This annotated bibliography lists resources on the Bible, Bible-based religion (Judaism, Christianity), and sexual and gender-based violence. The bibliography is not exhaustive and will be updated from time to time. If you know of any resources you think ought to be added to the bibliography, please let us know.

Written texts are listed chronologically under headings of decades. Within years, items are listed alphabetically. Below publications, there is a bibliography of select online sources and another of select podcasts.

(Feature image by StockSnap from Pixabay)

The 1980s

There are isolated examples of examinations of abusive sacred texts and their consequence, as well as of abuse in religious settings. These emerge first in the USA and focus primarily on Christian settings and theology. These endeavours tend to be woman- and feminist-led.

Niditch, Susan. 1982. ‘The “Sodomite” Theme in Judges 19–20: Family, Community, and Social Disintegration’. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44: 365–78.

Fortune, Marie Marshall. 1983. Sexual Violence: The Unmentionable Sin. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1983. A groundbreaking book, which develops an ethical approach for religious communities to respond with effective compassion to sexual violence survivors. It also offers a pastoral perspective for those who respond to victims or offenders.

Bal, Mieke. 1984. ‘The Rape of Narrative and Narrative of Rape’, pp. 1–32. In Elaine Scarry (ed.), Literature and the Body: Essays on Populations and Persons. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Trible, Phyllis. 1984. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. A modern classic and the first book-length study focused on violence against women in the Hebrew Bible. The designation ‘texts of terror’ has become widely used in biblical studies. Trible’s earlier book (also a classic) – namely, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (1978) – characterised by her method of close reading, praised and celebrated biblical women (such as Eve and Ruth) as role models. Texts of Terror, however, demonstrates that some biblical texts are frightening about and for women. Trible examines the Hebrew Bible stories of Hagar (Genesis 16 and 21), Tamar (2 Samuel 13), the Levite’s unnamed wife (Judges 19) and Jephthah’s unnamed daughter (Judges 11).

Setel, T. Drorah. 1985. ‘Prophets and Pornography: Female Sexual Imagery in Hosea’. In L. M. Russell (ed.), Feminist Interpretation of the Bible. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 86 – 95.

Bal, Mieke (ed.). 1988. Anti-Covenant: Counter-Reading Women’s Lives in the Hebrew Bible. (JSOTSup. 81). Sheffield: Almond Press. Important collection of feminist writings on the Hebrew Bible, including explorations of male dominance (Carol Delaney), female misrepresentation (Betsy Meredith), female sacrifice and expendability (Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes and Ann Michele Tapp). Primarily focused on the book of Judges.

Horton, Anne L. and Judith A. Williamson (eds.). 1988. Abuse and Religion: When Praying Isn’t Enough. Lexington: Lexington Books. A volume with a US focus and orientation covering a very wide range of topics including spousal abuse, child abuse in religious homes, abuse of the elderly, sexual abuse in the family, marital rape, practical guidelines for professionals encountering religious spousal abuse, dealing with abusers, Jewish abuse victims, abuse in Native American settings, violence in Quaker settings, counselling for clergy, support for clergy and congregations in providing support, and programmes aimed at religious leaders.

Carlson Brown, Joanne and Carole R. Bohn (eds.). 1989. Christianity, Patriarchy and Abuse: A Feminist Critique. New York: Pilgrim Press.

Dijk-Hemmes, Fokkelien van. 1989. ‘The Imagination of Power and the Power of Imagination: An Intertextual Analysis of Two Biblical Love Songs: The Song of Songs and Hosea 2’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 44 (1989), pp. 75-88.

Weems, Renita J. 1989. ‘Gomer: Victim of Violence or Victim of Metaphor?’, Semeia 47 (1989): 87-104. Discusses the prophetic marriage metaphor in the book of Hosea. Weems later expands on this theme in her book Battered Love (1995).

The 1990s

During this decade, there was a boom in increasingly diverse examinations of abusive sacred texts and on abuse in religious settings. There was also growing interest in social-scientific and sociocultural approaches. Survivor voices join the conversation. Jewish and womanist voices join the conversation. There is some emphasis now on domestic abuse. Spiritual abuse and rape culture become categories in the literature. A great deal of literary focus shifts on to the prophetic metaphor and domestic abuse.

Alsdurf, James and Phyllis Alsdurf. 1990. Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home. Crowborough: Highland. On abuse in Christian homes and as oxygenated with the complicity of churches. Tackles passages such as Malachi 2:16, often used in Christian contexts to argue against divorce, even in cases of domestic battery.

Adams, Carol and Marie Fortune (eds.). 1991 and 1995. Violence against Women and Children: A Christian Theological Sourcebook. New York: Continuum (Bloomsbury). Large anthology of 30+ contributions about domestic violence, including on feminist and womanist approaches, biblical and theological approaches, on the story of Adam and Eve and women’s subordination, Christian social ethics, perspectives from battered women’s shelters, on American church history, United Church of Canada, sexual trauma, sexual colonisation, and church responses to domestic violence and to abusers.

Fewell, Danna Nolan and David M. Gunn. 1991. ‘Tipping the Balance: Sternberg’s Reader and the Rape of Dinah’. Journal of Biblical Literature 110: 193–211.

Johnson, David and Jeff VanVonderen. 1991 (2005). The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church. Repackaged edition. Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers. Explores institutional abuse and the dynamics in Christian churches that bring about legalism, guilt, and begrudging service. Written for both those who feel abused and those who may be causing it.

Counts, D., J. Brown and J. Campbell (eds.). 1992 and 1999. To Have and To Hit: Cultural Perspectives on Wife Beating. Urbana: University of Illinois. Uses a comparative approach to examine wife beating in a range of cultural contexts (inclusive of religious influence) with a view to identifying strategies to reform societies that are prone to this form of violence. Based on first-hand ethnographic data on more than a dozen societies, including a number in Oceania.

Enroth, Ronald M. 1992. Churches that Abuse. Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan. Looks at churches that practise authoritarian leadership, manipulation, excessive discipline, and spiritual intimidation – key dynamics of institutional abuse.

Galambush, Julie. 1992. Jerusalem in the Book of Ezekiel: The City as Yahweh’s Wife (SBLDS, 130). Atlanta: Scholars Press. Examines the woman metaphors of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, including gender-based violence and violence exerted on the city and land.

Bal, Mieke. 1993. ‘A Body of Writing: Judg. 19’, pp. 208–30. In Athalya Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to Judges (The Feminist Companion to the Bible 4). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Blue, Ken M. 1993. Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books. Addressed to victims of church spiritual abuse. Provides explanations of what spiritual abuse is and how to heal from it.

Exum, J. Cheryl. 1993 and 2015. Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. Offers a feminist reading to retrieve the fragmented clues of women characters in an androcentric Hebrew Bible text by one of the foremost feminist biblical scholars. Focuses on Michal (Saul’s daughter, David’s wife), the women of the Samson story, as well as on mothers.

Fewell, Danna Nolan and David M. Gunn. 1993. Gender Power and Promise: The Subject of the Bible’s First Story. Nashville: Abingdon. Pays careful attention to biblical tropes of gender, power and the dynamics of violence and oppression.

Halperin, David J. 1993. Seeking Ezekiel: Text and Psychology. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Remarkable text that interprets Ezekiel the prophet as a victim of child sexual abuse. Bizarre imagery in the prophetic book is interpret as indicative of trauma.

Keefe, Alice A. 1993. ‘Rapes of Women, Wars of Men: Women, War, Society, and Metaphoric Language in the Study of the Hebrew Bible’. Semeia 61 (Women, War, and Metaphor): 79 – 97. Examines the language and imagery of gender and war in Hebrew Bible texts.

Thistlethwaithe, Susan Brooks. 1993. ‘“You May Enjoy the Spoil of your Enemies”: Rape as a Biblical Metaphor for War’. Semeia 61: 59–75.

Bechtel, Lyn M. 1994. ‘What if Dinah is not Raped? (Genesis 34)’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 62: 19–36. Genesis 34 is often called ‘The Rape of Dinah’. Bechtel disputes that the text describes an event we would nowadays call ‘rape’, arguing that the terminology does not indicate this.

Pressler, Carolyn. 1994. ‘Sexual Violence and Deuteronomic Law’ pp. 102–12. In Athalya Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to Exodus to Deuteronomy (The Feminist Companion to the Bible 6). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth and Mary Shawn Copeland (eds.). 1994. Violence against Women. London: SCM. A collection of essays, including discussions related to sociocultural analysis and gender construction, African-American women, feminine socialisation, masculinity, ecclesial violence, rape and sainthood, and clergy misconduct.

Brenner, Athalya (ed.). 1995. A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. (2nd ed. 2004 by T&T Clark). Includes a number of chapters focusing on feminist analyses of the marriage metaphor in the prophets by scholars such as Athalya Brenner, Carole Fontaine, Naomi Graetz, Fokkelien van Dijk-Hemmes, Yvonne Sherwood, Pamela Gordon and Harold Washington, and F. Rachel Magdalene.

