“Social sciences” is the very broad label for the diverse academic disciplines that seek to investigate human social structures, interrelations, and behaviors extending from relationships between human individuals to interactions between groups within large-scale complex societies. These social disciplines use a range of methodologies that are to some extent empirical and, thereby, in some way analogous with methodologies applied in the natural (or hard) sciences. These methodologies, however, are variegated, ranging from quantitative and positivist approaches, characterized by accepting as authoritative only information derived from either sensory experience or logical (such as mathematical) treatments (e.g., statistical surveys), to qualitative and interpretivist approaches, such as ethnography. Among the social sciences are social (or cultural) anthropology, archaeology, political science, sociology, psychology, economics, social history, and cultural studies—a list that is far from exhaustive. Reflecting the field’s tendency to inter- and multidisciplinarity, new subdisciplines (e.g., neuropsychology and sociobiology) continue to emerge.

While social sciences began to form during the period of intellectual ferment known as the Enlightenment (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), they acquired more firmly defined contours in the early twentieth century. Towering intellectual giants such as Karl Marx (1818–1883), Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), and Max Weber (1864–1920) shaped the social sciences. Marx influenced profoundly the disciplines now known as economics and political science, while Durkheim and Weber are widely regarded as the founders of sociology. Also deeply influential for the social sciences and roughly contemporaneous are Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908–2009), a pioneering figure in anthropology, and Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the father of psychoanalysis. By now, social sciences are firmly embedded in academic consciousness and institutions (as well as beyond them).

Social-scientific criticism has also infused biblical studies. This takes a variety of forms and often merges traditional approaches (e.g., theological, philological, or historical-critical approaches) with newer approaches such as feminist, ideological-critical, womanist, and queer approaches. Sometimes the social-scientific turn takes the form of applying a heuristic model or positivist data developed in the context of one or other of the social sciences to biblical texts, but more frequently the process is less formal and more experimental, reflecting biblical studies’ susceptibility to ideas, concepts, vocabulary, and ways of thinking emerging from the social sciences. Importantly, social-scientific methods focus more on the world behind the text than the world in the text. They often challenge the notion that the text is reliable for historical reconstruction, probing the social factors unmentioned in and even deliberately elided by biblical accounts—for example, the voices of the nonliterate and members of low socio-economic classes. Social-scientific readings of biblical texts tend to emphasize the human origins and contexts of biblical texts and thereby challenge theological claims and assumptions of historicity. Towards this endeavor, findings from archaeology have been particularly significant.

The quest for reconstructing the social world in the background of biblical texts can be traced back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Examples are the formulations of the documentary hypothesis by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), theologian William Robertson Smith’s (1846–1894) foregrounding of comparative study, Sigmund Mowinckel’s (1884–1965) location of psalms in the cultic context of a New Year festival, theologian Johannes Pedersen’s (1883–1977) attention to social contexts, and the biblical archaeology of William Foxwell Albright (1891–1971). But it has only been since the 1960s and particularly the 1970s that a more self-conscious absorption of theoretical concepts from the social sciences has transpired in a critical reaction to these earlier figures. Central to this have been, among others, George Mendenhall’s essay “The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine” (1962), social anthropologist Mary Douglas’s foray into biblical purity laws in Purity and Danger (1966), John Rogerson’s Anthropology and the Old Testament (1978), and Norman Gottwald’s material-sociological volume The Tribes of Yahweh (1979).

Liberation theology, associated particularly with Gustavo Gutiérrez (1974) and the context of Latin America, emerged concurrently with the critical application of social-scientific methods to biblical texts. Rogerson (2006, pp. 18–19) may well be correct in recognizing the impact of contemporaneous social justice movements (such as the U.S. civil rights movements of the 1960s and the 1968 student uprisings in Europe) in the new attentiveness to matters of class in biblical texts. Moreover, with the force of second-wave feminism in this same era came a new emphasis on social constructions pertaining to gender, particularly on the roles and oppressions of women. This then influenced various strains of ideological criticism and also gave rise to explorations of masculinities. The notion that meaning is subjective as well as constructed by social forces has continued to inspire new readings shaped by social sciences, such as postcolonial, queer, and womanist readings. As part of this the social world not just behind but also in front of the text has come to the fore.

In what follows, I offer examples of social-scientific approaches to biblical texts that apply methods, studies, data, or ideas from social anthropology, psychology/psychoanalysis, archaeology, and gender and cultural studies. These serve to provide a sample of how social-scientific approaches to the Bible have intersected with gender studies.

