Bernadette Joan Brooten

Historian of Religion Class of 1998
location icon Location
Waltham, Massachusetts
age iconAge
47 at time of award

About Bernadette's Work

Bernadette Brooten is a scholar who provides fresh interpretations of the patterns of power, social structure, and morality in ancient communities.

Brooten has been instrumental in redefining the histories of ancient Jewish women and love relations between women in ancient times. In her work, she revisits ancient Mediterranean documents, and unearths such obscure sources as papyri and ancient astrological and medical texts. Her first book, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues (1982), was a carefully researched demonstration of the ways in which women took leadership roles in Jewish communities, challenging established beliefs about women’s roles in biblical times. Her book, Love Between Women (1996), is a milestone in studies of gender and sexuality.


Brooten is the Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies and professor of Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, where she also directs the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project. She was an assistant professor of religion at Claremont College (1982-84) and an associate professor at Harvard University’s Divinity School (1985-93).

Brooten received a B.A. (1971) from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. (1982) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Published on July 1, 1998

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