Brenner, Athalya. 1995. ‘On Prophetic Propaganda and the Politics of “Love”: The Case of Jeremiah’. In Athalya Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, pp. 256–274. Argues for the harmful and misogynist content of the woman metaphor in the prophetic book of Jeremiah.

Cooper-White, Pamela. 1995 (second edition 2012). The Cry of Tamar: Violence Against Women and the Church’s Response. Grand Rapids: Fortress. Cooper-White, a professor of Psychology and Religion, explores various forms of violence against women, and challenges Christian churches to examine their own responses to the cry of Tamar (a victim of rape in the biblical narrative of 2 Samuel 13). She describes specific forms of such violence and outlines appropriate pastoral responses.

Dijk-Hemmes, Fokkelien van. 1995. ‘The Metaphorization of Woman in Prophetic Speech: An Analysis of Ezekiel 23’. In Athalya Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, pp.244–255. A chapter that points out that the metaphorized sisters of Ezekiel 23 are maligned as lewd and sinful but are actually depicted as victims of sexual abuse in childhood.

Graetz, Naomi. 1995. ‘God Is to Israel as Husband Is to Wife: The Metaphoric Battering of Hosea’s Wife’, 126–145. In Athalya Brenner (ed.), A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. (See also Baumann, Weems.) Connects Hosea 1–3 with domestic abuse and argues that God’s abuse of Israel (metaphorically, his wife) legitimates husbands’ abuse of their wives.

Langone, Michael D., ed. 1995. Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims Of Psychological And Spiritual Abuse. W. W. Norton & Company, New York. Draws on clinical expertise and on personal experiences of those formerly involved in high-intensity mind-control groups. Provides practical guidelines for helping former cult members manage the problems they encounter when leaving cults.

Weems, Renita J. 1995. Battered Love: Marriage, Sex, and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. An early book-length investigation by a foremost womanist biblical scholar on violent prophetic woman metaphors of the Hebrew Bible and of the implications of a God cast as abusive spouse.

Yee, Gale A. 1995. ‘Ideological Criticism: Judges 17–21 and the Dismembered Body’, pp. 146–70. In Gale A. Yee (ed.), Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Adelman, Howard. 1996. ‘“A Disgrace for All Jewish Men:” Preliminary Considerations for the Study of Wife-Beating in Jewish History.’ Medieval Feminist Newsletter 21. Review of historical data and Jewish sources on spousal abuse.

Brenner, Athalya. 1996. ‘Pornoprophetics Revisited: Some Additional Reflections.’ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 70: 63–86. Brenner’s response to the debate as to whether prophetic woman metaphors are pornographic or not.

Sherwood, Yvonne. 1996. The Prostitute and the Prophet: Hosea’s Marriage in Literary-Theoretical Perspective. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Literary-critical investigation disclosing ideological gendered subtexts in the book of Hosea.

Stone, Ken. 1996. Sex, Honor, and Power in the Deuteronomistic History (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series 234). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Exposition of gendered dynamics in biblical narratives, including discussion of how women operate as conduits in competitions for power and honour between men.

Thatcher, Adrian and Elizabeth Stuart (eds.). 1996. Christian Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender. Leominster: Gracewing. Anthology of 36 essays of contemporary Christian perspectives on sexuality and gender. Topics include power and relationships and domestic violence.  

Brenner, Athalya and Carole Fontaine (eds.). 1997. A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. A range of essays by feminist authors, including chapters on ‘The Abusive Bible’ (Carole Fontaine), ‘Challenged by the Text’ (Carol Smith), Family Violence and the Bible (John J. Pilch), and abusiveness in Lamentations (Tod Linafelt).

Gnadadason, Aruna. 1997. No Longer a Secret: The Church and Violence Against Women. Geneva: WCC. Argues that churches have often turned a blind eye to the presence of violence against women in their own institutional life, sometimes even condoning it.

Nason-Clark, Nancy. 1997. The Battered Wife: How Christians Confront Family Violence. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. Sociological investigation of domestic violence in Christian homes. Suggests how church and secular agencies can cooperate towards more effective action.

Washington, Harold C. 1997. ‘Violence and the Construction of Gender in the Hebrew Bible: A New Historicist Approach.’ Biblical Interpretation 5/4: 324– 63. The article begins with a US judge’s biblical justification for atrocities at the My Lai massacre and goes on to explore Torah/Pentateuch passages of gendered violence in war.

Bach, Alice. 1998. ‘Rereading the Body Politic: Women and Violence in Judges 21’. Biblical Interpretation 6/1: 1–19.

Graetz, Naomi. 1998. Silence is Deadly: Judaism Confronts Wife-Beating. New Jersey: Aronson. Explores attitudes to wife-beating in Jewish texts. Shows that rabbinic responses to wife-beating in the Jewish community are diverse.

Törnkvist, Rut. 1998. The Use and Abuse of Female Sexual Imagery in the Book of Hosea: A Feminist Critical Approach to Hosea 1–3. Uppsala Women‘s Studies A: Women in Religion 7; Stockholm: Gotab.

Washington, Harold C. 1998. ‘“Lest He Die in the Battle and Another Man Take Her”: Violence and   the Construction   of  Gender   in  the   Laws  of Deuteronomy 20-22,”, 185 – 213. In Tikva Frymer- Kensky and Victor. H. Matthews (eds.), Gender and Law (JSOTSup; Sheffield:  Sheffield Academic Press. Like Washington (1997), this piece examines biblical depictions and attempts at justification of gendered violence in warfare. Both pieces offer careful readings, and both are searing. This chapter looks particularly at the law and implications of Deuteronomy 21, the law of what a man who desires a captive woman is to do.

Ammons, Linda. 1999. ‘What’s God Got to Do with It? Church and State Collaboration in the Subordination of Women and Domestic Violence’. Rutgers Law Review 51: 1207– 1288. Available here: Explores the role of religious institutions, ideology, and doctrine in promoting women’s subordination and condoning domestic violence. Traces how male supremacy is construed from biblical narratives and becomes part of church codified hierarchical gender roles, particularly within the marital relationship. Ammons also discusses how religion is used to endorse the submission of women to men through brute force, if necessary. Contains useful table of religious groups with domestic violence policy statements.

Bail, Ulrike. 1999. ‘The Breath after the Comma: Psalm 55 and Violence against Women’, Journal of Religion and Abuse 1: 5–18.

Bauer-Levesque, Angela. 1999. Gender in the Book of Jeremiah: A Feminist-Literary Reading. New York: Peter Lang, Feminist exploration of gender and gendered metaphor in the prophetic book of Jeremiah.

Day, Linda. 1999. “Teaching the Prophetic Marriage Metaphor Texts.” Teaching Theology and Religion 2 (3): 173–79. An invaluable discussion about how to teach biblical texts of terror in the biblical studies classroom.

Hornsby, Teresa. 1999. ‘“Israel Has Become a Worthless Thing”: Rereading Gomer in Hosea 1–3.’ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 82: 115–128. Analysis of gender-based violence in Hosea.

Nason-Clark, Nancy. 1999. ‘Shattered Silence or Holy Hush: Emerging Definitions of Violence against Women’. Journal of Family Ministry 13 (1): 39–56.

Tombs, David. 1999. ‘Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse’. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 53: 89–109. 

The 2000s

The momentum that emerged in the 1990s continues. Womanist and feminist voices diversify. Alongside Jewish authors, there are now also contributors from African settings, as well as other minoritized perspectives (e.g. of sex workers). There is more focus on the violent potential of New Testament texts and continued focus on engaging religious leaders. There is also emerging emphasis on LGBTQ+ communities.

Day, Linda. 2000. ‘Rhetoric and Domestic Violence in Ezekiel 16.’ Biblical Interpretation 8/3: 205–230. Feminist interpretation of Ezekiel 16, an extensive and violent example of the prophetic woman metaphor, exploring the role of God as abusive husband to Jerusalem, his wife.

Fuchs, Esther. 2000. Sexual Politics in the Biblical Narrative: Reading the Hebrew Bible as a Woman (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 310). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Careful literary analysis of women in biblical narratives, including gendered and power dynamics.

Miles, Al. 2000 and 2011. Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know. Minneapolis: Fortress. Explores the dynamics of abusive relationships and the role that clergy members can play to facilitate healing in their pastoral ministry. The newer edition includes updated information on the pathology of domestic violence and on the effects of economic downturn on victim-survivors and batterers. The author also focuses on helping clergy and other pastoral ministers develop a more informed and compassionate response to victim-survivors who are LGBT.

Nason-Clark, Nancy. 2000. ‘Making the Sacred Safe: Women Abuse and Communities of Faith.’ Sociology of Religion 61/4: 349–368. Presidential address of 1999 for the interdenominational Religion and Violence research team. Draws on personal insights.

Scholz, Susanne. 2000. Rape Plots: A Feminist Cultural Study of Genesis 34. New York: Peter Lang. Explores understandings of rape reflected in nineteenth-century German interpretations of the Genesis 34 story (the rape of Dinah), as well as interpretations from 1970 to 1997. By drawing on discourses from forensic medicine and feminist theories, Scholz reflects on Genesis 34 in light of cultural contexts.

