A socio-rhetorical interpretation of Genesis 1-3 from a Korean female perspective

Lee, Soon-Im (2002-03)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2002

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Traditionally, Gen 1-3 has been interpreted as a text that supports male superiority and female inferiority as the will of God. This dissertation aims to establish a more constructive interpretation one that is more responsible and accountable to the readers of the Korean Presbyterian Church in particular. Consequently, I have dealt with various interpretations ofGen 1-3 from male and female perspectives. Because the mam Korean religions of pre-Christianity (Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism) have been identified as possible major influential elements that would have had an impact on Korean male centred interpretations of Gen 1-3, this study begins by analysing Korean worldviews and their influence on the formation of the theological tradition in the KPc. These elements are then investigated in terms of the significant impact they had upon the interpretation of Gen 1-3 in the KPC and this demonstrates how an individual view of the Scriptures could bring about different results within the KPC itself. An alternative interpretation of Gen 1-3 from a feminist perspective is discussed as part of the solution to promote justice for female readers. Although feminist readings would reduce the oppression of female readers, we analyse how another possibility of oppression, directly opposed to female oppression, could arise. To avoid another biased interpretation of Gen 1-3 ant to establish an interpretation of Gen 1-3 that is more ethically accountable to both genders, an attempt is made to read the text by means of a method that has an interdisciplinary nature in terms of dealing with the text. The socio-rhetorical criticism of Vernon Robbins is chosen and inner, and inter-, ideological and theological textures of Gen 1 are identified. Although the Creation texts exhibit their cultural connection, a socio-rhetorical reading of Gen 1 is not concerned with a specific order for man and woman in God's creation. Therefore, a sexual distinction based on some ethical status or role is not found. Instead, Gen 1 describes not only the relationship between God and human beings, but also the relationship of human beings to the other orders of creation. The concept of the divine image applied in the biological terms, male and female offers no theological indication for the present social consequences. Rather it invites us to open ourselves to possible new meanings beyond any cultural boundaries. Gen 1 within the present context challenges the interpreter as well as the reader to selfcritical activity in reading or interpreting the text in his/her own context. This is so because Scripture has allowed diversity, and the text of Gen 1 created a new meaning for the readers of the exilic society as Gen 2-3 did for the readers of the original cultures reflected in the Scriptures. Therefore, the KPC also needs to be challenged to look at the relationship of male and female anew and to be invited to be a partner in restoring the lost half of the dignity of the image of God for humanity. If exile for the Jewish people signified a calling into question of their secure centres of meaning as the people of God, our traditional Christian way of viewing the nature of God and of humankind should equally be called into question in our present context.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Genesis 1 is tradisioneel geinterpreteer as 'n teks wat die meerderwaardigheid van mans en die rninderwaardigheid van vroue ondersteun as die wil van God. Hierdie proefskrif het ten doel om 'n meer konstruktiewe interpretasie daar te stel. 'n Interpretasie wat meer verantwoordelik en verantwoordbaar teenoor die lesers is, veral binne die Koreaanse Presbiteriaanse Kerk (KPK). Gevolglik het ek aandag gegee aan verkeie interpretasies van Genesis 1-3. Interpretasies vanuit manlike sowel as vroulike perspektiewe. Aangesien die belangrikste Koreaanse religiee van die pre-Christen tydperk (Sjamanisme, Boeddhisme, Confucianisme) geidentifiseer is as moontlik belangrike, invloederyke elemente wat 'n invloed gehad het op die manlik gesentreerde interpretasie van Genesis 1-3, begin hierdie studie met die analisering van Koreaanse wereldbeelde en die invloed daarvan op die formasie van die teologiese tradisie binne die KPK. Hierdie elemente word dan ondersoek in terme van die belangrike impak wat dit gehad het op die interpretasie van Genesis 1-3 binne de KPK en dit demonstreer hoe 'n individuele beskouing van die Skrif verskillende resultate binne die KPK self teweeg kan bring. 'n Alternatiewe interpretasie van Genesis 1-3, vanuit 'n ferninistiese perspektief, word bespreek as deel van die oplossing om geregtigheid vir vroue lesers te bevorder. Hoewel 'n feministiese lees die onderdrukking van vroue lesers sal verrninder, word ook· geanaliseer hoe 'n ander moontlikheid van onderdrukking, direk gekant teen die vroulike onderdrukking, kan ontstaan. Ten einde nog 'n bevooroordeelde interpretasie van Genesis 1-3 te vermy en om 'n interpretasie daar te stel wat meer eties verantwoordbaar is vir beide geslagte, word 'n poging aangewend om die teks te lees by wyse van 'n metode wat inter-dissipliner van aard is in die interpretasie van die teks. Die sosio-retoriese kritiek van Vernon Robbins word gekies en 'n intra-, inter-, ideologiese en teologiese tekstuur van Genesis 1 word gerdentifiseer. Hoewel die skeppingstekste hulle kulturele verbintenis ten toon stel, setel die belang van 'n sosio-retoriese lees van Gen 1 nie by 'n bepaalde orde vir man en vrou in God se skepping. Om hierdie rede word 'n geslagtelike onderskeid, gebasseer op etiese status of rol, nie in die teks gevind nie. Eerder, Genesis 1 beskryf nie net die verhouding tussen God en mense nie, maar ook die verhouding van menslike wesens tot die ander ordes van die skepping. Die konsep van die goddelike beeld, toegepas in biologiese terme, bied manlik en vroulik geen teologiese aanduiding vir die huidige sosiale gevolge nie. Eerder, dit nooi ons uit om onsself te open vir moontlike, nuwe betekenisse, wat verby enige kulturele betekenisse strek. Binne die eietydse konteks daag Genesis 1 die interpreteerder sowel as die leser uit tot selfkritiese aktiwiteit in die lees of interpretasie van die teks binne sy / haar eie konteks. Dit is so weens die feit dat die Skrif ruimte laat vir diversiteit en weens die feit dat Genesis 1 nuwe betekenis geskep het vir die lesers binne die eksiliese gemeenskap, soos wat Genesis 2-3 gedoen het vir lesers van die oorspronklike kulture soos gereflekteer in die geskrifte. Om hierdie rede behoort die KPK ook uitgedaag te word om opnuut ondersoek in te stel na die verhouding tussen man en vrou en om uitgenooi te word as vennoot in die proses om die verlore helfte van die waardigheid van die beeld van God vir die mensdom te herstel. Indien die ballingskap vir die Joodse volk dui op 'n bevraagtekening van hulle veilige sentrums van betekenis as die yolk van God, behoort ons tradisionele Christelike beskouing van die aard van God en van die mensdom op soortgelyke wyse bevraagteken te word binne ons eietydse konteks.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/52696
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