Gender and Sacred Textures
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: Feb 1, 2025