Headshot of Dr.Rhiannon  Graybill

Dr. Rhiannon Graybill

Professor of Religious Studies
Marcus M. and Carole M. Weinstein & Gilbert M. and Fannie S. Rosenthal Chair of Jewish Studies
Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Advisory Board Member
  • Profile

    Rhiannon Graybill researches and teaches about the Hebrew Bible. She is especially interested in feminist and queer approaches to biblical interpretation, and in reading contemporary literature with (and against) ancient biblical texts. Her first book, Are We Not Men?: Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets (Oxford University Press, 2016), explores the performance of masculinity by biblical prophets, including Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The book puts the biblical prophets in conversation with contemporary sources such as poetry, film, and gender theory to demonstrate that prophetic masculinity is queer masculinity. Her second book, Texts after Terror: Rape, Sexual Violence, and the Hebrew Bible (Oxford University Press, 2021), focuses on rape and sexual violence in the Hebrew Bible. Drawing on feminist, queer, and affect theory, as well as activism against rape and rape culture, Texts after Terror offers a new framework for reading biblical rape stories. This framework critiques the reliance on a consent/nonconsent binary as a determinant of rape; rethinks sexual harm; reads biblical rape texts with contemporary survivor accounts; and advocates for a practice of “unhappy reading” that makes unhappiness and open-endedness into key feminist sites of possibility. The book also offers new readings of the rapes of Dinah, Tamar, Bathsheba, Hagar, Lot’s daughters, Daughter Zion, and the Levite’s concubine. Texts after Terror received the American Academy of Religion's 2022 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies.

    Graybill’s other major focus in recent years has been the book of Jonah. Together with John Kaltner and Steven L. McKenzie, she has recently completed a commentary on Jonah in the Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries series. Jonah: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary was published 2023. A key feature of the commentary is its emphasis on using contemporary methods to read the book of Jonah, including queer and affect theory, postcolonial criticism, and trauma theory. Along with the commentary, Graybill, Kaltner, and McKenzie have also recently completed a short introductory book, What Are They Saying about the Book of Jonah?, published by Paulist Press (2023). 

    Graybill’s current research project, This is Not My Beautiful Body, explores one of the richest — and, from a feminist view, most troubling — metaphorical complexes of the Hebrew Bible: the woman’s body as land and its equally familiar reversal, the land as woman. This project explores how we might read these bodies differently, especially when we read with and through speculative fiction, literary horror, and the feminist Weird. This is Not My Beautiful Body centers the weird female body, drawing on traditions of feminist literary and speculative fiction to think differently about female embodiment.

    Graybill has also edited four volumes: Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements, with M. Cooper Minister and Beatrice Lawrence (Lexington, 2019), The Bible, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Readings, with Lynn R. Huber (Bloomsbury/T.&T. Clark, 2020), and Who Knows What We’d Make of It, If We Ever Got Our Hands on It?”: The Bible and Margaret Atwood with Peter J. Sabo (Gorgias, 2021), and Lee Edelman and the Queer Study of Religion with Kent L. Brintnall and Linn Marie Tonstad (Routledge, 2023). The Atwood volume won the Margaret Atwood Society award for Best Edited Volume. Three additional edited volumes are in progress: Lee Edelman and the Queer Study of Religion, with Kent L. Brintnall and Linn Tonstad (under contract with Routledge), Ruth: Themes and Issues in Biblical Studies, with Philippe Guillaume (under contract with Equinox), and Narrating Rape: Lacunae and Shifting Perspectives in (Biblical) Literature and Popular Culture, with L. Juliana M. Claassens and Christl Maier.

    Graybill is editor (with Robert L. Seesengood) of The Bible and Critical Theory, an internationally recognized journal, and has published numerous articles and book chapters on gender, sexuality, and the Hebrew Bible. She holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Publications

    “Who Knows What We’d Make of It, If We Ever Got Our Hands on It?”: The Bible and Margaret Atwood. Editor, with Peter J. Sabo. Gorgias Press, 2020.

    • Winner: Best Edited Volume Award, Margaret Atwood Society.

    The Bible, Gender, and Sexuality: Critical Readings. Editor, with Lynn Huber. Bloomsbury Academic / T&T Clark, 2020.

    Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements. Editor, with M. Cooper Minister and Beatrice Lawrence. Lexington Books, 2019.

    Journal Articles

    “A Child Is Being Eaten: Maternal Cannibalism and the Hebrew Bible in the Company of Fairy Tales.” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 142, No. 2, 2022.

    “Testifying Bodies: The Bible and Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments.” With Peter J. Sabo. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Vol. 38, No.1, 2022.

    “‘Even unto this Bitter Loving’: Unhappiness and Queer Feeling in the Book of Ruth,” Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 29, 2020.

    “Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible: Teaching for Social Justice,” Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2020.

