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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Women in the New Testament World
Hylen, Susan E.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 pp. xvi + 212. $24.95

Series Information
Essentials of Biblical Studies


Description: Modern readers of the New Testament often notice its varying ideas about women. Some passages encouraged women to be submissive and remain silent. Yet in others, women characters owned property, headed households, or spoke with approval. Women in the New Testament World helps readers understand this conflicting evidence. It argues that social norms of the time encouraged traditional feminine virtues. However, as Susan Hylen argues, women in the culture enacted these virtues in a variety of ways, including active leadership in households, associations, and cities. In contrast to earlier approaches that divided the evidence into groups that either allowed or forbade women's leadership, this book points to a tension that was pervasive across different groups and regions of the Roman world. Society widely viewed women as inferior to men yet applauded their active pursuit of familial and civic interests. Thus, it was not the case that some women led while others were silent; instead, women were praised for modesty at the same time as they exerted influence in their communities. Elaborating on this rich historical background, Hylen illuminates new possibilities in New Testament texts.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Greco-Roman Period, Social-Scientific Approaches

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Review by Colleen Conway
Published 10/24/2019
Citation: Colleen Conway, review of Susan E. Hylen, Women in the New Testament World, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).


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