If you have not, read it.
We discussed this class in Bible as Literature class and it was a surprisingly quiet session. I could tell this was the first time some of the students have ever seen this passage in their Bible. No one ever preaches it, that is for sure! So who can blame them for their silence?
The passage, as you can speaks of rape, murder, and gender differentiation.
I am in the process of asking Christians, through forum discussion and 1 on 1 to discuss this passage and its implications in the Bible for me. So I will update on the study if it bears fruit.
As a non-believer, I ask myself why is this passage in a holy and sacred book? The first, obvious answer is that the author is describing a historical event. This did in fact happen and the Levite did in fact cut up his concubine (alive?) and mail her pieces to the 12 tribes, and the 12 tribes did in fact go to war because of this display and event.
However. The event and actions of the Levite speak so much more, ojectively and textually than just a historical fact. It speaks of cultural traditions. For one, we know that in middle eastern societies, even to this day, people have the social demand that if a stranger comes to your town, you must offer him your hospitality for 3 days. So we know that the person who invited in the Levite was exhibiting a social duty. We also know that he of course would protect him against any attackers coming to his door.
But is not the Levite's concubine also a guest? Is not she also protected?
Apparently not. Which is where the problem begins. Why is the woman tossed out, a guest, and the guest's concubine? The host knew what these men were going to do, rape her. He also knew they had evil intents and would probably cause her deadly harm, besides the initial trauma of being gang raped. Yet he threw her out to them to be their toy all night. What does this say?
A lot. Now what does this say to someone who believes that the Bible is the guidebook for humanity? How does someone rationalize God's silence in a book that is supposedly the Word of God?
Reactions I gleaned from the class discussion? My professor said the first time she read it was when a friend of hers, who had been raped, read this passage for the first time and called her weeping and asking her "why is this in the Bible???" My professor said, shocked, she opened her bible and read it for her first time. She also wept. She didn't have an answer then, and doesn't have an answer now.