Gender, Power, and Persuasion: The Genesis Narratives and Contemporary Portraits
by Mignon R. Jacobs
Baker Academic, 2007
272 pages (paperback)
Is power contingent upon one’s gender? In Gender, Power, and Persuasion, Fuller Seminary professor, Mignon R. Jacobs examines the human-human and divine-human relationships in the Genesis narrative to find out. If one defines power as “the ability to effect change and exercise choices,” then gender, as she concludes, “is not an indicator of power or weakness.” This comes out clearly in her look at Sarah and Hagar. Sarah is marginalized when Abraham gives her to pharaoh, and Hagar is marginalized when Sarah gives her to Abraham. Upon pregnancy, Hagar’s new status as “wife” appears to shift power in her direction, leading to Sarah’s jealousy and move (as first wife) to persuade Abraham to exile Hagar. The deity is biased and willing to work within both heavenly and earthly domains, colluding with Sarah’s wishes to accomplish his goals for Abraham, being clearly “on the side of the oppressors.” This book could serve as a text for discussion on gender and religion and offers significant challenges to traditional views of gender and power. Her chapter on Adam and Eve was particularly interesting in this way. There is evidence of needing further editing, particularly as it appears to have some cumbersome repetition; repetition which also appears to be a part of her strength, that is, her thorough and insightful consideration of the narrative.