Ideal Man versus Ideal Woman in Joseph and Aseneth

Ideal Man versus Ideal Woman in Joseph and Aseneth

Moira Forbes
(3rd Year B. A. Hons. Theology candidate, University of Birmingham)

THIS ESSAY INTENDS TO SHOW THAT JOSEPH is considered to be an ideal man throughout whereas Aseneth, a woman, has need of change before she can be ideal. Furthermore it will seek to discover why this change is a necessity for the author of the text.

It is clear from the very beginning that Joseph is an ideal man and that no improvement is needed:

Structure:  Joseph is first in many things in the text.

1. Although chapters 1 and 2 are more concerned with the Aseneth perspective, Joseph and his obedience to Pharaoh (which from the first exhibits his good qualities) is mentioned in the first few lines (1 v1-3). This places him first of all the personae in the text.

2. Joseph is the first to use the medium of poetry / prayer in the text (8v10-11). This asserts his authority over the other characters because if anyone uses the same device later on, they are simply following his example in the eyes of the reader.

3. In addition, Joseph is also the last to be mentioned in the text (29 v11-12), which ensures that the last thoughts of the reader are focused upon Joseph.