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Tamara Cohn Eskenazi
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles, CA 90007-3717)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2013 – 8/31/2013

Out from the Shadows: Biblical Women and Women in the Persian Period, 6th-4th Centuries BCE

Representations of women in the Bible continue to shape the cultural underpinnings of Western traditions. In biblical literature that emerged in the Persian period (6th-4th cent. BCE), women play an especially prominent role. My project investigates the presuppositions and projections about women in these texts, as well as from extra-biblical sources (such as material from classical Athens and the archives from Elephantine, a 5th cent. BCE Jewish community in Egypt). I analyze the relationship between these representations and the specific socio-political circumstances in Judah, a province that lost its independence and became subject to imperial Persian rule. In particular, I seek (1) to identify assumptions about women in the literature, (2) to understand how these relate to actual lives of women at the time, and (3) to show how the foregrounding of women in these texts constitutes a strategy for renegotiating broader communal structures and authority in relation to imperial rule.