• Gendering Sarai: Reading Beyond Cisnormativity in Genesis 11:29–12:20 and 20:1–18

    Jo Henderson-Merrygold (see profile)
    Biblical Studies, Gender Studies, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, LGBTQ Studies, Religious Studies
    Biblical interpretation, Gay and lesbian studies, Queer theory, Hermeneutics
    Item Type:
    Transgender, Biblical Hermeneutics, cisnormativity, Genesis, reader-response, LGBTQ Studies, Hebrew bible, Queer and gender studies
    Permanent URL:
    This article explores the way assumptions about gender prevalent in twenty-first century readers impact our understanding of Sarai. It interrogates the way a mere glimpse allows us to instantaneously assign a person gender, something trans theorist Julia Serano calls gendering. Through this article, we see how the third-party accounts of Sarai in Genesis 11:19–12:20 parallel the experience of that introductory glance today. By undertaking a close reading, different themes emerge that work to both confirm and challenge her fit within dominant gender norms. Indeed, Sarai cannot easily be subsumed into cisnormative gender expectations that privilege consistent coherence between the sex assigned at birth and gender identity and expression. Genesis 20:1–20 is then placed in discussion with the earlier portion of Sarai’s story. It provides the opportunity to revisit how observers within the text see and understand her. In turn new details emerge that seek to confirm Sarai’s fit within cisnormativity; but in doing so, they end up disrupting our perception that Sarai is a cisnormative woman. Ultimately, this reading establishes that Sarai does not neatly fit our preconceptions, which opens up the potential to consider her a transgender or a gender-diverse figure.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
    All Rights Reserved


    Item Name: pdf 23006579-open-theology-gendering-sarai-reading-beyond-cisnormativity-in-genesis-11-29–12-20-and-20-1–18.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 457