BR 10:02, Apr 1994
My View: On Becoming a Male Feminist Bible Scholar
Had someone told me a decade ago that I would be teaching a course on Women and the Bible, I would have laughed. My academic training in Bible was quite traditional. The word gender never entered the classroom. Yet I have just completed teaching my departments first-ever Womens Studies course. I serve on the Brandeis University Womens Studies Program Committee, I helped to devise a joint masters degree program in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Womens Studies, and I am now part of a committee expanding the Brandeis Womens Studies program into a full-fledged major.
I dont quite know how this happened to me. Perhaps it began more than ten years ago when I took a comprehensive examination at Brandeis University on the biblical Book of Judges, which contains a disproportionate number of women. At that point, there was no synthetic discussion of the women of Judges, yet even I could see, in some rudimentary fashion, that they were there, were important, were interesting and played a wide variety of roles: Jael, the clever warrior; Deborah, the prophetess and judge; Jephthahs daughter and her friends, the cult leaders; and the nameless concubine of Gibeah, a victim. There were then no articles discussing these women, and I must admit that I did not spend much time looking for that kind of literature.