A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Micah (Wisdom Commentary, 2015)

This volume brings gender studies to bear on Micah’s powerful rhetoric, interpreting the book within its ancient and modern contexts. Julia M. O’Brien traces resonances of Micah’s language within the Persian Period community in which the book was composed, evaluating recent study of the period and the dynamics of power reflected in ancient sources. Also sampling the book’s reception by diverse readers in various time periods, she considers the real-life implications of Micah’s gender constructs.

micah cover

By bringing the ancient and modern contexts of Micah into view, the volume encourages readers to reflect on the significance of Micah’s construction of the world. Micah’s perspective on sin, salvation, the human condition, and the nature of YHWH affects the way people live—in part by shaping their own thought and in part by shaping the power structures in which they live. O’Brien’s engagement with Micah invites readers to discern in community their own hopes and dreams: What is justice? What should the future look like? What should we hope for?


“The offer of the Wisdom Commentary, with its accent on feminist reading, is welcome and much needed. Julia O’Brien has invested her entire academic career in a probe of that question, so that she is peculiarly equipped to author such a commentary. Her reading of Micah-that is, reader-centered-is enormously rich and perceptive. She shows how the question of gender justice and injustice permits us to see clearly so much in the prophetic text that we have otherwise missed. Her work is a remarkable advance in our reading of the prophet.”
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

“A commentary that pays careful attention to the construction of power, based on gender, economic status, or social class, offers interpretive insights that other commentaries easily miss. Julia O’Brien situates the book of Micah in the Persian period, in between the book’s narrative setting in the lifetime of Micah the prophet and later reading communities, including our own. In this location she finds the generative tension between ancient context and contemporary reading, between the prophetic cry for justice and the author’s scribal privilege. The result is a challenge to Micah’s present readers to find their own place within the power dynamics of their worlds and identify paths toward a greater sense of equity for everyone. O’Brien’s Micah will encourage its readers not just to hear the prophet but to participate in the prophetic task.”
Mark McEntire, Professor of Biblical Studies, Belmont University

“O’Brien accomplishes an exegetical feat. Her Micah commentary offers fresh, lucid, and sensitive exposition that documents why feminist interpretation matters. Micah, according to O’Brien, challenges androcentric habits, nurtures intersectional perspectives, and dreams of a world beyond the countless structures of domination. In O’Brien’s hands the book of Micah turns into a theo-cultural resource for seekers of just relationships and a world of peace.”
Dr. Susanne Scholz, PhD, Professor of Old Testament, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Micah is details and exceptionally well written, organized, presented, informed that will be greatly appreciate by clergy, student, and non-specialist general readers alike.”
Willis M. Buhle, The Midwest Book Review


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