The Book of Hiding
Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther
Routledge – 1997 – 168 pages
Series: Biblical Limits
The Book of Hiding offers a fluent and erudite analysis of the parallels between the Bible and contemporary discussions of gender, ethnicity and social ambiguity. Beal focuses particularly on the traditionally marginalised book of Esther, in order to examine closely the categories of self and other in relation to religion, sexism, nationalism, and the ever-looming legacies and future possibilities of annihilation. Beal applies the critical tools of contemporary theorists, such as Cixous, Irigaray and Levinas, challenging widely held assumptions about the moral and life-affirming message of Scripture and even about the presence of God in the book of Esther. The Book of Hiding draws together a variety of different perspectives and disciplines, creating a unique space for dialogue raising new questions and reconsidering old assumptions, which is profoundly interesting and well-articulated.
'Timothy Beal's sensitive interpretation of the enchanting yet disturbing 'Book of Esther' is a gift to students and teachers of Scripture. Though the mystery of the 'hiding' remains intact, the character's emerge ina new light, weaving a story that responds to our need for enchantment.' - Elie Wiesel
'This study addresses the ambiguities inherent in gender and ethnic identities. The book will be appreciated by those interested in biblical interpretaion as well as women's studies.' - The Bible Today
'Formidable!…a delight to read. Beal has the facility of making complex theory graspable and of helping readers to enjoy the sudden insights it provides.' The book is formidable, but not in the stern and daunting English meaning of the word. Rather it is formidable, as the French would say. Beal takes the work of de Beauvoir, Butler and Cixous, Derrida, Foucault, Irigaray, Kristeva. Lacan, Levinas and others, and applies it deftly, producing a pleasing alternative of explanation and exegisis. - The Expository Times
'For those who want to know what difference theory can make to biblical studies, The Book of Hiding is an example of the very best of current work'. - Yvonne Sherwood, Roehampton Institute
'This is a beautifully written and driven work, which is, in itself, am achievement in the largely drab world of biblical studies' - David Jasper, Literature and Theology
'… Beal is unique in making post-structuralist readings accessible, and in retaining a concernwith the ethical dimensions of reading while raising the possibility (radical for some) that neither meaning nor identities are fixed and immutable.' - Julia Myers O'Brien, Biblical Interpretation
Timothy K. Beal is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Women's and Gender Studies at Eckerd College, Florida. He is the Chair of the Reading, Theory and the Bible section of the Society of Biblical Literature. He is co-editor, with David Gunn, of Reading Bibles, Writing Bodies: Identity and the Book (Routledge 1996).