Fortune, Marie Marshall. 2001. ‘Pastoral Responses to Sexual Assault and Abuse: Laying a Foundation’, Journal of Religion and Abuse 3/3–4: 91–112.

Ganzevoort, Ruard R. 2001. ‘Religion in Re-Writing the Story. Case Study of a Sexually Abused Man’. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion 112: 45–62.

Katan, Ursula. 2001. ‘To Open My Mouth and Speak What I Know’, 154–60. In Danya Ruttenberg (ed.), Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Feminism. New York: Seal Press. First-hand account of sexual abuse in a Jewish domestic setting. Mentions how fear of aggravating antisemitism obstructs disclosure of and responses to sexual abuse.

Scott, Sara. 2001. The Politics and Experience of Ritual Abuse: Beyond Disbelief. Buckingham: Open University Press. Explains the meaning of ‘ritual abuse’ through the accounts of those who claim direct experience. Offers insight into why ritual abuse has become such a contested issue.

Keefe, Alice A. 2002. Woman’s Body and the Social Body in Hosea. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Explores gender-based and embodied violence in the book of Hosea.

Baumann, Gerlinde. 2003. Love and Violence: Marriage as Metaphor for the Relationship between YHWH and Israel in the Prophetic Books. (Trans. L. M. Maloney). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. Examination of biblical prophetic metaphors of marriage and domestic violence, and of the implications of violence being exerted by God (YHWH). (See also Renita Weems, Battered Love.)

Goodman Kaufman, Carol. 2003. Sins of Omission: The Jewish Community’s Reaction to Domestic Violence. Boulder: Westview. Concerned more with community (non)response than with abusers. Takes issue with Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform rabbis and community leaders for not doing enough and not being adequately informed to help the abused women in their congregations get support, protection, and guidance. Includes information based on interviews with survivors of abuse, rabbis, and lay community leaders. Interrogates Jewish communities and their rules, regulations, and followers, assesses how these help and hinder victims of abuse.

Isherwood, Lisa. 2003. ‘Marriage: Heaven or Hell? Twin Souls and Broken Bones’ Feminist Theology 11/2: 203–215. Demonstrates the levels of domestic abuse in the UK and USA. Argues that it is a mistake to see such abuse as purely a private and pastoral matter but rather as a public and systematic problem, requiring public theological and ethical response. Suggests how Christian theology has been used to devalue women and to create a climate where abuse and death are both possible and even acceptable. Considers how theology can be instrumental in the creation of more mutually empowering models of masculinity and femininity.

Kelso, Julie. 2003. ‘Reading the Silence of Women in Genesis 34’, pp. 85–109. In Roland Boer and Edgar W. Conrad (eds.), Redirected Travel: Alternative Journeys and Places in Biblical Studies. New York: T & T Clark.

Anderson, Cheryl B. 2004. Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law. London, New York: T&T Clark. Examines the relationship between biblical laws and violence against women, including law as a mode of violence and the contribution of gender construction to identity.

Brenner, Athalya. 2004. ‘Some Reflections on Violence against Women and the Image of the Hebrew God: The Prophetic Books Revisited’, pp.69–81, In Jane Schaberg, Alice Bach, and Esther Fuchs (eds.), On the Cutting Edge: The Study of Women in Biblical Worlds: Essays in Honour of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. New York: Continuum. A reflection on violence against women in Hebrew Bible prophetic writing and metaphor by one of the foremost feminist biblical scholars.

Chevous, Jane. 2004. From Silence to Sanctuary: A Guide to Understanding, Preventing and Responding to Abuse (SPCK).

Gravett, Sandie. 2004. ‘Reading “Rape” in the Hebrew Bible: A Consideration of Language.’ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 28/3: 279–299. A careful evaluation of using the English word ‘rape’ to translate and make sense of events described in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. in Genesis 34).

Kochansky, Gerald E. and Frank Herrmann. 2004. ‘Shame and Scandal: Clinical and Canon Law Perspectives on the Crisis in the Priesthood.’ International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 27: 299-319. Analyses the failure in Roman Catholic institutions to confront and prevent clerical abuse. Explores particularly the psychodynamics behind this failure, with focus on narcissism and the temptations of power.

Rashkow, Ilona N. 2004. ‘The Rape(s) of Dinah (Gen. 34): False Religion and Excess in Revenge’, pp. 53–80. In J. Harold Ellens (ed.), The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Vol. 3: Models and Cases of Violence in Religion. Recent Titles in Contemporary Psychology). Westport: Praeger.

Schroeder, Joy. 2004. ‘John Chrysostom’s Critique of Spousal Violence.’ Journal of Early Christian Studies 12/4: 413–442.

Shields, Mary E. 2004. Circumscribing the Prostitute: The Rhetorics of Intertextuality, Metaphor and Gender in Jeremiah 3.1-4.4. London: T&T Clark.

Yamada, Frank. 2004. ‘Dealing with Rape (in) Narrative (Genesis 34): Ethics of the Other and a Text in Conflict’, in Charles H. Cosgrove (ed.), The Meanings we Choose: Hermeneutical Ethics, Indeterminacy and the Conflict of Interpretation. London: T&T Clark.

Adams, Carol J. 2005. ‘“I Just Raped My Wife! What Are You Going to Do about It, Pastor”: The Church and Sexual Violence,’ pp.75–104. In Emilie Buchwald, Pamela R Fletcher, and Martha Roth (eds.), Transforming a Rape Culture (rev. edn). Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed. Chapter on spousal abuse and its silencing in church contexts, institutional abuse, and advice on pastoral response to marital rape.

Buchwald, Emilie, Pamela R. Fletcher, and Martha Roth (eds.). 2005. Transforming a Rape Culture (rev. edn). Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed. A range of essays on rape culture contexts, masculinities and gender-based violence. Plenty of content relevant for examination of religious context and two chapters on power dynamics in religious settings in particular (see Adams and Fortune entries).

Cruz, Gemma. 2005. ‘Liberating Justice: The Challenge of Wife-Battery to Christian Teaching on Justice’, pp.53–69. In Evelyn Monteiro and Antoinette Gutzler (eds.), Ecclesia of Women in Asia: Gathering the Voices of the Silenced. Delhi: ISPCK.

Donovan, Jean. 2005. ‘Diving into Darkness: The Religion Experience of Women Survivors of Domestic Violence’, pp.347–358.  In L. Boeve, H, Geybels and S. van den Bossche (eds.), Encountering Transcendence: Contributions to a Theology of Christian Religious Experience. Leuven: Peeters. Provides theological reflection on surviving domestic abuse. Discusses an account of lived experience, learned helplessness, primordial will and the legitimation of religious experience.

Fortune, Marie M. 2005. ‘Sexual Abuse by Religious Leaders,’ pp.189–200. In Emilie Buchwald, Pamela R. Fletcher, and Martha Roth (eds.), Transforming a Rape Culture. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed. Discusses sexual abuse by religious leaders and within religious institutions, exploring the impact of histories of non-disclosure and non-action.

Matthews, Shelly and E. Leigh Gibson (eds.). 2005. Violence in the New Testament. New York, London: T&T Clark. Refutes the notion that violence is a Hebrew Bible phenomenon. Includes chapters on violent language in Paul (John Gager and E. Leigh Gibson), on Jezebel (John W. Marshall), Imperial Violence (Richard E. Horsley), as well as on Matthew (Warren Carter), John (Adele Reinhartz), the stoning of Stephen (Shelly Matthews), and religious formation (David Frankfurter).

Rofé, Alexander. 2005. ‘Defilement of Virgins in Biblical Law and the Case of Dinah (Genesis 34)’. Biblica 86/3: 369–75.

Scholz, Susanne. 2005. ‘“Back Then It Was Legal”: The Epistemological Imbalance in Readings of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Rape Legislation.” The Bible and Critical Theory 1 (4): 36.1–36.22. Deconstructs and counters claims that speaking about rape in the Bible is ‘anachronistic’.

Toensing, Holly Joan. 2005. ‘Women of Sodom and Gomorrah: Collateral Damage in the War against Homosexuality?’ Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 21/2: 61–74.

Weaver, Andrew, John D. Preston, and Charlene Hosenfeld. 2005. Counseling on Sexual Issues: A Handbook for Pastors and Other Helping Professionals. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim. A how-to resource aimed primarily at clergy and seeking to provide accurate and practical information on sexual matters to better equip those who come to them seeking pastoral counsel.

Bader, Mary Anna. 2006. Sexual Violation in the Hebrew Bible: A Multi-Methodological Study of Genesis 34 and 2 Samuel 13. Studies in Biblical Literature 87. New York: Peter Lang, 2006. Applies various biblical studies methodologies to closely analyse Genesis 34 (the rape of Dinah) and 2 Samuel 13 (the rape of Tamar). Bader also looks at the implications of these narratives in contemporary contexts, including their usefulness as teaching materials.  

Bowen, Nancy R. 2006. ‘Women, Violence, and the Bible’, pp.186–199. In Linda Day and Carolyn Pressler (eds.), Engaging the Bible in a Gendered World: An Introduction to Feminist Biblical Interpretation in Honor of Katharine Doob Sakenfeld. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox. Succinct overview on gendered violence and women in the Bible.

