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“Historical-Critical Ministry? The Biblical Studies Classroom as Restorative Secular Space”

Parks, Sara

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Sara Parks


This article revisits the past decades of scholarly use (or rather non-use) of Bernadette Brooten’s _Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue_ to reveal that citation practices in biblical studies—or any field—can be inherently political (e.g. misogynistic) whilst maintaining a pretense of scientific objectivity. As a corrective, the author calls for the abandonment of the myth of neutrality in the biblical studies classroom. She argues that rape is only one end of a long spectrum of behaviours that silence; at the other, more subtle end of that spectrum, and all along it, are thousands of lesser instances of silencing and diminishing that occur in the classroom, that are gentler extensions of the notion that women’s bodies do not belong to them, that men are the default human beings, and that women are valuable only insofar as they are pleasing or useful from a male standpoint. Parks advocates a biblical studies pedagogy that intentionally upholds inclusion and diversity in its curriculum, its group dynamics, and its citation practices, even (or especially) within institutions that do not. This is especially important given the prevalence of survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence in every classroom; maintaining a neutral stance implicitly re-inscribes and encourages the status quo of rape culture.


Parks, S. (2019). “Historical-Critical Ministry? The Biblical Studies Classroom as Restorative Secular Space”. New Blackfriars, 100(1086), 229-244.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 29, 2018
Publication Date 2019-03
Deposit Date Jan 23, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jan 23, 2019
Journal New Blackfriars
Print ISSN 0028-4289
Electronic ISSN 1741-2005
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 100
Issue 1086
Pages 229-244
Keywords Biblical Studies, Pedagogy, Gender, Historical Criticism, #MeToo, Citation Politics, Bernadette Brooten, Women in Early Judaism, Women in the Bible, Women in Leadership
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