Social Anthropology.

Social anthropology has been particularly influential in social-scientific studies of gender in biblical texts. The distinctive methodology of this social science is variously called fieldwork, participant observation, or ethnography: the practice of gathering information firsthand by observing human subjects as well as closely interacting with them over an extended period. Emerging in the nineteenth century in a context of colonialism and influenced by sociocultural variants of the currents of thought that precipitated Darwin’s theory of evolution, early social anthropologists attempted to discern “elementary” forms of human institutions by studying mostly numerically small, face-to-face, non-Western communities. Over time there have been profound shifts in the discipline. One has been a shift from its tendency to consider itself primarily scientific and objective toward more interpretative and humanistic approaches. Another has been a shift in focus from so-called (and misnamed) elementary (or traditional or primitive) societies toward a broader array of human communities, including those of modern, Western settings. Social anthropology, however, has retained its emphasis on ethnography and remained multidisciplinary in that most practitioners are anthropologists of something in particular and somewhere in particular (e.g., marriage rituals among the Bedouin of Algeria) with some specialized background in the history, previous ethnographic investigation, and languages of their chosen region.

Due to a notion that ethnographic research in small-scale, face-to-face societies captures values akin to the societies reflected in ancient texts, social anthropological studies have had a considerable impact on both classical and biblical studies. Biblical archaeologist Jennie Ebeling’s research on women in antiquity, for instance, draws heavily on the fieldwork of anthropologist Hilma Granqvist, who documented the lives of the villagers of Artas, a small settlement near Bethlehem, in the first half of the twentieth century. Ebeling argues that for all the many differences that exist between Iron Age I (beginning ca. 1300 B.C.E. and the putative context of many biblical narratives, e.g., Judges) and life in Artas in the 1920s and 1930s, these small-scale, rural communities and the similarities of climatic and terrestrial conditions lend themselves to comparison and analogy.

Hebrew Bible and New Testament studies have enthusiastically embraced the ethnographic studies conducted mainly in circum-Mediterranean countries espousing honor and shame as pivotal or core social values. According to these studies—a sample of which is contained in a volume edited by J. G. Peristiany and assertively titled Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (1965)—men and women who are not closely related either by blood (consanguines) or marriage (affines) lead separated lives. Ties of kinship are strong, and individuals’ moral obligations are primarily concentrated on maintaining or advancing the honor of the family. Men do so by means of their public standing or publicly acknowledged reputation, which is derived first through antecedence (hence, a good reputation, or name, is to some degree inherited) and second through prowess. While the societies described in these studies are hierarchical and while it is honorable to submit to someone with more honor, among relative equals, men are expected to contest for and defend their honor through prowess in zero-sum competitions.

Women’s honor, meanwhile, is called shame—in the positive sense. Positive shame determines women’s reputation, claim to pride, and stature in both the family and the wider community. Unlike men’s honor, it is a passive value and associated above all with women’s sexuality. It is determined above all by virginity before marriage and continence thereafter. Shame exercises constraint on women’s behavior and creates an acute sensitivity to public opinion, so that even any suggestion or implication of sexual misconduct must be avoided. Different from men, who are expected to be competitive, the qualities conferring women’s honor (i.e., positive shame) include shyness and emotional restraint. But there is also a negative meaning of “shame,” expressing the diametric opposite of honor: namely, profound indignity or humiliation incurred when honor is diminished or destroyed. Claudia Camp helpfully refers to “the shame-by-which-one-must-be-bound in order to avoid the shame-that-destroys” (1991, p. 5). The most damaging source of this negative shame is the sexual misconduct of women. If a woman’s positive shame is lost, it can never be recovered. This shame, moreover, is so powerfully defiling that it contaminates not only a woman herself but also her kin. Because a man’s honor is so inextricably tied up with the sexual purity of his female relatives (rather than with his own), women’s lives in honor-shame societies tend to be circumscribed.

Johannes Pedersen (1926) identified honor and shame as interactive and social core values of the Bible long before the emergence of the anthropological studies of Peristiany and others but did not emphasize the gender dimension. Instead—and indicative of the theologically informed nature of his approach—Pedersen aligned honor with the heaviness of the soul that receives divine blessing and shame with an absence of blessing—an empty soul and diminished social status. He acknowledged a progression from an earlier, agonistic warrior type of honor (e.g., of such men as Jephthah, who fight for and gain honor and of women such as Abigail who exercise wit and initiative to achieve their ends) to a later type, where honorable men are motivated by social harmony and obtaining property, whereas women are reduced to little more than their father’s or husband’s possession.

