Power, ideology and interpretation/s : womanist and literary perspectives on the book of Esther as resources for gender-social transformation.
This study argues that literary and womanist perspectives on the book of. Esther can be used as resources for gender-social transformation in the South African Indian Pentecostal community. It maintains that Biblical scholarship cannot be confined only to the academy, while the Bible is used in the community to oppress women. When culture and interpretation both collude in the oppression of women, putting their lives at risk, it is imperative, this study argues, for those working in the field of liberation hermeneutics to not restrict their work to the academy. Hence, this study seeks to find ways to read the Bible in ways that liberate rather than oppress. The dissertation is divided into two sections. An examination of the ways in which ideology, plot, narrative time and characterization elucidate the theme of power in the narrative of Esther, form the first section of the dissertation. Each chapter of the first section focuses on the literary details of the text, but always with a hermeneutic of transformation in mind. In the second section, an analysis of how these critical interpretations contribute to the process of gender-social transformation is undertaken. This is done through a process of an analysis of a series of Bible studies conducted by the author with South African Indian Pentecostal women from the Durban area. Issues of representation and the scholar's role in the process of the transformation and conscientization of the community are also examined in this second section. The conclusion is a reflection of the implications of this study both to the academy and to the community. It reiterates that the collaboration between scholars and the community is a vital one, and the challenge that remains is for more organic intellectuals to use the opportunities which they have been given through their privileged access to education, to empower those in the community who have afforded them the opportunity.