Hagar as/against Bare Life
Feminist and womanist theologians and biblical critics have drawn on the story of Hagar to plumb the quality of life for marginalized women, from antiquity to the present. This study advances that conversation by reading Paul's allegory in Galatians against the more complex representation of Hagar in the Septuagint, Paul's own scripture. The stripped-down version of Hagar readers encounter in Galatians exemplifies political philosopher Giorgio Agamben's influential concept of “bare life.” The richer story of Hagar's life in the Septuagint illuminates what bare life omits, distorts, or gets wrong about being human. Engagement with the story of Hagar— as mediated through feminist and womanist criticism—thus serves as the basis for critique of one of the most widely circulated secular critical theories of the twenty-first century.