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The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34: Interpreting Dinah's Silence

by Caroline Blyth

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This innovative study explores the interconnectedness of ancient and current attitudes towards sexual violence, focusing upon the representation of rape in the biblical narrative of Genesis 34. Caroline Blyth takes the reader on a journey through both biblical and contemporary cultures, contemplating the commonality and diversity of rape survivors' experiences across space and time. In particular, Blyth evaluates the insidious and pervasive influences of the cultural myths and misperceptions surrounding sexual violence, which have long served to deny rape survivors a voice with which to relate their narrative of suffering. Blyth examines whether such 'rape myths' are likewise given voice within the biblical text of Genesis 34, where we encounter Dinah, a voiceless literary victim of sexual violence. When these myths do appear to be represented within the narrative, consideration is then given to the ways in which they may have shaped Dinah's literary experience of sexual violation and furthermore, contributed to her narrative silence. Appealing to the witness of contemporary rape survivors whose own testimonies of their experiences have been affected by such rape myths, Blyth attempts to grant Dinah a literary voice with which to share her story. The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34 provides a deeper insight into Dinah's literary silence within the narrative, in order that contemporary readers can better comprehend its significance and complexity.… (more)
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This innovative study explores the interconnectedness of ancient and current attitudes towards sexual violence, focusing upon the representation of rape in the biblical narrative of Genesis 34. Caroline Blyth takes the reader on a journey through both biblical and contemporary cultures, contemplating the commonality and diversity of rape survivors' experiences across space and time. In particular, Blyth evaluates the insidious and pervasive influences of the cultural myths and misperceptions surrounding sexual violence, which have long served to deny rape survivors a voice with which to relate their narrative of suffering. Blyth examines whether such 'rape myths' are likewise given voice within the biblical text of Genesis 34, where we encounter Dinah, a voiceless literary victim of sexual violence. When these myths do appear to be represented within the narrative, consideration is then given to the ways in which they may have shaped Dinah's literary experience of sexual violation and furthermore, contributed to her narrative silence. Appealing to the witness of contemporary rape survivors whose own testimonies of their experiences have been affected by such rape myths, Blyth attempts to grant Dinah a literary voice with which to share her story. The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34 provides a deeper insight into Dinah's literary silence within the narrative, in order that contemporary readers can better comprehend its significance and complexity.

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