Clanton, Dan W. 2006. The Good, the Bold, and the Beautiful: The Story of Susanna and Its Renaissance Interpretations. London: T&T Clark. A fascinating book that explores the story of Susanna through its reception in Renaissance art.

Miles, Johnny. 2006. ‘Re-Reading the Power of Satire: Isaiah’s “Daughter of Zion”, Pope’s “Belinda”, and the Rhetoric of Rape’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31/2: 193–219.

Mandolfo, Carleen R. 2007. Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets: A Diaologic Theology of the Book of Lamentations. Atlanta: SBL. Careful investigation of the violence, abuse and battery of Daughter Zion in the book of Lamentations.

Nyabera, Fred and Taryn Montgomery (eds.). 2007. Contextual Bible Study Manual on Gender-Based Violence. Nairobi: FECCLAHA. Available for free download here: A practical resource on conducting contextual Bible study (a method of theological social engagement between scholars and non-scholars towards achieving social justice, associated above all with the Ujamaa Centre of the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa). This resource focuses on biblical texts and eliminating gender-based violence. Includes multiple contributions by leading African scholars, and covers both Hebrew Bible and New Testament texts.

Schroeder, Joy. 2007. Dinah’s Lament: The Biblical Legacy of Sexual Violence in Christian Interpretation. Minneapolis: Fortress. Thorough examination of the history of early Christian interpretation of Genesis 34 (Dinah) and 39 (Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife), Judges 19 (the Levite’s wife), 2 Samuel 13 (Tamar), and Daniel 13 (Susanna), as well as early stories of raped and martyred female virgins and saints, and of portrayals of sexual violence in medieval Christian art.

Shemesh, Yael. 2007. ‘Rape is Rape is Rape: The Story of Dinah and Shechem (Genesis 34)’. Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 119/1: 2-21.

Fontaine, Carole R. 2008. With Eyes of Flesh: The Bible, Gender, and Human Rights. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press. Considers the use of biblical and religious justifications for the violation or preservation of human rights. A valuable study that opens up conversation between sacred texts and everyday life.

Ganzevoort, Ruard R. 2008. ‘Scars and Stigmata. Trauma, Identity, and Theology’. Practical Theology 1/1: 19–31.

Maier, Christl M. 2008. Daughter Zion, Mother Zion: Gender, Space, and the Sacred in Ancient Israel. Minneapolis: Fortress. Careful examination of gender, space, embodiment and metaphor in the Hebrew Bible.

Moughtin-Mumby, Sharon. 2008. Sexual and Marital Metaphors in Hosea, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A close reading of gendered metaphors in the prophetic texts.

Yamada, Frank. 2008. Configurations of Rape in the Hebrew Bible: A Literary Analysis of Three Rape Narratives. New York: Peter Lang, 2008. Offers a close literary analysis of Genesis 34 (the rape of Dinah), Judges 19 (the gang rape of the Levite’s wife), and 2 Samuel 13 (the rape of Tamar).

Brown, Christa. 2009. This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. Cedarburg, Wisconsin: Foremost Press. Autobiographical account of clergy abuse in a Southern Baptist US context. ‘Unlike other major faith groups, Southern Baptists have no denominational system for responsibly assessing clergy abuse reports or for even keeping records on abuse reports’ (p.xi).

Cusak, Kathy and Takyiwaa Manuh (eds.). 2009. The Architecture of Violence against Women in Ghana. Accra: GSHRDC. Reflects on 1999 national survey on violence against women by the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre (Ghana). Contains extensive analysis, with Part 2 focusing on representations of violence in terms of culture and religion (both Christianity and Islam, the major religions of Ghana). Contains chapters by Akosua Adomako Ampofo and Mansah Prah, Mercy Amba Oduyoye (on Christian religion and violence against women and children in Ghana) and Rabiatu Amma-Koney.

Fischer, Stefan. 2009. ‘Die Machtstrukturen der Gewalt im Hohelied’. Protokolle zur Bibel 18/2: 109–121. A text-critical examination on power structures and violence in the biblical book Song of Songs. In German.

Gafney, Wilda. 2009. ‘Mother Knows Best: Messianic Surrogacy and Sexploitation in Ruth,’ pp.23–36. In Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan and Tina Pippin (eds.), Mother Goose, Mother Jones, Mommie Dearest: Biblical Mothers and their Children. Atlanta, GA: SBL. Womanist author Wilda Gafney argues that Ruth and Orpah (characters in the biblical book of Ruth) may have been seized in abduction ‘marriage’ and might be victims of sexual exploitation (sexploitation), including by Naomi, their mother-in-law. This counter-reads the book of Ruth, which is widely regarded as a benign book that is liberating for women.

Ipsen, Avaren. 2009. Sex Working and the Bible. London/Oakville: Equinox. Contextual Bible study (a method associated most prominently with the Ujamaa Centre of South Africa) of reading biblical texts about or featuring sex workers with sex workers in California. Explores the violence in and inflicted by texts on a marginalised community and showcases new biblical readings and interpretations in a co-reading aimed at social engagement and social justice.

Marshall, John W. 2009. ‘Gender and Empire: Sexualized Violence in John’s Anti-Imperial Apocalypse,’ pp. 17–32. In Amy-Jill Levine, with Maria Mayo Robbins (eds.), A Feminist Companion to the Apocalypse of John. London: T&T Clark. Study of gendered sexual violence in Revelation.

The 2010s

Momentum continues. There is growing emphasis on the systemic nature of abuse, as well as more comparative studies, showing similarities across settings. Policy and safeguarding work come more to the fore. We also see a growing discussion on men as victims of abuse, as well as on Jesus as a victim of abuse at the crucifixion. The application of masculinity studies to biblical texts of terror begins to make an appearance.

Bailey, Randall C. 2010. ‘Why Do Readers Believe Lot? Genesis 19 Reconsidered’. Old Testament Essays 23/3: 519–548. Explores the violent and destructive story of the threatened rape of male angelic messengers and of Lot’s virgin daughters, drawing on intersectional dimensions that accentuate racialised alongside homophobic discrimination.

Baker, Lynne. 2010. Counselling Christian Women: On How to Deal with Domestic Violence. Bowen Hills: Australian Academic Press. Examines Christian women and their experiences of domestic abuse. Baker explores physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse at the hands of perpetrator husbands who claim to be good Christians. Includes extensive interviews combined with academic research.

Blyth, Caroline. 2010. The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34: Interpreting Dinah’s Silence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reads the story of Dinah in Genesis 34 alongside rape accounts (and accounts of silencing) within contemporary contexts. Contains close reading of Genesis 34.

Casey, K. 2010. ‘What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand? – Talking the Tough Stuff of the Bible: A Creative Reading of the Rape of Tamar – 2 Sam. 13:1-22’. Feminist Theology 18/2: 160-174.

Chinnici, Joseph. 2010. When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership. Maryknoll: Orbis. Look at the sexual abuse scandal in the American Catholic Church and its lessons for the future.

Claassens, L. Juliana M. 2010. ‘Calling the Keeners: The Image of the Wailing Woman as Symbol of Survival in the Traumatized World’. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 26/1: 63–77. Exploration of the wailing women in Jeremiah 9:17–20, called by God to raise a lament over the people of Judah, and of how they serve as a powerful symbol of survival and of coming to terms with tragedy. Employs insights from trauma theory, investigates the significance of women in Judah’s process of dealing with extreme trauma, and offers resources for contemporary readers facing personal or corporal trauma.

Coleman, Monica A. 2010. The Dinah Project: A Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. Offers practical recommendations on how to respond to sexual violence perpetrated against a member of one’s congregation, as well as on resisting sexual violence before it takes place.

Fahs, Breanne. 2010. ‘Daddy’s Little Girls: On the Perils of Chastity Clubs, Purity Balls and Ritualised Abstinence.’ Frontiers 31 (3): 116–142. Excellent discussion of purity culture rituals and practices within evangelical Christianity.

Feinstein, Eve Levavi. 2010. ‘Sexual Pollution in the Hebrew Bible: A New Perspective’, pp. 114-145. In S. Tamar Kamionkowski and Wonil Kim (eds.), Bodies, Embodiment, and Theology of the Hebrew Bible. New York and London: T&T Clark. Explores dynamics between purity, pollution, sex, and gender, including the potential these yield for violence.

Klopper, Frances. 2010. ‘Rape and the Case of Dinah: Ethical Responsibilities for Reading Genesis 34.’ Old Testament Essays 23/3: 652–665.

Orlowski, Barbara M. 2010. Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.

Pretorius, S. P. 2010. ‘Spiritual abuse under the banner of the right to freedom of religion in religious cults can be addressed’. Acta Theologica 31/2: 219–40. Argues that the right to religious freedom ensures freedom in the sense that people can choose their religion, but that it cannot ensure that worship in any religion is a voluntary act on the part of the participants. On the one hand, religious freedom has opened the world of religion to people; but at the same time, it has also created a ‘grey’ area where abuse can flourish under the banner of so-called ‘freedom’.

Scholz, Susanne. 2010. Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. A comprehensive book-length comprehensive study of rape texts and terms in the Hebrew Bible.

