Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: October 1, 2023 - Last updated: October 1, 2023


Speaker: Mathilde Frey

Title: Women's Bodies on the Side of the Road

Subtitle: Rhetoric and Metaphors of Trauma and Hope in Jeremiah 13 and 31

Conference: Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (November 18-21, 2023) - Online Program

Session: S19-148: Writing/Reading Jeremiah. Theme: Multivocality as Rhetorical Strategy in a Context of Trauma

Place: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Date: November 19, 2023

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Israelite History | Types: Rape; Society: Rape Culture / Metaphors; Representations: Religious Texts / Book of Jeremiah


Link: -


Speaker: Mathilde Frey, School of Theology, Walla Walla University -, ResearchGate

Abstract: »Jeremiah 13 and 31 are two chapters that stand at the outer ends of the prophetic message offered to the devastated community of Judah on its way to exile in Babylon. Chapter 13 tells of a disturbing sign act performed by the prophet with dirty underwear followed by poetry filled with appalling and brutal metaphors of rape committed by Yahweh, the divine husband on Jerusalem, his wife. On the other hand, chapter 31, signals consolation and the prospect of a new covenant with language of intense exquisiteness. Nevertheless, the inconsolable voice of Mother Rachel is still heard on the side of the road to Ramah weeping for her children (vv. 15–22). Interpreters have overwhelmingly placed emphasis on the new covenant in Jeremiah 31, the chapter that stands as a signpost of hope and renewal. What is often ignored in both chapters are the bodies—women’s bodies—they are left lying on the roads where the prophet and his God walk side by side. This paper has grown out of teaching experiences with Jeremiah’s book in religious studies classrooms loaded with a wide variety of emotions. They range from apathy to fear of losing traditional religious views to distress from religious trauma and sexual assault. Just like Jeremiah’s bewildering texts the classroom holds space for the perpetrator and for the bruised body of the woman, for the morally upright and for the silenced voice of the queer. It is a jumbled text placed into chaotic conversations, and so it requires a method of deep reading and careful listening. Ordered, reasonable, and neat worlds collapse as the reader enters complex spaces and engages with feminist and trauma-informed approaches to shed light on some of the most disturbing language in the Bible.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: Ancient history: History of ancient Israel and Judah | Bible: Hebrew Bible / Book of Jeremiah | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape in the Hebrew Bible