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Feminist scholarship on the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible has its historical roots in various women’s movements throughout the ages, especially in the first women’s movement of the 19th century. It became a systematic academic endeavor only in the 1970s, when the second feminist movement took hold in Western-Northern societies such as in the United States. It was then, in the 1970s, that femini scholars with formal academic credentials in the fields of biblical, theological, and religious studies grounded their scholarship in the demands, challenges, and insights of the second feminist movement. This movement gained strength, prominence, and power during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and came to define itself as the continuation of the first women’s movement of the 19th century, when feminists fought for the women’s suffrage, often in conjunction with the abolitionist movement. With the reemergence of feminist voices in the 1970s, after almost seventy years of silence, repression, and forgetfulness, women no longer lacked academic, intellectual, and scholarly credentials, unlike earlier generations of feminists who had faced systematic exclusion from social, political, economic, religious, and educational institutions. Now, for the first time in Western societies, feminist Hebrew Bible scholars examined, deconstructed, and reconstructed androcentric assumptions, biases, and perspectives in biblical literature and the various histories of interpretation. They used the standard scholarly tools, procedures, and methodologies practiced in the academic field of biblical studies. Importantly, feminist scholars placed women, gender, and sexualities in the center of their exegetical work. The field in the early 21st century includes feminist exegetes from around the globe who connect gender analysis with other social categories such as race, class, and geopolitical location. Since the early 1970s, then, feminist scholarship on the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible has produced new ways of thinking about, learning from, and reading the sacred texts of Christianity and Judaism and the extensive histories of interpretation.

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Now the reader has access to scholarship that reclaims the scriptural images for these and other women. It does so by including a feminist perspective, an approach that seeks to understand a text specifically for the way it functions as a representation of women’s lives and experiences and also to evaluate whether sexism is encoded in the text. The result, we hope, makes Women in Scripture an indispensable companion for anyone studying the Bible.

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What has granted these women access to the sacred written word - which transcends time and death - has been their amalgamation of sacred history and sacred geography by means of their pilgrimages with their physical bodies with that Bible in their hands.