What does the Bible tell us of the roles of men and women in ancient society and about the importance of gender? From a literary standpoint, do the texts necessarily condemn or condone certain behaviors and lifestyles? In conjunction with the Annual Conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, swissnex San Francisco invites top scholars to discuss the role of sexuality in the Bible and answer some of these questions.
The evening features Thomas Römer, Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Faculty of Theology and History of Religions at the University of Lausanne. His book L’homosexualité dans le Proche Orient ancien et la Bible (Homosexuality in the Ancient Orient), focuses on the Bible as a historical source for analyzing how ancient societies viewed relations between men.
Konrad Schmid, Professor of Old Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Zurich and author of Genesis and the Moses Story: Israel’s Dual Origins in the Hebrew Bible (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2010), presents the Paradise Story in Genesis 2-3 and its view of sexuality and immortality. And Sarah Shectman, author of Women in the Pentateuch: A Feminist and Source-Critical Analysis (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009), looks at the varied attitudes toward women’s sexuality in different parts of the Bible, such as the laws in the Pentateuch that treat women’s sexuality as a possession, belonging either to a father or husband, versus the freer view in the Song of Songs where the protagonist appears more in control of her own body. Steven McKenzie moderates the discussion.
6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm event begins
8:30 pm reception & networking
10:00 pm doors close
Thomas Römer was born in Mannheim, Germany and completed his studies in theology and religious science at the University of Heidelberg, Tübingen and in Paris. He is Professor of Hebrew Bible at the Faculty of Theology and History of Religions of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Since 2007, he is also Professor of Biblical Studies at the College de France, Paris, where he acts as chair of the “milieux bibliques.” He is the author and editor of several books focusing on the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets, including The So-Called Deuteronomistic History. A Sociological, Historical and Literary Introduction, translated into French, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. He dedicates part of his research to analyzing the role of sexuality in the Bible and has published a number of related books related on this theme, among them Dieu obscur. Le sexe, la cruauté et la violence dans l’Ancien Testament (English translation forthoming), and L’homosexualité dans le Proche-Orient et la Bible.
Sarah Shectman holds a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She has taught at Binghamton University (SUNY) and San Francisco Theological Seminary, and is currently a lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles. Her book, Women in the Pentateuch: A Feminist and Source-Critical Analysis (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009), is about varied depictions of women in the first five books of the Bible. Her current research focuses on the social status and class of women in the legal collections of the Pentateuch.
Konrad Schmid was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Between 1985 and 1990 he completed his studies in theology at the University of Zurich, Greifswald, and Munich and received his Ph.D. in Theology in 1995. From 1999-2002 he was Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Since 2002, he has been Professor of Old Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. His publications include “Buchgestalten des Jeremiabuches” (WMANT 72, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1996), “Erzväter und Exodus” (WMANT 81, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1999), “Der eine Gott und die Götter” (AThANT 82, Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 2003, edited together with Manfred Oeming), and “A Farewell to the Yahwist? The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Discussion” (SBL Symposium Series 34, Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006, edited together with Thomas B. Dozeman).
Steven L. McKenzie is Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. He holds a B.A. and a M.Div. from Abilene Christian University and the Th.D. from Harvard University. His research and teaching interests include: the history of ancient Israel, the literature of the Hebrew Bible, the Hebrew language, the Dead Sea Scrolls, methods of biblical interpretation, and archaeology. He is a past president of the board of governors of the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at the University of Memphis. He is also a co-leader of the Middle East Travel Seminar, which tours Syria, Jordan, the Sinai, Israel, and Greece each Spring. He is the co-author of The Uncensored Bible: The Bawdy and Naughty Bits of the Good Book (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2008).
Photo: Myleen Hollero