    “Underwater Archaeology: The Compositional Layers of the Book of Jonah.” With Steven L. McKenzie and John Kaltner. Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 70, No. 1, 2020.

    “Fuzzy, Messy, Icky: The Edges of Consent in Biblical Rape Narratives and Rape Culture,” The Bible & Critical Theory, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2019.

    “Elisha’s Body and the Queer Touch of Prophecy.” Biblical Theology Bulletin Vol. 49, No, 1, 2019.

    “‘Day of the Woman’: Judges 4-5 as Slasher and Rape Revenge Narrative.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Vol 30, No. 3, 2018.

    “When Bodies Meet: Fraught Companionship and Entangled Embodiment in Jeremiah.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 86, No. 4, 2018.

    “The Caves of the Hebrew Bible: A Speleology,” with Peter J. Sabo, University of Alberta. Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2018.

    “Yahweh as Maternal Vampire in Second Isaiah: Reading Gender and Prophecy with Luce Irigaray.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion Vol. 33, No. 1, 2017.

    “‘Hear and Give Ear!’: The Soundscape of Jeremiah,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 40, No. 4, 2016.

    “No Child Left Behind: Reading Jephthah’s Daughter with The Babylon Complex.” The Bible & Critical Theory, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2015.

    “Masculinity, Materiality, and the Body of Moses,” Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 23, No. 3, 2015.

    “Uncanny Bodies, Impossible Knowledge and Somatic Excess in Isaiah 29,” The Bible & Critical Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2011.

    Book Chapters

    “Sex in Public in the Song of Songs: ‘But Where is the Tweaking, Thwacking, Thumping, Sliming, and Rubbing You Might Have Expected–or Dreaded–in a Paper on Sex?’” in Reading the Song of Songs in a #MeToo Era, ed. Elaine T. James and Simeon Chavel. Brill, 2023.

    “Where is Clytemnestra When You Need Her? Gender, Alterity, and the Masculine Economy of Prophecy in Isaiah 56-66” in Prophetic Otherness: Constructions of Otherness in Prophetic Literature, ed. Steed Vernyl Davidson and Daniel Timmer. Bloomsbury T&T Clark., 2021.

    “The LongPen, the Future Library, and Biblical Prophecy: Thinking Writing with Margaret Atwood,” in “Who Knows What We’d Make of It, If We Ever Got Our Hands on It?”: The Bible and Margaret Atwood, ed. Rhiannon Graybill and Peter Sabo. Gorgias, 2020.

    “Arcane Energy: An Afterword on the Bible and The Testaments,” in “Who Knows What We’d Make of It, If We Ever Got Our Hands on It?”: The Bible and Margaret Atwood, ed. Rhiannon Graybill and Peter Sabo. Gorgias, 2020.

    “Jonah in the Book of the Twelve,” with John Kaltner and Steven L. McKenzie, in The Book of the Twelve: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation, ed. Lena Tiemeyer and Jakob Wörhle. Formation and Interpretation of Old Testament Literature, Brill, 2020.

    “Prophecy and the Problem of Happiness: The Case of Jonah” in Reading with Feeling: Affect Theory and the Bible, ed. Jennifer Koosed and Fiona Black. SBL Press, 2019.

    “Jonah’s Masculinity ‘Between Men’: The Prophet in Critical Homosocial Perspective” in Hebrew Masculinities Anew, ed. Ovidiu Creangă. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2019.

    “Good Intentions are Not Enough” in Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements, ed. Graybill, Minister, and Lawrence, 2019.

    “Phyllis Trible,” in Introduction to Contemporary Theories of Religion, ed. Meredith Minister and Sarah J. Bloesch. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018.

    “Rock Me Sexy Jesus? Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Films,” in A Bible and Film Companion, ed. Richard Walsh. Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018.

    “Surpassing the Love of Women: From Feminism to Queer Theory in Biblical Studies,” in Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Retrospect, vol. 3., ed. Susanne Scholz. Sheffield Phoenix, 2016.

    “The Eldritch Scroll: Fantasies of the Found Book in Borges, Lovecraft, and 2 Kings,” in Borges and the Bible: A Collection of Essays, ed. Richard Walsh and Jay Twomey. Sheffield Phoenix, 2015.

    “Jeremiah, Sade, and Repetition as Counterpleasure in the Oracle against Edom,” in Concerning the Nations: Oracles against the Nations in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, ed. Andrew Mein, Else K. Holt, and Hyun Chul Paul Kim. Bloomsbury / T&T Clark, 2015.

    “Voluptuous, Tortured, and Unmanned: Ezekiel and Daniel Paul Schreber” in The Bible and Posthumanism, Semeia Studies. SBL Press, ed. Jennifer L. Koosed, 2014.

    “Enter Job, with Fear and Trembling,” in Recognition and Modes of Knowledge: Anagnorisis from Antiquity to Contemporary Theory, ed. Teresa Russo, University of Alberta Press, 2013.