Announcing: “Homosociality, Male Friendship, and Women in Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities” by Rabbi Shulamit Thiede

Routledge, one of the world’s leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences, has recently offered Rabbi Shulamit Thiede a contract for a new book.

Much has been written about the role, control and abuse of women in Hebrew Bible. Do biblical texts demonstrate that female characters supported, resisted or were simply victimized by male ones? Do women like Ruth or Tamar, who resist or take matters into their own hands, end up supporting male Israelite aims and goals only to be shunted aside when their functions are fulfilled?

Scholars who have focused on violence against women in bible have explored the role of woman’s voice and agency and male perfidy.  But sexual violence and misuse of women is not a solitary affair in Hebrew Bible; it depends on male networks and male alliances, just as it does in our own time.

Homosociality, Male Friendship, and Women in Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities demonstrates, for the first time, the dependence of male friendship on women’s bodies for its very existence. It explains how male friendship and male intimacy is born, nourished, and sustained through the sexual use and abuse of women. 

It’s a topic, in our #MeToo age, that is both timely and important. In our recent past, we’ve seen the ways in which male friendships and intimacies create settings for sexual violence against women. Friends and “fixers” have been a feature of the explosive news stories that reveal how powerful men can ally to exploit and abuse women.

Exploring how women and women’s bodies support, engender, and sustain male friendships in Hebrew Bible can help us ask how masculine hegemony is expressed and critiqued in biblical texts. We may find that doing so can be a liberating process for men and women in our own time.

Rabbi Shulamit Thiede, Ph.D., is Dean of Faculty of the ALEPH Ordination Program and member of the AOP Academic VAAD. Rabbi Thiede teaches Hebrew Bible, Judaism and Jewish history, the Holocaust and the history of European anti-Semitism in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Charlotte where she also serves as the department’s Director of Graduate Studies. She was ordained in 2011 as a rabbi and in 2012 as a mashpi’ah ruchanit by ALEPH. Rabbi Thiede founded Temple Or Olam, the first Jewish Renewal congregation in North Carolina. Rabbi Thiede has written and published in a wide variety of settings, from popular to academic venues. Rabbi Thiede was the first Jewish member of the Kannapolis-Concord Ministerial Association, the first Jewish religious leader in Cabarrus County, and has served as the faculty advisor for UNCC’s Hillel group and the Interfaith Alliance. She blogs at