Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

The Image of the "Strange/Foreign Woman" in Proverbs 1-9

Author: ZHANG Jing, Lecturer at School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University of China



The “strange” or “foreign” woman (’issa zara/nokriyya) in Proverbs 1-9 has been translated as “loose woman” or “adulteress” in both Chinese and English, clearly stigmatizing her as morally corrupt. Readers are seldom suspecious of either the translation or stigmatization. This essay traces the root of the two Hebrew words, and uses feminist criticism to show how the moral stigmatization of the image of the “foreign/strange woman” was a construct of the authorities in power which accorded with the needs of their times. The author holds that both the “strange/foreign woman” and “Lady Wisdom” (or “Woman Wisdom”) belong to an ancient wisdom which was ambiguous in morality. The “strange/foreign woman” is not the opposite of “Lady Wisdom,” but the other side of “Lady Wisdom,” and cannot be separated from her. Though retaining her liminal status, the “strange/foreign woman” challenges the authorities and the powerful, and thus helps marginalized women to survive at certain critical moments.




“strange/foreign woman”; Proverbs 1-9; ancient wisdom; feminism; morality


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