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Female leadership in the ancient synagogue


Jan van der Crabben
by Bernadette J. Brooten
published on 06 February 2012
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Jewish women in the ancient Mediterranean lived side by side with communities in which women carried out religious functions, including ritual functions, for example, as high priestesses of the imperial cult and female functionaries in the Isis religion. Similarly, Christian women at this time acted as apostles, prophets, teachers, stewards, deacons, church widows, elders and bishops. Did Jewish women also function as religious and community leaders? If we considered only Rabbanic sources, we would have the impression that women did not, but the evidence from ancient inscriptions show that Judaism resembled other religious and ethnic groups in recognizing women's contribution. In what follows, I analyze the epigraphical evidence for each title and ascertain the range of meaning that each title may have had.

Editorial Review This article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

Written by Bernadette J. Brooten, linked by Jan van der Crabben, published 06 February 2012. Source URL:

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APA Style

Brooten, B. J. (2012, February 06). Female leadership in the ancient synagogue. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Brooten, Bernadette J.. "Female leadership in the ancient synagogue." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 06, 2012.

MLA Style

Brooten, Bernadette J.. "Female leadership in the ancient synagogue." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 06 Feb 2012. Web. 07 May 2021.