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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Gender and Power in the Hebrew Bible (3 cr)
Laura Carlson Hasler
JSTU-J 203 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies (36979)
MW 4:00-6:30 pm (SY 137) 
2nd 8 week course

This course engages the concept of gender, as it is intersected with notions of ethnicity, sexuality, divine power and authorization in the Hebrew Bible. It will map the diverse logics of gender-construction in early Jewish texts and contexts with specific attentiveness to their relationship with religious power. We will compare early Judaism’s varied constructions of masculinity with broader notions of sexuality, and “nationality” in ancient Jewish and Hellenistic contexts, and look particularly at formative figures like Moses, Ruth, Deborah, David, Hosea, Xerxes, and Esther in this inquiry. We will ask: how does ancient Jewish literature’s construction of gender identity reflect, adapt, or resist the broader cultural taxonomies of gender, ethnicity, sex, and sexuality? How do depictions of visceral religious experience and suffering bodies confirm or reshape these categories? In what ways do particular and peculiar affiliations between power and gender sit at the heart of biblical narratives and how do they shape its ideational landscapes?

Selected Readings: I. Pardes, Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach (1993); R. Graybill Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets (2016); S. Moore, God’s Gym: Divine Male Bodies of the Bible (1996); R. Weems, Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets (1995).