Meredith Warren deposited Who is “Worthy of Honour”? Women as Elders in Late Second Temple Period Literature in the group Biblical Studies on Humanities Commons 4 months, 2 weeks ago
Groups and individuals known as “elders” (Greek: presbyteros, gerousia; Hebrew: zaqan) are often found in ancient Jewish texts and inscriptions. Their ubiquity in such texts and inscriptions is accompanied by very little information about their actual function. Generally, this may be because we have some kind of impression that a group of older men in patriarchal and androcentric societies might form a kind of local authority and would naturally be referred to as elders. In the works known as Judith and Susanna, female protagonists are set against or in contrast to elders. There is a presumption that these elders are an influential, all-male, locally authoritative, collective. This article will explore power dynamics within these texts where the elders function as a specific narrative device, often as a foil to exemplary female characters, and consider how this gendered reading of such a group forms contemporary understandings of ancient Judaism.