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Bernadette Brooten
Mandel 318
(781) 736-2978

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Brandeis University
Faculty Guide

Bernadette J. Brooten's

Bernadette J. Brooten


Bernadette J. Brooten

Bernadette J. Brooten, Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian studies and of women’s and gender studies at Brandeis University, is founder and director of the  Feminist Sexual Ethics Project. This project aims to create Jewish, Christian and Muslim sexual ethics rooted in freedom, mutuality, meaningful consent, responsibility and female (as well as male) pleasure, untainted by slave-holding values. These religions’ sacred texts and traditions have all tolerated slavery, which has frequently involved the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Brooten heads a team of scholars, activists, artists and policy analysts who are disentangling the nexus of slavery, religion, women and sexuality. They aim to help religious and other people complete the abolition of slavery and move beyond harmful racial and sexual stereotypes.

Because religion is a powerful social force, transformed religious sexual ethics, based not on scriptural literalism or the hierarchies of ancient slave-holding societies but on respect, will benefit the whole of society. Brooten is editing the essays that were presented at a major public conference, “Beyond Slavery: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacy” (October 15–16, 2006, Brandeis University), and she is writing a book on early Christian women who were enslaved or who owned enslaved laborers.

She has written "Women Leaders in The Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues" (1982) and "Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism" (1996), for which she received three awards. She has also published on various topics in ancient Jewish and early Christian history. In addition to a MacArthur Fellowship, she has held fellowships from the Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and many other agencies.

Brooten studied at the University of Portland (B.A. 1971), the University of Tübingen, Hebrew University and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1982). She previously taught at the School of Theology at Claremont, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Tübingen, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oslo.