Assistant religion professor Tony Finitsis will explore when the relationship between a man and a woman becomes combative and what it means to “sleep with the enemy” in a lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Xavier’s Nordquist Lecture Hall.
His talk, titled “Samson and Delilah, Man Versus Woman: A Hairy Issue,” focuses on the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. Set against the backdrop of Israel’s war to reclaim the Promised Land from the Philistines, it depicts the love story of Samson, a war hero sent by God, and Delilah, a mystery woman who ultimately leads to Samson’s demise.
“She betrays Samson to the enemy, and the interesting thing is he allows her to,” Finitsis said. “It’s a love story within a war story. Then you have a love story that turns combative.”
The story turns combative when Delilah agrees to help the enemy, the Philistines, find the source of Samson’s strength, which he eventually tells her, comes from his long hair. Delilah has a servant cut it while Samson sleeps, and then he is blinded and imprisoned.
Finitsis said he’ll try to explain why Delilah betrayed Samson, and compare their story to similar ones found in Greek mythology. He will also discuss the role of hair in the story and how it relates to gender construction.
“Even nowadays, if you ask a kid to draw a picture of a man and woman, they draw the man with short hair and the woman with long hair. Why?” Finitsis said.
According to Finitsis, hair is a signifier of social status, and has been for thousands of years. When Queen Hatshepsut ruled over Egypt in the 18th dynasty, she wore a fake beard and dressed as a man because society was only satisfied with a male ruler, Finitsis explained.
Fast-forward to 2007, and a similar debate is occurring with Hillary Clinton and her bid for the White House. People constantly obsess over the length of her hair, and the shorter the better because she’ll look more masculine, he said.
“Why can’t she look feminine and rule?” Finitsis questioned.
While the story of Samson and Delilah is more than 3,000 years old, many of the same tensions between men and women still exist. Finitsis is curious as to why this is the case and what needs to change to end the friction.
“What are the ‘hairs’ we need to pull?” he asked. He’ll use the theories of Aristotle, Freud and anthropologists to explain his conclusion.
Finitsis’ lecture is sponsored by the Department of Religion. The department will also host a discussion by Jürgen Moltmann, professor emeritus at the University of Tübingen, on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Chris Knutzen Hall.
Moltmann’s lecture is titled “In the End is the Beginning: Christ’s Resurrection and the Resurrection of the Flesh.” His theology is characterized by resurrection and hope.
University Communications staff writer Megan Haley compiled this report. Comments, questions, ideas? Please contact her at ext. 8691 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.