DeConick, April D. 2011 (2013, 2019). Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter. London: Continuum/Bloomsbury. A historical investigation of misogyny, with particular focus on the Early Church. Some investigation of the Bible: Genesis, Gospels, Paul

Glancy, Jennifer A. and Stephen D. Moore 2011. ‘How Typical a Roman Prostitute is Revelation’s “Great Whore”? Journal of Biblical Literature 130/3: 551–569. A close look at New Testament imagery of and attitudes to sexual violence.

Haddox, Susan E. 2011. Metaphor and Masculinity in Hosea. New York: Peter Lang. Draws on masculinity studies to offer a masculist interpretation of metaphors in Hosea, including the prophetic marriage metaphor in Hosea 1-3.

Kawashima, Robert. 2011. ‘Could A Woman Say “No” in Biblical Israel? On the Genealogy of Legal Status in Biblical Law and Literature’. Association for Jewish Studies Review 35: 1–22. An examination of the legal status of rape and rape terminology in the Hebrew Bible.

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. 2011. ‘Ties that Bind: Violence against Wo/men’, pp.97–124.  In her Transforming Vision: Explorations in Feminist The*logy. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress. A linguistically subtle exploration of feminist theological and hermeneutical frameworks by one of the foremost feminist theologians.

Townsley, Gillian. 2011. ‘The Straight Mind in Corinth: Problematizing Categories and Ideologies of Gender in 1 Corinthians 11:2–16’, pp.247–281. In Teresa J. Hornsby and Ken Stone (eds.), Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature. Original take on gendering and violence in a New Testament text, also explored by Shelly Matthews (2017), see below.

Anne, Libby. 2012. ‘How the Modesty Doctrine Fuels Rape Culture’. Patheos, 10 December. Discusses the complicity of Christian purity culture in perpetuating rape culture.

Claassens, L. Juliana. 2012. ‘Resisting Dehumanization: Ruth, Tamar, and the Quest for Human Dignity’. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 74/4: 659–674. Gender- and race-critical examination of Ruth and Tamar, with attention to authorial positionality and matters of subjectivity.

Cares, Alison C. and Gretchen R. Cusick. 2012. ‘Risks and Opportunities of Faith and Culture: The Case of Abused Jewish Women’. Journal of Family Violence 27/5, 427–435. Explores the case of abused Jewish women to illuminate intersections of faith and subcultures. Looks particularly at how a victim’s faith can be manipulated but how it can also provide a foundation of strength.

Cooper-White, P. 2012. The Cry of Tamar. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

Batchelor, Valli Boobal (ed.). 2013. When Pastors Prey: Overcoming Clergy Sexual Abuse of Women (Geneva: WCC Publications).

Claassens, L. Juliana M. and Klaas Spronk (eds.). 2013. Fragile Dignity: Intercontextual Conversations in Scriptures, Family and Violence. Atlanta: SBL. Available as pdf, here: Contains multiple chapters and responses on a wide range of topics, including on human dignity in theological reading, representation of violence against women in scriptures and novels, reproductive technologies, the New Testament as a resource for addressing violence, family dynamics, and domestic violence.

Oakley, Lisa R. and Kathryn Kinmond. 2013. Breaking the Silence on Spiritual Abuse. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Simonic, Barbara, Tina Rahne Mandelj, and Rachel Novsak. 2013. ‘Religious-Related Abuse in the Family’. Journal of Family Violence 28: 339–49.

Stanley, Janelle. 2013. ‘Judges 19: Text of Trauma’. In Joshua and Judges, ed. Athalya Brenner and Gale A. Yee, 275-89. Texts@Contexts. Minneapolis: Ausburg Fortress.

Hackett, J. 2014. ‘Violence and Women’s Lives in the Book of Judges’. Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 58/4: 356-364.

Oakley, Lisa R. and Kathryn S. Kinmond. 2014. ‘Developing Safeguarding Policy and Practice for Spiritual Abuse’. Journal of Adult Protection. 16/2: 87–95.

Trainor, Michael. 2014. The Body of Jesus and Sexual Abuse. How the Passion Narratives inform a Pastoral Response. Eugene: Wipf & Stock. Trainor argues that the gospels’ passion narratives are “stories of humiliation and abuse that are also sexual.” The book carefully examines each of the gospel passion narratives in light of its Greco-Roman context, arguing that these stories are relevant to the contemporary church and to those suffering from sexual abuse.

Waterhouse, R. T. 2014. ‘Satanic Abuse, False Memories, Weird Beliefs and Moral Panics’. PhD thesis, City University London,

Johnson, Andy J., ed. 2015. Religion and Men’s Violence Against Women. New York: Springer. Very important text, containing 29 chapters, including on diverse Christian communities, diverse non-Christian religious communities, and on domestic abuse.

McMullin, S., N. Nason-Clark, A. Fisher-Townsend, and C. Holtmann. 2015. ‘When Violence Hits the Religious Home: Raising Awareness about Domestic Violence in Seminaries and among Religious Leaders’. Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling 69/2: 113-124. Looks specifically at teaching of domestic violence classes in a seminary or religious context, as well as at the ongoing professional education of religious leaders, e.g., pastors. Considers ways to introduce therapeutic staff to the unique vulnerabilities of highly religious clients who have been abused or who act abusively. Based on data collected at North American theological seminaries and in congregations. Explains some of the challenges of instruction about domestic violence in a religious context.

Messina-Dysert, Gina. 2015. Rape Culture and Spiritual Violence: Religion, Testimony and Visions of Healing. London, New York: Routledge. Examines sexual violence against women, how religion and society contribute to rape culture, and the extreme suffering endured by rape victims as a result. Uses the testimony of women who have experienced both rape and the consequences of rape culture—from a range of religious, cultural, ethnic, and social contexts. Explores both the suffering and healing of rape victims from World War II to today. 

Claassens, L. Juliana M. 2016. Claiming Her Dignity: Female Resistance in the Old Testament. Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier. Analyses the resilience and tenacity of female characters of the Hebrew Bible, while not ignoring trauma. Examines responses to war, rape and other forms of abuse.

Harding, James. 2016. ‘Homophobia and Masculine Domination in Judges 19-21’. Bible and Critical Theory 12 (2): 41–74. Detailed study of the language and rhetoric of violence, masculinity, and homophobia in Judges 19-21,

Kuja, Ryan. 2016. ‘Remembering the Body: Misogyny Through the Lens of Judges 19’. Feminist Theology 25/1: 89-95.

Rey, Monica I. 2016. ‘Reexamination of the Foreign Female Captive: Deuteronomy 21:10–14 as a Case of Genocidal Rape’. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 32/1 (Spring): 37–53. DOI: 10.2979/jfemistudreli.32.1.04.

Roux, E. le, Scott N. Kramm., M. Sandilands, L. Loots, J. Olivier, D. Arango, and V, O’Sullivan. 2016. ‘Getting Dirty: Working with Faith Leaders to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence’. The Review of Faith & International Affairs 14: 22–35.

Stiebert, Johanna. 2016. First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family. London, New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. Discusses legal and narrative texts of the Hebrew Bible to illuminate attitudes to first-degree incest. Contains some discussion of incestuous abusiveness and rape.

Tucker, Ruth. 2016. Black and White Bible: Black and Blue Wife. My Story of Finding Hope After Domestic Abuse. Zondervan. Autobiographical account of harrowing abuse at the hands of a preacher husband. Aimed at helping other women caught in a cycle of domestic violence. Contains biblical interpretation to counter abuse, including for pastors and counsellors.

Briggs, Will. 2017. ‘“A Man’s Gotta Do what a Man’s Gotta Do?” The Criticism of Hegemonic Masculinity in Judges 19:1–20:7’. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 42/1: 51-71. Briggs draws on masculinity studies to explore the failure of the Levite’s hegemonic masculinity in this biblical narrative.

Craig, Shelley L., Ashley Austin, Mariam Rashidi, and Marc Adama. 2017. ‘Fighting for Survival: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students in religious colleges and universities’. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 29/1:1–24. A study that uses grounded theory to analyse narratives of LGBTQ+ students and institutionalised homo/transphobia in higher education settings. Includes coping and resilience strategies and implications for activism and practice.

Diederich, F. Remy. 2017. Broken Trust: a practical guide to identify and recover from toxic faith, toxic church, and spiritual abuse: Volume 4. (Overcoming Series: Spiritual Abuse). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Aimed at those who have suffered abuse in a religious context, and also provides practical guidelines for pastors seeking to lead healthy congregations. 

Dube, Musa W. 2017. ‘Dinah (Genesis 34) at the Contact Zone: “Shall Our Sister Become a Whore?”’, pp.39–57. In Juliana Claassens and Carolyn J. Sharp (eds.), Feminist Frameworks and the Bible: Power, Ambiguity, and Intersectionality. London, New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. A feminist-postcolonial-critical reading of Genesis 34, reading Dinah as a victim of rape and Shechem and his people as colonised and exterminated/victimised.

