Jill Hicks-Keeton (Phd, Duke University) is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches courses on biblical literature and on ancient Judaism and Christianity. She is the author of Arguing with Aseneth: Gentile Access to Israel's Living God in Jewish Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2018) and numerous academic articles. She co-edited The Ways that Often Parted (SBL Press, 2018) and has written for the online journals Religion & Politics and Ancient Jew Review. Hicks-Keeton is a 2018 recipient of the Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar Award and is currently serving as a Humanities Forum Fellow and a Risser Innovative Teaching Fellow at the University of Oklahoma. She is now working a book project that analyzes the recently-opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @JillHicksKeeton.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XXI, November 16 – 18, 2018
The Secret Life of Joseph's Wife: Ancient Romance and the Boundaries of Israel
In the biblical book of Genesis, a woman named Aseneth, the daughter of an Egyptian priest, is given in marriage to Joseph, son of Jacob. She becomes the mother of Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. The mere three verses that mention her give a slim profile: she is wife and mother. This lecture explores how the ancient Jewish romance known as Joseph and Aseneth moves this minor character in Genesis from obscurity to renown, weaving a new story whose main purpose was to intervene in debates surrounding conversion to Judaism. Written in Greco-Roman Egypt around the turn of the era, Joseph and Aseneth combines the genre of the ancient Greek novel with scriptural characters from the story of Joseph as it retells Israel's mythic past to negotiate boundaries in its own present. Aseneth’s tale "remixes" Genesis, wrestles with Deuteronomic theology, and adopts prophetic visions of the future as this ancient novel seeks to determine who is “in” and who is “out” when it comes to the people of Israel’s God.