Over time, however, the gender-dimension of honor-shame so dominant in the ethnographic studies began to exert an effect on biblical studies. Hence, anthropologist Julian Pitt-Rivers (1977) examined narratives of the Bible in the light of ethnographic observations in the Mediterranean region. He considered the story of Shechem and Dinah (Genesis 34) a turning point in the Israelites’ adoption of the honor-shame value system. Not too long after this, biblical scholars, too, embraced the honor-shame model. Camp (1991) applied the model to account for the preoccupation, bordering on neurosis, concerning daughters’ capacity to stain male honor, evident in the apocryphal book of Ben Sira. Ken Stone (1996) illuminated how male-male competition for honor utilizes females as conduits in the Deuteronomistic History.

The popularity of the honor-shame model in biblical studies reached its height in the 1990s. Hence, J. H. Neyrey (1991) enthusiastically claimed that “It is truly an understatement to say that the whole of Luke’s Gospel, almost every piece of social interaction, should be viewed through the lens of honor and shame,” and “seeing [Jesus’s] life through the lens of honor and shame, we begin to view it from the native’s perspective and to appreciate the social dynamic as natives see it” (p. 64). There was even a special volume of the journal Semeia titled Honor and Shame in the World of the Bible (1996). By this time, however, there were also voices of caution from within the discipline of social anthropology itself, pointing out that the meanings of “honor” and “shame” vary considerably from cultural context to cultural context (Herzfeld, 1980) and that there often exist considerable discrepancies between, on the one hand, observable behavior, and, on the other, what people (and, by extension, texts) claim (Wikan, 1984).

The subject of shame has also been approached in contradistinction to guilt, rather than honor. Shame-cultures (wherein people are particularly sensitized to external sanctions, such as the disapproval of other community members) contrasted with guilt-cultures (wherein people respond to internalized sanctions) have been analyzed in social anthropological studies, such as those by Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. These designations have been absorbed into biblical studies (e.g., Daube 1969)—though with much less alacrity than have the honor-shame studies.

Psychology and Psychoanalysis.

Most shame-guilt discussion in biblical studies draws on the social sciences of psychology and psychoanalysis rather than social anthropology. Psychology, using empirical methods, aims to discern mental and behavioral traits of human activity, including pathological forms, with a view to assessing and, if pertinent, treating them. Consequently, psychologists are scientific investigators and sometimes also mental health experts that address social, behavioral, and cognitive manifestations.

Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, is the investigation of particular psychological pathologies. While Freud’s methods and theories have been much reformed (notably by Jacques Lacan [1901–1981]), psychoanalysis continues to expound the following key claims: (1) events in early childhood have a particularly formative effect on subsequent mental and behavioral development; (2) the unconscious has a profound influence on mental well-being; (3) conflicts between the conscious and unconscious can result in mental and emotional disturbance; and (4) by bringing early influential (and often traumatic) experiences from the unconscious into the conscious (through such methods as dream analysis and free association), such conflicts can, with the guidance of trained therapists, be resolved.

Psychoanalytic approaches tend to begin with close investigation of an individual’s (often aberrant) behavior and then map this onto more generalized psychic phenomena. Hence, Freud identified the Oedipus complex—that is, a stage of psychosexual development in boys typically occurring around the age of three to six years, when a boy’s repressed unconscious drives supposedly revolve around a desire sexually to possess his mother—as a universal phenomenon in young boys, which could explain more widely observed developmental behaviorisms. In more recent times both the Western-centric assumptions of Freud’s claims and his primary focus on males, often to the exclusion or misrepresentation of female experience, have been widely critiqued. Psychoanalysis is even widely designated a pseudoscience, or as neither scientific nor social-scientific. Nevertheless, psychoanalysis remains influential—including in biblical studies. Just as social anthropologist Pitt-Rivers used the Bible in order to retroject his observations onto antiquity, so Freud also turned to biblical narratives in order to construct the case that his ideas concerning, for example, conscious-unconscious intrapsychic conflict, have wide, even universal application over a considerable passage of time—most famously and extensively so in his final monograph, Moses and Monotheism (1939).