Heil, Erin C. 2017. ‘It is God’s will: Exploiting religious beliefs as a means of human trafficking’. Critical Research on Religion. 5(1): 48-61. Discusses how human traffickers use psychological restraints to coerce and control their victims, with particular focus on religious beliefs. With case studies from Islam, House of Judah and Scientology.

Kalmanofsky, Amy (ed.) 2017. Sexual Violence and Sacred Texts. Cambridge, MA: Feminist Studies in Religion Books. Focuses on sexual violence in select texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam: namely, the New Testament, rabbinical writings, Qur’anic writings, and Hebrew Bible/Tanakh. Offers scope for comparison across religious traditions. With an introduction by Amy Kalmanofsky and chapters by Shelly Matthews (1 Corinthians 11:2-16), Sarra Lev (the Babylonian Talmud, b.Nid 45a), Celene Ibrahim (sexual violence, media, activism and Qur’anic resources), Ayesha S. Chaudhry (possibilities and complexities of religious feminism and Islam, plus Qur’anic interpretation), Amy Kalmanofsky (how feminist biblical scholars can play a role in sexual assault victims’ healing) and Fulata Lusungu Moyo (inter-reading Judges 19:1-30 with memories of the Rwandan genocide).

Klement, Kathryn R., and Brad J. Sagarin. 2017. “Nobody Wants to Date a Whore: Rape- Supportive Messages in Women-Directed Christian Dating Books.” Sexuality & Culture 21, (2017): 205–23. Fascinating analysis of evangelical Christian ‘self-help’ books aimed at young women. Klement and Sagarin argue that the purity discourses woven into these books serve to perpetuate rape myths and rape culture.

Moslener, Sarah. 2017. ‘Material World: Gender and the Bible in Evangelical Purity Culture’. In The Bible and Feminism: Remapping the Field, edited by Yvonne Sherwood, 608–21. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Analyses evangelical messaging around purity that is found in Bibles marketed to teenage girls.

Nienhuis, Nancy and Beverly Mayne Kienzle. 2017. Saintly Women: Medieval Saints, Modern Women, and Intimate Partner Violence. London and New York: Routledge. Assesses the contemporary epidemic of intimate partner violence and explores how and why cultural and religious beliefs serve to excuse battery and to work against survivors’ attempts to find safety. Theological interpretations of sacred texts have been used for centuries to justify or minimize violence against women. The authors recover historical and especially medieval narratives whose protagonists endure violence that is framed by religious texts or arguments. The authors show how medieval theological themes that redeem battering in saints’ lives—suffering, obedience, ownership, and power—continue today in most religious traditions.

Smith, Mitzi J. 2017. ‘Dis-membering, Sexual Violence, and Confinement: A Womanist Intersectional Reading of the Story of the Levite’s Wife (Judges 19)’. In Mitzi J. Smith, Insights from African American Interpretation, 99-121. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.

Smith offers a womanist interpretation of Judges 19, reading it alongside the epidemic of sexual violence and the incarceration of poor black women. She argues that the murder and mutilation of the Levite’s secondary wife is ‘the ultimate tragic culmination of a lifetime of abuse, including physical confinement’ (p. 100).

Swindle, Paula J. 2017. ‘A Twisting of the Sacred: The Lived Experience of Religious Abuse’. PhD thesis, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG ),

Waters, Sonia E. 2017. ‘Reading Sodom through Sexual Violence Against Women’. Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 7/3: 274–283.

Aune, Kristin and Rebecca Barnes. 2018. In Churches Too: Church Response to Domestic AbuseA Case Study of Cumbria. Coventry University/University of Leicester. Research providing evidence on domestic abuse at a local level, focused on the county of Cumbria in north-west England.

Blyth, Caroline, Emily Colgan, and Katie B. Edwards (eds.). 2018. Rape Culture, Gender Violence, & Religion: Biblical Perspectives (Religion and Radicalism). Cham: Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Essays on rape culture and the Bible, with contributions on Lamentations and HIV (Lu Skerratt), brother-sister incest narratives (Johanna Stiebert), the Virgin Mary/Whore of Babylon binary (Teguh Mulya), female impurity and Genesis 34 (Jessica M. Keady), Andrea Dworkin (Julie Kelso), the story of Zimri and Cozbi in Numbers (Yael Klangwisan), the rape of David’s wives in 2 Samuel 15–20 (David Tombs), Lamentations 3 (Emma Nagouse), Homophobia (James Harding), an on teaching violent biblical texts in the USA (Susanne Scholz) and in Aotearoa New Zealand (Emily Colgan and Caroline Blyth).

Blyth, Caroline, Emily Colgan, and Katie B. Edwards (eds.). 2018. Rape Culture, Gender Violence, & Religion: Christian Perspectives (Religion and Radicalism). Cham: Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Essays on rape culture and Christian themes, with contributions on Christian self-help literature (Emily Colgan), men’s ministry (Robert Berra), the Australian Royal Commission into child sexual abuse (Kathleen McPhillips), the church and domestic violence (Daphne Marsden), epistemic violence of queer Christian discourses (Jo Henderson-Merrygold), Bonhoeffer (Dianne Rayson), domestic violence in Oceania contexts (Richard A. Davis), working with victims of sexual violence (Lisa Spriggens), date rape and the church (Philip Halstead), and response to trauma stories (Lisa Spriggens).

Blyth, Caroline, Emily Colgan, and Katie B. Edwards (eds.). 2018. Rape Culture, Gender Violence, & Religion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Religion and Radicalism). Cham: Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Essays on rape culture and religion, with contributions on women’s attitudes to gender-based violence in Samoa (Penelope Schoeffel, Ramona Boodoosingh and Galumalemana Steven Percival), colonisation and Christianization in the Pacific Islands (Jean Louis Rallu), the Thursdays in Black campaign in Aotearoa New Zealand (Harriet Winn), the Rwandan genocide (Breann Fallon), divorce sermons (Valerie Hobbs), transphobia and conservative Christian discourse (Caroline Blyth), LGBT affirmation (David Hare), Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (the law of the captive woman) and Louis John Steele’s painting Spoils to the Victor (Caroline Blyth and Jane Davidson-Ladd), women and land in Jeremiah (Emily Colgan), and rabbinic understandings of marital rape (Mari Rethelyi).

Dhillon-Keane, Nikki. 2018. Domestic Abuse in Church Communities: A Safe Pastoral Response. Redemptorist.

Minister, Meredith. 2018. Rape Culture on Campus. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Written by a scholar of religion, this book explores how existing responses to sexual violence on college and university campuses fail to address religious and cultural dynamics that make rape appear normal. Offering an alternative to quick solutions, Minister argues that long-term classroom interventions are necessary in order to understand religious and cultural complexities. Written for educators, administrators, activists, and students, it provides an accessible cultural studies approach to rape culture that complements existing social science approaches. Offers intersectional and interdisciplinary analysis of rape culture, and offers practical, classroom-based interventions.

Oakley, Lisa R., Kathryn S. Kinmond and Justin Humphreys. 2018. ‘Spiritual Abuse in Christian Faith Settings: Definition, Policy and Practice Guidance’. Journal of Adult Protection, 20(3/4): 144–54.

Smith, Mitzi J. 2018. Womanist Sass and Talk Back: Social (In)Justice, Intersectionality, and Biblical Interpretation. Eugene, OR: Cascade. Womanist interpretation of John 4, Mark 7, Acts 8, Matthew 25, 2 Kings 2 and Daniel 13 (Susanna), focusing on sexualised, gendered and racialized violence in the biblical text and in the present.

Starr, Rachel. 2018. Reimagining Theologies of Marriage in Contexts of Domestic Violence: When Salvation is Survival. Abingdon: Routledge. Focuses on everyday practices of marriage in two different contexts: Argentina and England. Considers how Christian understandings of marriage as a covenant or sacrament relates to the lived experience of marriage.

Bible and Critical Theory 15/2 (2019). This special issue of the journal includes articles focusing on sexual violence in the Bible. Authors include Johanna Stiebert, Rhiannon Graybill, Mary Going, Zanne Domoney-Lyttle, and Ericka Dunbar. Available online here:

Clanton, Dan W. 2019. ‘The Divine Unsub: Television Crime Procedurals and Biblical Sexual Violence’. In The Bible in Crime Fiction and Drama: Murderous Texts, ed. Caroline Blyth and Alison Jack, 125-48. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. Reads biblical texts of terror intertextually with episodes of TV crime procedurals, such as Law & Order: SVU.

Fife, Janet and Gilo (eds.) 2019. Letters to a Broken Church, London: Ekklesia. Survivor words addressing the Church of England directly.

Graybill, Rhiannon, Meredith Minister, and Beatrice Lawrence (eds.). 2019. Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements (Feminist Studies and Sacred Texts). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Critical engagement between religious texts and the problem of sexual violence, in the light of sexual violence being widespread on college and university campuses where these texts are taught. The volume addresses difficult intersections in a range of chapters by religious studies scholars to offer constructive assessment of religious texts and traditions. Includes chapters on reading rape texts in university settings (Susanne Scholz), rape slavery (Gwynn Kessler), Judges 19 (Minenhle Nomanlungelo Khumalo), Marian reproductive justice (Jeremy Posadas) and rabbinic constructions of gender (Beatrice Lawrence).

