Subject Area



This dissertation explores the need for an interpretation of 1 Samuel 1 that is grounded in social-scientific scholarship on infertility. The study analyzes biblical interpretations on 1 Samuel 1 in the five decades that feminist-disability scholarship on infertility has emerged in the social sciences. Accordingly, the exegetical readings analyzed in this study were produced in the same time frame during which feminist-disability scholarship began to be articulated in earnest. The study demonstrates the necessity for interpreting 1 Samuel 1 with social-scientific research on infertility in mind. If such scholarship is not taken into account, biblical readings remain stuck in outdated terminology and uninformed assumptions about Hannah’s involuntary childlessness.

Social-scientific scholarship has produced four models on infertility that need to inform the interpretation of 1 Samuel 1. The models are the social constructionist, misfit, enacted, and felt models. Employing the four models, the study shows that Hannah’s infertility is stigmatized on familial and personal levels. It also demonstrates that involuntary childlessness must be understood within its cultural-literary context. The study challenges the economic and religious explanations for Hannah’s infertility and counters biblical interpretations that view her involuntary childlessness as caused by economic distress, misfortune, or God. Most importantly, the application of the four models develops a reading centered on Hannah as an infertile woman.

Degree Date

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


Susanne Scholz

Second Advisor

Roy L. Heller

Third Advisor

Harold J. Recinos

Fourth Advisor

Timothy Sandoval

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License