Professor Christl M. Maier, Professor of Old Testament at Philipps-University Marburg, Germany, will speak on “Women in Biblical Wisdom Tradition: The Emergence of Cultural Stereotypes,” in the Pruyne Lecture Hall, 115 Fayerweather, on Monday, October 29, at 4:30 p.m. Her book Die ‘fremde Frau’ in Proverbien 1-9. Eine exegetische und sozial¬ge¬schichtliche Studie, (OBO 144; Fribourg/Göttingen, 1995) analyses the character of the foreign woman as counterpart of Lady Wisdom. She has published numerous articles on feminist interpretation, wisdom literature, and the prophets Jeremiah and Hosea. Her latest book is Daughter Zion, Mother Zion: Gender, Space and the Sacred in Ancient Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008). The lecture is sponsored by the Religion Department and the Willis D. Wood Fund and is free and open to the public.
The wisdom books of the Hebrew Bible are part of an enduring cultural tradition of the Ancient Near East that aims at ordering the world. A main purpose of this tradition is to instruct its recipients about accepted behavior and societal values. Therefore, persons are characterized as ‘types’ – the righteous, the fool, the wicked etc. – that can be named ‘cultural stereotypes’. The lecture focuses on the numerous female characters in the book of Proverbs and parallel texts, which are rigorously assessed with regard to their usefulness for family and society. While such stereotyping can be explained in relation to the social-historical background of the texts, it is in no way innocent but has a direct effect on the evaluation of women – to this day. From a feminist perspective, the lecture elaborates both the benefits and dangers of such stereotyping.