“The Brooten Phenomenon”: Moving Women from the Margins in Second-Temple and New Testament Scholarship
Although at least half the scholars entering the fields of early Judaism and nascent Christianity may now be women, and although scholarship on ancient women, on biblical and apocryphal female characters, and on the construction of femininity and masculinity in antiquity is now thriving, there remains an impermeable conceptual wall between this and what is perceived as “regular” scholarship. The largely unwritten rule, that the study of women and gender is non-mainstream or “niche,” conceptually delimits investigations into ancient women, ancient female literary characters, and the construction of gender in the Second-Temple Period and early Christianity as “ancillary” and not of general relevance. Sara Parks nicknames this problem the “Brooten Phenomenon,” after the ways in which Bernadette Brooten’s work on women leaders in the ancient synagogue has been used (or not used) over the years. Using two brief case studies from Q and from the gospel resurrection narratives, she argues that scholarship ignorant of the role of women and the construction of gender is simply poor scholarship.