Yahweh vs. the teraphim : Jacob's pagan wives in Thomas Mann's "Joseph and his brothers" and in Anita Diamant's "The red tent"

  • This essay deals with two retellings of Genesis: Thomas Mann's "Joseph and his brothers" and Anita Diamant's "The red tent". Both authors note the presence of implicit pagan tendencies among the women of Jacob's clan (Gen 31:19; 35:2) and develop this subtext for their respective ideological purposes. Thomas Mann creates a dichotomy between the backwardness of the pagan female realm and the progressive nature of the monotheistically-oriented patriarchs. The path toward modern humanist values comes from the likes of Jacob and Joseph rather than Rachel and Leah in Mann's novel. Anita Diamant, on the other hand, adopts the opposite attitude, namely, that the paganism of Rachel, Leah, as well as other women in Jacob's family, is a humane and natural form of spirituality in contrast to the bloodthirsty Yahwism of Jacob and his sons. The latter point is illustrated by the sacking of Shechem. In order to question the patriarchal stance of the Old Testament Diamant reverses the key values informing the theology of the Bible. Thus, in "The red tent" Jacob's wives venerate the Ashera in particular. The latter constitutes a challenge to the stance of the Deuteronomic History where the cult of the Ashera is viewed as a key reason behind God's decision to let the Babylonians destroy the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And since Mann's novel upholds the patriarchal spirit of the biblical text, Diamant enters into debate with the continuity of female disempowerment which reaches all the way from Genesis to "Joseph and his brothers".

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Author:Vladimir Tumanov
Parent Title (English):Nebula
Publisher:Nebula Press
Place of publication:Glebe, NSW
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2007
Year of first Publication:2007
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/12/30
GND Keyword:Diamant, Anita / The red tent; Genesis; Mann, Thomas / Joseph und seine Brüder; Heidentum <Motiv>
Page Number:13
First Page:139
Last Page:151
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:Germanistik / GiNDok
CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
BDSL-Klassifikation:04.00.00 Allgemeine Literaturgeschichte / BDSL-Klassifikation: 04.00.00 Allgemeine Literaturgeschichte > 04.03.00 Vergleichende Literaturgeschichte
16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914) / BDSL-Klassifikation: 16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914) > 16.15.00 Zu einzelnen Autoren
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht