless children, liminal people, slaves, prisoners, outsiders, livestock, and nature. Benjamin also uses feminist criticism to describe important aspects of the daily lives of these often overlooked peoples in ancient Israel. How the elite males in Deuteronomy view the women and other members of their households seldom reflects the underlying reality of how these women and others function. ""The Social World of Deuteronomy is a rich--and enriching--book, suitable for all interested in the topic. It is not powerful male voices that Benjamin intends for us to hear, but rather the 'still small voices' of the poor and marginalized--women, children, the ill, the disabled, and other liminal people, slaves, prisoners, outsiders, livestock, and nature (1:9-18; 20:10-20). Commentary on texts and units, read primarily from the perspectives of liberation theology and feminist criticism, are enhanced by two regular practices: (1) reflections of fourteen or so 'contributors' whose stimulating insights (mostly published, some not) add unforgettable perspectives, and (2) bolded footnotes of 'Further Reading' on selected topics (listed in parentheses). Interpretation is a splendidly communal act in the hands of Don C. Benjamin, who empowers and authorizes good skills and open hearts. If I were teaching Deuteronomy, this book would be required."" --Toni Craven, Emerita Professor of Hebrew Bible, Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University ""Benjamin brings together his knowledge of archaeology, ancient cultures, biblical studies, and feminist scholarship, and the results are enlightening and thought-provoking. Throughout, Benjamin pays special attention to how women may have influenced key Deuteronomic traditions. While acknowledging the influence of patriarchy, Benjamin offers interpretations that grant a higher social status to women than a superficial reading might suggest. The overall effect is a well-rounded description of the milieu in which Deuteronomy's authors produced their work."" --Bruce Wells, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Joseph's University (Philadelphia) ""Don Benjamin has provided a groundbreaking study of Deuteronomy that makes great strides in the study of the social context of this reform-minded book of the Pentateuch. Drawing upon the works and words of a wide variety of scholars, he shows readers important social dimensions of Deuteronomy such as gender roles in ancient Israel and Judah, covenant and legal traditions, household organization, the preparation and content of meals, the attempts to address the needs of the poor, women, Levites, and other disadvantaged groups, and the responsibilities of the fathers as the heads of households to ensure the welfare of their society. Benjamin's volume points to the importance of Deuteronomy for understanding our contemporary social world as well. A highly recommended work for students, clergy, and scholars."" --Marvin A. Sweeney, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Claremont School of Theology, Professor of Tanak, Academy for Jewish Religion, California Don C. Benjamin teaches biblical and Near Eastern Studies at Arizona State University (Tempe campus). He is also the author of Deuteronomy and City Life and the chapter on Deuteronomy for the forthcoming Jerome Biblical Commentary. He is also editor of t
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