Katz, Steven T. 2019. Holocaust Studies: Critical Reflections. Oxford, New York: Routledge. Essays on the Shoah/Holocaust. Includes a number of harrowing chapters, including one on rape, and another on Jewish theologians’ response to the events of the Shoah/Holocaust.

Oakley, Lisa and Justin Humphreys. 2019. Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating Healthy Christian Cultures. London: SPCK. Draws on extensive research, individual testimonies, and hands-on experience. Describes spiritual abuse, what it is, its diversity and consequences, as well as ways of countering it. 

Peppiatt, Lucy. 2019. Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts. InterVarsity.

Sweetman, Esther (ed). 2019. Restored: A Handbook for Female Christian Survivors of Domestic Abuse. Restored. Fourteen chapters divided into three sections: managing practical realities after leaving a male abuser, healing and recovery after leaving a male abuser, and theological issues relating to domestic abuse (including a section on Bible passages).

Yates, J. and Snodgrass, J. L. 2019. ‘The Religious Locations of LGBTQ+ Survivors: Survivors of Christian Nonsexual Spiritual Abuse’. In: Snodgrass, J. L. (ed.), Navigating Religious Difference in Spiritual Care and Counseling, Essays in Honor of Kathleen J. Greider. Claremont Press, pp. 251–280.

The 2020s

Already a high number of publications, possibly in response to and emboldened by both public enquiries/commissions and large-scale protest movements (e.g. #MeToo and Black Lives Matter), as well as recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Claassens, L. Juliana M. 2020. Writing and Reading to Survive: Biblical and Contemporary Trauma Narratives in Conversation. Sheffield: Phoenix. An intertextual reading of biblical and fictional texts to discern evidence of trauma and ways of healing. Biblical texts explored are Genesis 19, Ruth, stories of Genesis matriarchs, Dinah of Genesis 34, Lamentations.

Davis, Maxine and Maxine Johnson. 2020. Exploring Black Clergy Perspectives on Religious/Spiritual Related Domestic Violence: First Steps in Facing those Who Wield the Sword Abusively. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 30/1: 1–22.

Goodwin, Megan. 2020. Abusing Religion: Literary Persecution, Sex Scandals, and American Minority Religions. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Focused on religious sex abuse (occurring in religious communities, perpetrated by religious authorities, or enabled/concealed by religious institutions). Combines literary criticism, legal history, media analysis and religious studies theory to investigate how such abuse happens and how to dismantle it. Argues the problem is not just religious but American.

Hurlbert, Brandon. 2020. ‘Cut & Splice: Reading Judges 19 Cinematically’. Biblical Interpretation 30/2: 125-149. An interesting exploration of Judges 19 through a cinematic lens in order to recover the agency and dignity of the Levite’s wife and to better visualize the brutal violence in the text.

Junior, Nyasha. 2020. ‘The Mark of Cain and White Violence’ Journal of Biblical Literature 139/4: 661–673. Womanist biblical scholar Nyasha Junior examines how the biblical text of the mark of Cain has been read in terms of both Black Cain and White Cain, as well as how interpretations have neglected both the violent consequence of interpretation and African diasporic traditions offering counter-traditions.

McPhillips, Kathleen. 2020. ‘Religion after the royal commission: Challenges to religion state relations’. Religions, 11: 1–13. This article examines and evaluates the nexus between state and religion in Australian public life as it is emerging in a post-Royal Commission environment, and in particular contested claims around the meaning and value of religious freedom versus the necessity of institutional reform to ensure that religious organisations can demonstrate safety for children and other vulnerable groups.

Nam, Roger S. 2020. ‘Biblical Studies, COVID-19, and Our Response to Growing Inequality’ Journal of Biblical Literature 139/3: 600–606. Interrogates if and how well the Society of Biblical Literature ‘cultivate[s] empathy in our diverse world’ (part of its mission statement) in the light of growing inequalities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. The piece is part of a number of contributions in the journal edition, reflecting in a variety of ways on the pandemic.

O’Donnell, Karen and Katie Cross (eds.). 2020. Feminist Trauma Theologies: Body, Scripture and Church in Critical Perspective. SCM. A collection of essays exploring multiple themes pertaining to trauma, Bible, Christianity, and church from a range of feminist outlooks. Contains a chapter on coercive control by Al McFadyen and another about reading Hosea 2:2-23 (on the abuse of Gomer) in a context of co-existing intimate partner violence and religious belief, by Kirsi Cobb. (See also O’Donnell and Cross’s second edited volume of 2022.)

Paynter, Helen. 2020. The Bible Doesn’t Tell Me So: Why You Don’t Have To Submit to Domestic Abuse and Coercive Control. Abingdon, Oxford: The Bible Reading Fellowship. Analysis of biblical texts and attempts to use them for abusive purposes. Aimed primarily at victims of domestic abuse. Accessible and focused on practical results.

Paynter, Helen. 2020. Telling Terror in Judges 19: Rape and Reparation for the Levite’s Wife. London, New York: Routledge. Examines earlier, in particular feminist, interpretations of Judges 19 and offers a new reparative reading, informed by contemporary events, such as the gang-rape of Jyoti Singh in India.

Paynter, Helen and Michael Spalione (eds.). 2020. The Bible on Violence: A Thick Description. Sheffield: Phoenix Press. A collection of essays including on examining violence (Helen Paynter), violence in divine-human relationship (Deborah Kahn-Harris), domestic violence (Steve Carter), sexual violence (Monica Jones), rape culture in sermons on divorce (Valerie Hobbs) and naming Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse (Jayme Reaves and David Tombs).

Bissessar, Ann Marie and Camille Huggins (eds.). 2021. Gender and Domestic Violence in the Caribbean. Palgrave Macmillan. A collection of 17 chapters. None are squarely focused on religion but religion appears throughout.

Stanley, Olivia. 2020. “A Personal Encounter with Purity Culture in an Evangelical Christian School.” Bible and Critical Theory 16/1: 187-206. An autoethnographic study of purity culture in New Zealand.

Stiebert, Johanna. 2020. Rape Myths, The Bible, and #MeToo (Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible). London, New York: Routledge Focus. Inaugural volume of the series. Examines rape culture, rape myths, and the Bible (Hebrew Bible and New Testament) with inter-facing of ancient texts and contemporary contexts (particularly as highlighted by MeToo movement).

Allison, Emily Joy. 2021. #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing. Broadleaf Books.

Blyth, Caroline. 2021. Rape Culture, Purity Culture, and Coercive Control in Teen Girl Bibles. London, New York: Routledge. A close examination of the disturbing tenor and content of annotations in evangelical Christian Bibles targeted at teen girls.

Cobb, Kirsi. 2021. ‘”Look at what They’ve Turned us into”: Reading the Story of Lot’s Daughters with Trauma Theory and The Handmaid’s Tale’. Open Theology: Special Issue on Women and Gender in the Bible and the Biblical World II, 7:1: pp.208–223. Available at An interdisciplinary inter-reading.

Cottrill, A. C. 2021. Uncovering Violence: Reading Biblical Narratives as an Ethical Project. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Dunbar, Ericka Shawndricka. 2021. Trafficking Hadassah: Collective Trauma, Cultural Memory, and Identity in the Book of Esther and in the African Diaspora. London, New York: Routledge. Explores trafficking, gender-based violence, and racism in the book of Esther, Maafa (enslavement) narratives, and in modern contexts.

Emanuel, Sarah. 2021. Trauma Theology, Trauma Story: A Narrative of Biblical Studies and the World of Trauma (Brill Research Perspectives). Leiden: Brill.

Gardner, Fiona. 2021. Sex, Power, Control: Responding to Abuse in the Institutional Church. Cambridge: Lutterworth Press. Explores the underlying reasons for the mishandling of recent clerical abuse cases. Using psychoanalytical and sociological insights, and including the author’s own experiences as shown in the BBC documentary Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, it explores why the churches are in such crisis, and how issues of power and control have contributed to secrecy, deception and heartache. Draws on survivor accounts and probes the psychology of clergy abusers.

Graybill, Rhiannon. 2021. Texts After Terror: Rape, Sexual Violence, & the Hebrew Bible. Oxford and New York: OUP. A reflection on biblical depictions of rape. Focus on Dinah, Tamar, Lot’s Daughters, Bathsheba, Hagar and Sarah and Lamentations.

Graystone, Andrew. 2021. Bleeding for Jesus: John Smyth and the cult of Iwerne camps. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. Focusing on the brutal physical and psychological abuse perpetrated by John Smyth QC, and about the cover-up of the abuse within the Church of England. Includes testimony of multiple survivors.

Greenough, Chris. 2021. The Bible and Sexual Violence Against Men (Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible). London, New York: Routledge Focus. Explores myths around sexual abuse of men, hegemonic masculinity, sexual violence against men (including Jesus) in the Bible (Hebrew Bible and New Testament), as perpetrated by women and men.

