Original Research

Seeing and hearing Hagar: An affective reading of Genesis 16

A. Rebecca Basdeo Hill, Lee R. Martin
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 58, No 1 | a3016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3016 | © 2024 A. Rebecca Basdeo Hill, Lee R. Martin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2023 | Published: 12 February 2024

About the author(s)

A. Rebecca Basdeo Hill, Old Testament Department, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee, United States; and Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Lee R. Martin, Old Testament Department, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee, United States; and Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

In the past, Hagar’s significance in the Abrahamic narratives has been overlooked by biblical scholarship. Although recent studies have aimed to rescue and redeem Hagar from patriarchal interpretations, insufficient attention has been given to the emotive quality of Hagar’s narrative. Therefore, this research aimed to fill this gap by examining the underexplored biblical character of Hagar. A literary critical methodology to analyse the rhetorical impact of the language was used in Hagar’s narrative in order to illuminate the emotive aspect of her story as a marginalised character, which may resonate with modern hearers. By using this analytical framework, we unearthed a distressing narrative of mistreatment and manipulation that allowed hearers to empathise with Hagar’s experiences of marginalisation, dehumanisation, and exploitation. This finding resulted in the conclusion that Hagar’s story generated various affective responses of outrage, compassion, and hope from contemporary hearers.

Contribution: This article adds to the ongoing discourse surrounding the narrative of Hagar in biblical scholarship. It underscores the significance of this biblical story in influencing present-day ethical considerations. Additionally, it emphasises how this narrative presents conflicts that spark dialogue within the reading community, with an ultimate aim of moral formation (Christian affections), especially concerning women’s rights.


Keywords

rhetoric; affections; hermeneutics; Abraham; Sarah; oppression; social justice; women

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 5: Gender equality

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