The books of Esther, Ruth, the Song of Songs, Susannah, and Judith are exceptional and exciting. These books with women protagonists came to life within a strong patriarchal culture with strong gender stereotypes and multiple barriers to women. They are well known for their powerful narrative art and imagination. Are the woman protagonists in these books, feminist heroines or patriarchally idealised stooges? Or are they protest and subversive literature? These books will be introduced in this unit; the stories contained in these books are retold and analysed in their allusive complexity. We will attend to issues of identity, gender, sexuality, beauty, power, solidarity/partnership, widowhood, their representation in the visual arts, the function of these books and their contemporary relevance.

Unit code: BA3070P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Describe the contents of these books


Introduce these books and the historical critical questions surrounding them


Identify significant issues related to women of the times in which these books were produced.


Apply their findings to contemporary issues facing women.

Unit sequence

A prerequisite is a foundational unit in the Hebrew Bible


Assigned readings; Lectures; Tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

Brenner, Athalya, (ed). A Feminist Companion to Esther, Judith and Susanna (Feminist Companion to the Bible), Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1995.

________, (ed). A Feminist Companion to Esther and Ruth. Feminist Companion to the Bible (Second Series). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999.

________ and Carole Fontaine (eds). The Song of Songs. Feminist Companion to the Bible (Second Series). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2000.

Clanton Jr., Dan W. Daring, Disreputable, and Devout: Interpreting the Bible’s Women in the Arts and Music. New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2009.

Fewell, Danna and David Gunn. Compromising Redemption: Relating Characters in the Book of Ruth. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1990.

Hancock, Rebecca S. Esther and the Politics of Negotiation: Public and Private Spaces and the Figure of the Female Royal Counselor. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013. Havea, Jione and Peter Lau. Reading Ruth in Asia, IVBS. Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2015. LaCocque, Andre. The Feminine Unconventional: Four Subversive Figures in Israel's Tradition. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006. Spencer, Scott F. Song of Songs. Wisdom Commentary. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017. Newsome, Carol A, Women’s Bible Commentary. Third Ed., Twentieth Anniversary Ed., Revised and Updated. Louisville, Kentucky: WJK, 2012.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 2500 50.0
Essay 2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 16 Sep, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2020-09-16 10:31:31 +1000