Original Research

Rediscovering the ancient hermeneutic of Rebekah’s character

Oleg M. Tsymbalyuk, Valery V. Melnik
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a5526 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.5526 | © 2020 the ancient Jewish; Christian; and extra-Biblical view of Rebekah’s character; Luther; Calvin; the shift in the paradigm of interpretation; the Protestant Reformation | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 April 2019 | Published: 05 March 2020

About the author(s)

Oleg M. Tsymbalyuk, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, National Dragomanov University, Kyiv, Ukraine
Valery V. Melnik, Department of Psychology, Donbass State Pedagogical University, Slavyansk, Ukraine


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Abstract

A careful evaluation of well-documented historical data, along with ancient and modern theological writings, reveals the matriarch Rebekah as one of the most important and controversial individuals of the biblical narrative. Her exceptional beauty, hospitality, morality, faithfulness and sacrificial love were highly admired and praised as iconic by ancient historians, philosophers, the Hebrew community, the Church Fathers and numerous other scholars; yet, some theologians and clerics of the past few 100 years have depicted Rebekah in a negative light. This article intends to highlight this contradiction for the contemporary community of believers by providing an insightful description of the ancient hermeneutics of Rebekah’s story. It further aims to encourage biblical scholars to methodologically re-evaluate Rebekah’s life, investigating possible reasons as to why the positive image of Rebekah has been overturned in recent years, and thereby determine the cause of such a conceptual paradigm shift in interpreting this key biblical narrative.

Keywords

the ancient Jewish; Christian; and extra-Biblical view of Rebekah’s character; Luther; Calvin; the shift in the paradigm of interpretation; the Protestant Reformation

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