Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2009 - 7/31/2009

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

"The House of the Mother": The Identity and Function of the Natal Family in Ancient Israelite Kinship Structures

FAIN: FT-56738-09

Cynthia Ruth Chapman
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH 44074-1057)

My book project focuses on the identity and function of the natal family in ancient Israelite kinship structures. Through insights gained from the reconfigured field of kinship studies within anthropology, I have identified and defined the biblical term "house of the mother" with the anthropological kinship designation, "natal family." Through a close reading of biblical narratives in Hebrew, I have demonstrated that the natal family in ancient Israel brokered marriages, established the economic maintenance of a mother, advanced natal sons to the position of heir, and avenged rape or murder of natal kin. This research serves the larger field of the humanities by demonstrating the value of an interdisciplinary approach for understanding ancient texts that often obscure the role of women. Anthropology, gender studies, Classical Hebrew, and Biblical studies have allowed me to provide a detailed analysis of the roles of women in the larger patrilineal household of ancient Israel.