Joy A. Schroeder offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical story of Deborah, an authoritative judge, prophet, and war leader. For centuries, Deborah’s story has challenged readers’ traditional assumptions about the place of women in society.
Schroeder shows how Deborah’s story has fueled gender debates throughout history. An examination of the prophetess’s journey through nearly two thousand years of Jewish and Christian interpretation reveals how the biblical account of Deborah was deployed against women, for women, and by women who aspired to leadership roles in religious communities and society. Numerous women-and men who supported women’s aspirations to leadership-used Deborah’s narrative to justify female claims to political and religious authority. Opponents to women’s public leadership endeavored to define Deborah’s role as “private” or argued that she was a divinely authorized exception, not to be emulated by future generations of women.