The topics of guilt and shame prevalent in Freud’s writings continue to be discussed in psychological and psychoanalytic interpretations of the Bible. In such examinations, internal versus external sanctions (the juxtaposition central to the anthropological studies) are important, yet shame is associated more closely with very early childhood and the emergence of the ego, whereas guilt is associated with the later developmental stage of the superego when the desires and values of the parents are internalized. The first mention of shame is in Genesis 2:25 in the story of Adam and Eve. Freud himself (surprisingly perhaps) published nothing on this text.

In more recent times, however, it has become a popular focus for psychoanalytic interpretation. One example is Lyn M. Bechtel’s (1995) discussion depicting this first instance of shame as describing the psychic development of moving from childhood to self-aware adulthood. For Bechtel (as for Freud) the particular (i.e., an account of the first human couple) has wider application (i.e., it describes larger patterns of psychic growth). Anna Piskorowski’s (1992) feminist-Lacanian and Ilona Rashkow’s (2000) feminist-Freudian readings introduce feminist criticism into psychoanalytic exegesis. Piskorowski’s interpretation argues that Genesis is a tale that inculcates social and family norms. Rashkow identifies a dysfunctional family where the authoritarian father (God) displaces his own sexual longings on to his daughter (Eve) and where paternal jealousy regarding his children’s (Adam and Eve’s) love for their mother transpires in the repression of the mother, with only the presence of the tree and the serpent hinting at her once powerful presence as a fertility nature goddess.

Feminist Archaeology.

Feminist archaeology offers another example of how social sciences have been absorbed into biblical studies. Just as the feminist psychoanalysis of Rashkow adapts Freudian ideas in order to acknowledge and depict women’s perspectives and experiences, so feminist sensibilities have also influenced biblical archaeology. This is represented most notably by Carol L. Meyers. In some respects, Meyers’s Discovering Eve (1988) fits into broader patterns and trends in biblical archaeology: first, it moves away from an earlier aim of biblical archaeology to affirm depictions in the biblical text and instead lets the archaeological witness speak for itself; and second, it focuses less on the “celebrities” of antiquity and more on the lives of regular people.

Both of these trends are evident in the work of other biblical archaeologists, such as William G. Dever. Hence, the title of his textbook The Lives of Ordinary People (2011) makes the point explicitly. Dever states unequivocally at the outset that “the archaeological data, not the textual data, will be the primary source initially. To be sure, the textual data will be considered…. But the biblical texts will be subsidiary and will often prove to be of minimal importance” (Dever, 2011, pp. vi–vii). Dever discusses women’s lives most fully in a section titled “A Theoretical Rural House,” which refers to “recent studies by women biblicists and archaeologists” (p. 164) and to domestic tasks such as bread making, domestic pottery, and weaving (pp. 159–169). Meyers’s book, however, is much more squarely focused on women’s roles, and her methodology combines close and critical analysis of biblical texts with sociological and archaeological findings. Like the feminist-psychoanalysts discussed above, Meyers is drawn to the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2—3 and focuses on this narrative in order to illustrate how the paradigms for female roles in biblical texts reflect the perspectives and concerns of urban elite males. Like Dever, Meyers argues that the biblical witness is not accurate, particularly when it comes to the lives and concerns of nonelites. Drawing instead on archaeological evidence of rural life in antiquity, Meyers argues for a much less marginal presence of women than the biblical text might suggest. Consequently, her investigation makes the case for a wide range of women’s household functions (some of them very significant) as well as for women’s roles beyond the domestic sphere, such as economic and jural-legal roles.

In her later work, Meyers (2009) challenges the notion that the societies behind the biblical texts constitute patriarchies, in which women are (only) subordinated. Instead, she advocates a more nuanced heuristic model, which she calls “heterarchy,” which recognizes the possibility of “multiple systems and multiple loci of power, with women as well as men shaping society” (p. 98). Meyers has been joined by other feminist archaeologists, among them Susan Ackerman (2003), Eleanor Ferris Beach (2005), and Jennie Ebeling (2010). In The Jezebel Letters, Beach not only uses evidence from archaeology to reconstruct women’s lives, but also supplements this with extensive fictional reconstructions.

