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Gender and Sacred Textures

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This anthology asks if or how the handling, use, and embodied enactments of sacred texts regulate, entangle, occlude, tolerate, or even subvert religious and gendered identities? While many studies have looked at the semantic content of sacred texts to answer this question, the anthology mends a knowledge gap by looking at the effects on gender that follow both from uses of sacred texts as directly accessible, material objects and from embodied enactments of sacred texts in indirect ways. To signify the embodied enactment of sacred texts, not directly at hand, the editor Marianne Schleicher coins the term “sacred texture” in the introduction to extend sacred text studies to capture both the textuality of poetic and narrative expressions in oral cultures and how most lay people, often women, have expressed their religiosity through indirect uses of sacred texts through bodily enactments.

The anthology offers insights into Old Norse women’s composition of oral sacred textures rendering their gender fluid, into how a sacred text in Numbers 5 is used to handle a woman and simultaneously bolsters the masculinities of the involved men, into how Jewish women through centuries have been intelligible as such by enabling men’s direct access to sacred texts or by bodily enacting sacred textures themselves, into how both Christian women and sacred texts should leave adornments behind to embody Jerome’s ascetic ideals, into how four women in contemporary American Judaism write Esther scrolls according to halakhic rules to become intelligible as scribes despite their female gender, into how American Evangelical women have compensated for the absence of a directly accessible Bible at work by bodily enacting fragments of the Bible, and into how Muslim family members in Denmark bodily enact and navigate Qur’anic prescriptions on filial piety up against its prescriptions concerning the naked body.

Published: Mar 1, 2025


Section Chapter Authors
Gender and Sacred Text(ure)s: Extending the Field of Sacred Text Studies Marianne Schleicher
Chapter 1
Old Norse Women’s Use of Sacred Textures in Crisis Situations Emma C. Sørlie Jørgensen
Chapter 2
Drinkable Ink or Womb-Destroying Words? A Solution for Suspected Adultery in Numbers 5:11–31 Rosanne Liebermann
Chapter 3
Jewish Women and Sacred Text(ure)s: Making Women’s Religious Agency in Jewish Book Culture Intelligible Marianne Schleicher
Chapter 4
The Gender of Purple Manuscripts and the Makeup of Sacred Scriptures Thomas Rainer
Chapter 5
“Then Queen Esther Daughter of Abihail Wrote”: Gendered Agency and Ritualized Writing in Jewish Scriptural Practice Joanna Homrighausen
Chapter 6
“I Left My Bible At Home…”: Evangelical Women’s Bodies as Biblical Text in the Workplace during the 1980s Rachel E. C. Beckley
Chapter 7
Doing Piety through Care: Embodied Enactments of the Qur’an and Gender Perceptions in Muslim families in Contemporary Denmark Abir Mohamad Ismail