Subject Area

Humanities, Religion


Many Americans learn more about the Bible through popular culture than through reading the Bible itself or its interpretation in scholarly sources, and popular culture often sorts biblical women into either “good” or “bad” categories—virtuous or villainous. This dissertation asks if that trend has continued by analyzing the characterization of Rebekah—wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau—in the Masoretic Text of Genesis (esp. Gen 24:1–28:9) and in over 150 narrative retellings (called hypertexts) written in English, published in the United States between 1990 and 2019, and cataloged with the Library of Congress. The hypertexts are compared to the biblical text of Genesis, and the analysis points out where gaps in the biblical narrative have been filled by the hypertexts, especially as those filled gaps contribute to Rebekah’s characterization, whether positive, negative, or neutral. The project concludes that these recent portrayals of Rebekah do not conform to the late-nineteenth-century tendency to vilify Rebekah but instead present a more complicated portrait of her character. The overabundance of children’s Bibles published in this thirty-year period even creates a trend toward more positive characterizations.

Degree Date

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies


Roy L. Heller

Second Advisor

Serge Frolov

Third Advisor

Dan Moss

Fourth Advisor

Lesleigh Cushing

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

Available for download on Tuesday, May 09, 2028