The practice of naming women characters unnamed in biblical texts or of imaginatively reconstructing biblical women’s lives with recourse to scholarship is well established in feminist biblical criticism and represents another trend in biblical gender studies. One well-known example is Anita Diamant’s 1997 novel The Red Tent, which retells some of the patriarchal narratives of Genesis from the perspective of Jacob’s daughter Dinah. The aim of this practice is to draw attention to the suppression of women and their experiences and to resist this suppression actively and dynamically.

Gender and Cultural Studies.

In the area of cultural studies, notions of the social construction of gender and sexuality are increasingly prominent, largely thanks to Michel Foucault’s three-volume The History of Sexuality. This seminal work was profoundly shaped by the social sciences and argues, for example, that Western sexuality was socially constructed by such forces as capitalism.

Influenced by second-wave feminism, the predominant gender emphasis in 1970s and 1980s biblical criticism was on feminine figures. This period was marked by the polarization between feminist interpretations that emphasize positive depictions of feminine figures, such as Phyllis Trible’s essays on Eve and Ruth in her significant text, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (1978), and feminist interpretations pointing out how biblical texts marginalize and oppress women characters, such as Trible’s essays in Texts of Terror (1984). The latter tendency has been particularly influential, seeking to demonstrate not only how biblical texts such as Judges 11 and 19, or Hosea 1—3 and such examples of the prophetic woman metaphor as Ezekiel 16 and 23, harm both the women in texts and also the actual women in front of the text. Two representative samples appear in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets (1995). The first is Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes’s (1995) examination of Ezekiel 23. Here she advocates an F-reading—that is, a reading focalized by a feminine reader—which forcefully discloses the abusive nature of the woman metaphor in this chapter, in that it characterizes the sexual abuse of girls as their own fault (Ezek 23:3). The second is Naomi Graetz’s (1995) analysis of the punishment of Hosea’s wife, which Graetz associates with domestic abuse and battered wife syndrome, consequently deeming this metaphor acutely toxic to actual women. There has been some disagreement among feminist biblical scholars as to whether metaphor ought to be read (too?) literally. Christl Maier, for example, emphasizes that the prophetic woman metaphors pertain to “fictional, female character[s] in a fictional relationship with God” (2008, p. 112).

Over time, and particularly since the 1990s, there have been three more interesting developments within the intersection between biblical studies and gender. First, feminist criticism has been called to account by womanist African American women theologians. Womanist criticism identifies and resists the tendency in second-wave feminism to treat as normative, or absolute, the perspectives of middle-class white Western women. Subsequently, this approach has developed (and been injected by postcolonial criticism) into readings distinctive to mujeristas (Central and Latin American women) and readings by Asian and African women theologians. All these interpretations acknowledge and advocate perspectives of nonwhites and emphasize class/economic hierarchy as a significant interpretational category alongside female gender. Second, in response to the feminist push for acknowledging that women’s experiences are more variegated and complex than just “other” vis-à-vis men’s experiences, more attention has come to be focused, too, on variegated (including nonhegemonic) masculinities and men’s experiences. Third, in what Marie-Theres Wacker calls a “deconstructive turn in feminism” (2006, p. 642), postfeminism has absorbed also lesbian, gay, and queer (that is gender-confusing readings resisting gender bifurcation) interpretations of the Bible.

The term “womanism” was first used by author Alice Walker. With reference to biblical criticism and gender, it is an approach drawing on both feminist criticism and black theology that seeks to empower and liberate women of color. It does so by identifying either positive but neglected constructions of women of color in the biblical text or racially discriminating passages. These passages are then critically examined, challenged, and sometimes reconstructed and revised. Womanist criticism first grew to prominence among African American scholars in the United States, notably, Renita Weems. Weems’s Just a Sister Away (1988) brings race in power relations that concern women (such as those between Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 16 and 20)) to the fore and also motivates contemporary readers of the biblical texts to recognize and redress social injustice. Since then womanism has come to embrace also other women of color, based both in the United States and beyond. Womanist criticism has reexamined feminist interpretations and often cast a critical light. Hence, the many positive feminist evaluations of Ruth, for instance, such as the aforementioned by Trible, have come to be challenged. African American biblical scholar Wil Gafney (2009), for example, notes particularly Ruth’s Moabite ethnicity and builds a strong case that Ruth is abducted in rape marriage and sexually exploited. In the course of her argument Gafney brings in parallels of “forced exogamous procreation and unwelcome conjugal unions” from modern-day Rwanda, Sudan, and Ethiopia (2009, p. 33). Somewhat similarly, Asian American scholar Gale Yee (2009) notes affinities between the stereotypes associated with Asian women and the idealized depiction of Ruth. Both, Yee argues, are depicted as model minorities. Far from regarding this as desirable, Yee points out the dangers and reification of such depictions. Both Gafney and Yee are sensitized by their own social location, and both refer to social scientific observation and data from contemporary times and apply this critically to the biblical text. In doing so, both navigate between the world behind and in front of the biblical text. Such methods appear also in New Testament studies and outside of the United States. One example is the work of Musa Dube (1992), a biblical scholar based in Botswana, whose analysis and retelling of the story of Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) is transformed by bringing it into dialogue with traditional African storytelling and by addressing the story particularly to women of southern Africa.

