The Hebrew Bible appears to talk to men about men. Biblical narratives describe men activing heroically and piously or sinfully and immorally; biblical law codes employ male gendered nouns and verbs throughout. And yet, the Bible also offers a number of accounts of women doing things. Moreover, the Bible’s law codes are replete with rules governing women’s behaviors and bodies. Significantly, models of heroic and immoral women deviate a great deal from their archetypal male counterparts. Moreover, laws governing women are quite distinct from laws governing men.
In this course we explore biblical texts about women, in order to parse out these differences. In so doing, we aim to understand the female social identities and gendered power dynamics advocated by the Hebrew Bible, as well as the social realities that governed living as a woman in ancient Israel.
Some women we will explore include Eve, Ruth and the prophetess Huldah (among many others). Some laws we will examine address marriage and divorce, rape, and menstruation.