Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean  book cover
1st Edition

Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 31, 2021
ISBN 9781138543782
December 31, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
400 Pages 67 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This engaging and accessible textbook provides an introduction to the study of ancient Jewish and Christian women in their Hellenistic and Roman contexts.

This is the first textbook dedicated to introducing women’s religious roles in Judaism and Christianity in a way that is accessible to undergraduates from all disciplines. The textbook provides brief, contextualising overviews that then allow for deeper explorations of specific topics in women’s religion, including leadership, domestic ritual, women as readers and writers of scripture, and as innovators in their traditions. Using select examples from ancient sources, the textbook provides teachers and students with the raw tools to begin their own exploration of ancient religion. An introductory chapter provides an outline of common hermeneutics or "lenses" through which scholars approach the texts and artefacts of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity. The textbook also features a glossary of key terms, a list of further readings and discussion questions for each topic, and activities for classroom use. In short, the book is designed to be a complete, classroom-ready toolbox for teachers who may have never taught this subject as well as for those already familiar with it.

Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean is intended for use in undergraduate classrooms and its target audience is undergraduate students and their instructors, although Masters students may also find the book useful. In addition, the book is accessible and lively enough that religious communities’ study groups and interested laypersons could employ the book for their own education.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of boxes

List of activities


Introduction for Instructors

Chapter 1: Introduction

What Sort of Book is This?

What is Gender Studies?

What is a Text and what is Reading?

Conclusion: What Role do our Assumptions Play in our Reading?

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 2: Religious Systems of Antiquity

Introduction: Standard Religious Categories and Why We Challenge Them

Problematic Vocabulary: Jewish, Christian, Pagan

The Academic Study of Religion

Greco-Roman Religions: An Overview


Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 3: Bodies of Literature

Introduction: Diversity in Ancient Judaism and Christianity

What Bodies of Literature are Available from Antiquity?


Early Christian Apocrypha

Rabbinic Literature

Patristic and Apostolic Literature

Conclusion: Tools for these Texts
Discussion Questions
Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 4: Accessing Ancient Sources

Introduction to Hermeneutics

Subjectivity and the Text

Interpretive Lenses 

Conclusion: Off You Go!

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 5: Ancient Judaism

Introduction: Judaism in the Second Temple Period

History and Ancient Historians


Women of the Hasmonaean and Herodian Courts

Women and Second Temple Groups



The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran


The Babatha Archives

Conclusion: So Many Unknowns

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 6: Early Jesus Movement


The Early Jesus Movement

Why a Separate Chapter on Jesus?

Jesus and Jewish/Roman Politics

Women Followers of Jesus in Paul

Women Followers of Jesus in the Gospels and Acts

Disciples, Apostles, Baptisers

Mary Magdalene

The Samaritan Woman

Conclusion: Context is Key

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 7: Religion in Daily Life: From Birth to Death

Introduction: Public Men and Private Women? Not so fast.

Beginnings: Marriage and Birth

Marriage Rituals


Middles: Daily Life


Women’s Ritual in the Home

Community Leadership




Conclusion: From History to Herstory

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 8: Women as Consumers, Characters, and Creators of Literature

Introduction: On Literature and Women

Thinking with Women

The Rise of Women Protagonists

Women Authors?

Conclusion: Women Consumers, Characters, and Creators

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 9: (Wo)manly Ways of Dying

Introduction: Martyrdom, Sacrifice, Noble Death

Martyrdom as Text

Noble Death: Socrates

Manly Martyrs, Gendered Bodies

Martyrs in 2 Maccabees

Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas

Thecla: A Failed Martyr?

Masada: Preemptive Martyrs?

Conclusion: Persecution’s Mythical Function

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading

Chapter 10: The Second Century and Beyond

Introduction: Continuities and Differences into Later Antiquity

Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue

Women Leaders in the Early Church

Women in Rabbinic Literature

Brief History of the Rabbinic Period

Conclusion: Your Suspicious and Savvy Mission

Discussion Questions

Glossary Terms

Further Reading




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Sara Parks is Assistant Professor in Biblical Studies (New Testament) at Dublin City University, Ireland. She researches gender in late Second-Temple Judaism and early Christianity. Parks is the author of Gender in the Rhetoric of Jesus: Women in Q.

Shayna Sheinfeld is a Fellow at the Frankel Institute for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, USA. Her current project examines diversity in Jewish leadership by challenging androcentric ideas of authority in both ancient sources and contemporary scholarship. Sheinfeld recently edited Gender and Second-Temple Judaism.

Meredith J.C. Warren is Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, UK, where she is Director of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. Author of Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature, Warren researches shared cultural understandings of eating in ancient narratives.