In recent times there has also been a marked interest in masculinities. The idea that masculinity and femininity are not integral or fixed but shaped by social forces is evident already in the work of Stone on honor and shame (1996); hence, Stone describes how in Judges 19 a male in a homosexual act is perceived as assuming a position that is, according to the cultural values reflected in the text, allotted only to females (i.e., of penetrated sexual object rather than penetrating sexual subject). As Stone goes on to say, such a man, in effect, becomes “feminized” (or “demasculinized”) and, consequently, dishonored—the reason being that masculinity is, by implication, not only different from but also superior to femininity (1996, pp. 79–81). Two more explorations of masculinity in biblical texts are David J. A. Clines’s “David the Man: The Construction of Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible” (1995), contrasting contemporary ideals of masculinity with those implied in the David story and drawing attention to how this can subvert the reading process, and Stephen D. Moore’s God’s Gym (1996), navigating both Hebrew Bible and New Testament alongside the modern preoccupation with the male body image. The idea originating in feminism that women are not “other” (i.e., more than “not men”) but subjects in their own right with their own rights, speaking with diverse voices, has, therefore, led to a similar movement with regard to masculine identities.

Further examples of gendered identities appear in queer studies. Queer studies emerged from LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) studies and again emphasizes the social and cultural construction of both gender and sexuality. Rather than interpreting gender and sexuality in terms of a masculinity/femininity duality, however, queer studies problematizes and sometimes destabilizes the topic yet further. Hence Deborah Rooke (2009), for instance, proposes also the idea of intersex. In her article on the incest laws of Leviticus, consequently, she accounts for men’s avoidance of certain female family members by suggesting that such women, having had sex with a male relative of the man addressed, in these laws effectively become masculinized and thereby intersex and, hence, taboo. Queer readings are often highly experimental and among the most creative in contemporary biblical criticism. One example demonstrating this is the collection of essays in Bible Trouble (2011).

Finally, some social-scientific approaches to the Bible bring into dialogue biblical texts and images and popular culture. This has again yielded highly creative interpretations pertaining to gender. Examples include Roland Boer’s interpretations in Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (1999), where he considers Song of Songs alongside pornography, Ezekiel alongside heavy metal music, and the biblical David alongside the roles of actor Keanu Reeves. A further example is Katie Edwards’s examination of Genesis 2—3 alongside depictions of Adam and Eve in advertising.

Conclusion.

As this impressionistic sample has demonstrated, social-scientific approaches, particularly from the 1960s and 1970s onward, have applied and adapted models, constructs, ideas, and vocabulary from a range of social sciences in often highly creative and experimental ways. Models and methods from social anthropology and political science were applied in biblical studies early on, with social justice movements of the 1960s bringing a focus on class and social hierarchy. Also emphasizing social justice, second-wave feminism was forceful in injecting both psychoanalytical approaches and biblical archaeology, casting a critical focus on women’s lives and roles. Over time, scholarship has incorporated critical sensitivity to divergent masculinities, sexualities, and the perspectives of women of color. Alongside this, not only the social world behind but also in front of the text has come into play. Social-scientific approaches, consequently, are among the most multifarious and multidisciplinary in terms of critical examinations of gender and the Bible.

[See also ECONOMICS, subentry HEBREW BIBLE; FEMINISM, subentry SECOND-WAVE FEMINISM; IMAGERY, GENDERED, subentry PROPHETIC LITERATURE; MASCULINITY STUDIES; MUJERISTA CRITICISM; PATRIARCHY/KYRIARCHY; QUEER THEORY; READER-ORIENTED CRITICISM; SEXUALITY; and WOMANIST CRITICISM.]

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Johanna Stiebert