1st Edition

Children in the Bible and the Ancient World Comparative and Historical Methods in Reading Ancient Children

Edited By Shawn W. Flynn Copyright 2019
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    The topic of children in the Bible has long been under-represented, but this has recently changed with the development of childhood studies in broader fields, and the work of several dedicated scholars. While many reading methods are employed in this emerging field, comparative work with children in the ancient world has been an important tool to understand the function of children in biblical texts.

    Children in the Bible and the Ancient World broadly introduces children in the ancient world, and specifically children in the Bible. It brings together an international group of experts who help readers understand how children are constructed in biblical literature across three broad areas: children in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, children in Christian writings and the Greco-Roman world, and children and materiality. The diverse essays cover topics such as: vows in Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible, obstetric knowledge, infant abandonment, the role of marriage, Greek abandonment texts, ritual entry for children into Christian communities, education, sexual abuse, and the role of archeological figurines in children’s lives. The volume also includes expertise in biological anthropology to study the skeletal remains of ancient children, as well as how ancient texts illuminate Mary’s female maturity. The volume is written in an accessible style suitable for non-specialists, and it is equipped with a helpful resource bibliography that organizes select secondary sources from these essays into meaningful categories for further study.

    Children in the Bible and the Ancient World is a helpful introduction to any who study children and childhood in the ancient world. In addition, the volume will be of interest to experts who are engaged in historical approaches to biblical studies, while appreciating how the ancient world continues to illuminate select topics in biblical texts.

    List of contributors



    Part I: Children in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East

    Chapter 1

    Vows and Children in the Hebrew Bible

    Heath D. Dewrell

    Chapter 2

    Turning Birth into Theology: Traces of Ancient Obstetric Knowledge within Narratives of Difficult Childbirth in the Hebrew Bible

    Claudia D. Bergmann

    Chapter 3

    Uncooperative Breeders: Parental Investment and Infant Abandonment in Hebrew and Greek Narrative

    David A. Bosworth

    Chapter 4

    Failure to Marry: Girling Gone Wrong

    Kristine Henriksen Garroway

    Part II: Children in Christian Writings and the Greco-Roman World

    Chapter 5

    Girls and Goddesses: The Gospel of Mark and the Eleusinian Mysteries

    Sharon Betsworth

    Chapter 6

    Children and Church: The Ritual Entry of Children into Pauline Churches

    John W. Martens

    Chapter 7

    "Stay away from my children!": Educators and the Accusation of Sexual Abuse in Roman Antiquity

    Christian Laes

    Part III: Children and Material Culture

    Chapter 8

    I Bless You by YHWH of Samaria and His Barbie: A Case for Understanding Judean Pillar Figurines as Children’s Toys

    Julie Faith Parker

    Chapter 9

    Coming of Age at St Stephen’s: Bioarchaeology of Children at a Byzantine Jerusalem Monastery (5th–7th Centuries CE)

    Susan G. Sheridan



    Chapter 10

    Protoevangelium of James, Menstruating Mary, and Twenty-First-Century Adolescence: Purity, Liminality, and the Sexual Female

    Doris M. Kieser


    Shawn W. Flynn received a PhD in 2012 from the University of Toronto, Canada, in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. His first book was YHWH is King, published in Vetus Testamentum Supplements (2014); he also authored Children in Ancient Israel: The Hebrew Bible and Mesopotamia in Comparative Perspective (2018). In addition, A Story of YHWH: Cultural Translation and Subversive Reception in Israelite History is forthcoming(Routledge, 2019). He is currently an Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible at St Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, Canada, and the Academic Dean of the College.

    "The volume shows that the study of ancient children has progressed over the last decades, which makes collective volumes like this possible. While further conceptual and methodological studies on ancient children in different periods and regions are still needed, the volume shows that, by applying already existing theories and approaches to their material, such as "childist" approaches referenced by several contributors, novel readings of often-discussed passages can be achieved. While the editor notes that "historical contexts are essential to understanding children" (p. x), most contributions demonstrate that in turn, by taking the presence of children in narratives as a point of departure, the historical context of the passages discussed can sometimes also be better understood. The contributions are thus relevant to Biblicists, Classicists and scholars of the Ancient Near East, as well as those interested in gender, education, and childhood studies in general." - Bryn Mawr, Classical Review

    "The book certainly succeeds in its goal to illustrate the variety of historical approaches to the study of children in biblical and extrabiblical literature (...) Children in the Bible and the Ancient World is an excellent anthology for introducing scholars to the various historical approaches to childhood studies in the field of biblical literature."

    - David A. Schones, Austin College, Reading Religion