Koloti, Rhine Phillip Tsobotsi. 2021. ‘Pastoral Care Responses to Clergy Sexual Abuse: A Case Study of the Anglican Church of South Africa’. MA Thesis, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. See here

Kuegler, Joachim. 2021. Sexualitaet, Macht, Religion: Zeitreisen ins Bermuda-Dreieck menschlicher Existenz. Wuerzburg: Echter. Explores case studies on the intersections of sex, power, and religion, including on religious abuse, to make over-arching assessments about how the past illuminates the present. Focus chapters on Egyptian Queen/King Hatshepsut, on Joseph (Genesis 39), on sexualised abuse of Jesus, gender in Paul, and on virgins and widows in antiquity. [Written in German.]

Labeodan, Helen A., Rosemary Amenga-Etego, Johanna Stiebert, and Mark S. Aidoo (eds.). 2021. Covid-19: African Women and the Will to Survive. Bible in Africa Studies 31 (Exploring Religion in Africa 8). Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press. This volume, initiated by the Circle for African Women Theologians (West Africa chapter) contains responses by theologians, biblical scholars, scholars of religion and poets to the Covid-19 pandemic, including with reference to women’s experiences, and experiences of domestic abuse. Available for free download:

Melanchthon, Monica J. and Robyn Whitaker (eds.). 2021. Terror in the Bible: Rhetoric, Gender, and Violence. Atlanta: SBL. Available for free download: Superb collection of essays with strongly intersectional focus. Foreword by Phyllis Trible. Hebrew Bible and New Testament chapters. Contributions by Laura Griffin, Karen Eller, Rachelle Gilmour, Dorothy A. Lee, Angela Sawyer, Robyn Whitaker, Adela Yarbro Collins, David Tombs, Brent Pelton, Gerald O. West, J. Havea, Monica Melanchthon.

Reaves, Jayme R., David Tombs and Rocio Figueroa (eds.). 2021. When Did We See You Naked? Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse. London: SCM. A range of essays exploring the impact of acknowledging Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse. Why was it obscured for so long? How does it have bearing on survivors? Includes survivor testimony and trauma theology. Contributions by: David Tombs, Michael Trainor, Mitzi J. Smith, Monica C. Poole, Jeremy Punt, Gerald O. West, Padraig O Tuama, Carlton Turner, Rachel Starr, Elisabet le Roux, Teguh Wijaya Mulya, Nicola Slee, Mmapula Diana Kebaneilwe, Beth R. Crisp, Karen O’Donnell, Shanell T. Smith, Rocio Figueroa and David Tombs.

Sweerts, Evelyn. 2021. ‘He Made Her Play the Harlot: Judges 19 through the Lens of Domestic Abuse’. The Priscilla Papers (Challenges of Marriage and Singleness) 35/3 (available online here).

Tan, Nancy Nam Hoon. 2021. Resisting Rape Culture: The Hebrew Bible and Hong Kong Sex Workers. Abingdon, New York: Routledge Focus. A co-produced text that evolved from Nancy Tan’s Bible studies with Hong Kong-based sex workers. Explores the harmful effect of rape culture on sex workers and the ways the Bible can be complicit in this. Includes focus on Genesis 38 (Tamar and Judah), the story of King Solomon and the sex workers, and Hosea 1–3.

Van Klinken, Adriaan and Johanna Stiebert, with Sebyala Brian and Fredrick Hudson. 2021. Sacred Queer Stories: Ugandan LGBTQ+ Refugee Lives and the Bible. Woodbridge, Suffolk: James Currey. The book is a co-production by two UK-based academics and two Ugandan LGBTQ+ refugees, based on collaborative empirical research in Kenya. It combines refugee life stories and two Bible stories (Daniel 6 and John 8:1-11) using a method called hermeneutics of trust. The book demonstrates and explores how religious settings and the Bible can be used both for abusive (in particular, homophobic) and for liberatory effect.

Warren, Meredith J. C. 2021. ‘Five Husbands: Slut-Shaming the Samaritan Woman’. Bible & Critical Theory 17/2: 51-69. Available online: A rape-culture-sensitive reading of the story in John 4, widely called ‘Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well’.

Clough, Miryam. 2022. Vocation and Violence: The Church and #MeToo. London, New York: Routledge. A study of clergy sexual misconduct and its impact on women’s vocation. Includes personal experience and findings from interviews.

Cobb, Christy and Eric Vanden Eykel (eds.). 2022. Sex, Violence, and Early Christian Texts. Lexington Books. A significant collection of essays exhuming and analysing language and allusions to rape, sexual abuse and assault in the New Testament alongside other early Christian literature. With contributions by Christy Cobb, Eric Vanden Eykel, Tara Baldrick-Morrone, Chance Bonar, Jennifer Collins-Elliott, Arminta Fox, Midori Hartman, LaToya Leary Francis, Travis Proctor, Joshua Reno, Laura Robinson, Jeannie Sellick, Meredith Warren, and Stephen Young.

Gott, Chloe K. 2022. Experience, Identity and Epistemic Injustice within Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. London, New York: Bloomsbury. A qualitative research-based study on the religious identities of women and how they have been shaped by religious disciplinary processes in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries. Explores if and how women re-engage with their sense of self after leaving abusive religious institutions.

Harvey, Nicholas Peter and Linda Woodhead. 2022. Unknowing God: Towards a Post-abusive Theology. Cascade. Written by a former Catholic priest and a sociologist of religion, this book reflects the Catholic and Anglican traditions and the abuses carried out in their name.

Koenig, Judith. 2022. ‘The “Great Whore” of Babylon (Rev 17) as a Non-Survivor of Sexual Abuse’. Religions 13/3, 267. A reading of the sexually abusive punishment of feminized Babylon in the book of Revelation in the light of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. The article is part of a special journal issue, Sexual and Spiritual Violence against Adult Men and Women in the Catholic Church.

Koepping, Elizabeth. 2022. Spousal Violence Among World Christians: Silent Scandal. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic. The book takes a global approach to violence between married men and women in faith contexts, focusing primarily on Christian contexts (with less developed reference to Islamic and Buddhist contexts). It uses anthropological and theological methods and includes some exploration of how churches are complicit in marital violence.

Kuegler, Joachim. 2022. Zeus Syndrome: A Very Short History of Religion-Based Masculine Domination. London, New York: Routledge. A critical assessment of the biblical concepts of gender hierarchy and the intersection of sex/gender, power, and religion. Beginning with #MeToo and the abuse of religious power in the Catholic Church, it presents a concise selection of historical case studies from ancient Egypt, the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. In doing so, the book demonstrates how a specific construction of the relationship between sex/gender, power and religion not only excludes women and every person conceived as feminine or effeminate from power but also produces – almost automatically – a rape culture, which uses and excuses violent sexuality as an appropriate manifestation of masculine power.

Laurence, Trevor and Helen Paynter (eds.). 2022. Violent Biblical Texts: New Approaches. Sheffield Phoenix Press. Contains chapters on using the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to examine modern violence, by Matthew Lynch; on Judges 20-21 (the war and kidnappings following the rape and killing of the Levite’s wife), by Brandon Hurlbert; on imprecatory psalms, by Trevor Laurence; on Ezekiel 23 (the extensive and violent woman metaphor), by Havilah Dharamraj; and on women and violence in Revelation, by Helen Paynter.

Moore, Will. 2022. Boys Will Be Boys and Other Myths: Unravelling Biblical Masculinities. SCM. Accessible analysis of biblical men (Adam, Moses, Jesus, the disciples) with exploration of masculinity in biblical worlds and of how it has bearing on the present.

O’Donnell, Karen and Katie Cross (eds.). 2022. Bearing Witness: Intersectional Perspectives on Trauma Theology. SCM. A follow-up volume to their 2020 SCM volume, offering more perspectives on trauma and its resonance in lived Christianity and theology.

Page, Sarah-Jane, and Pam Lowe. 2022. ‘Gendered Violence, Religion and UK-based Anti-Abortion Activism’. Religion and Gender 12/1: 5-28. A UK-based ethnographic study examining whether anti-abortion activism constitutes gendered violence. Page and Lowe focus on two activities of the activists (prayer and graphic images), arguing that both of these activities are part of a continuum of violence, causing harm to those seeking abortion services.

Parker, Eve. 2022. Trust in Theological Education: Deconstructing ‘Trustworthiness’ for a Pedagogy of Liberation. London: SCM. A thorough reflection on the notions of trust and trustworthiness in the light of social changes, intersectionality and reflections on abuse scandals in the church. UK focus, using feminist, black, indecent and postcolonial theologies to examine and challenge dominant models of theological education. Includes some reflections on biblical texts, including the stories of Hagar, Delilah and the Levite’s wife.

Samuel, Fernández.  2022. ‘Victims Are Not Guilty! Spiritual Abuse and Ecclesiastical Responsibility.’ Religions 13: 427. Available here: Makes the case that victims of spiritual abuse bear no guilt for what they have endured and that, in the Catholic setting, the Church has an institutional responsibility for such abuse. Analyses the definition of spiritual abuse; tackles several topics stemming from this analysis, e.g., spiritual power and its effects, as well as vulnerability and intentionality, and the institutional dimension of spiritual abuse in Catholic settings.

Spalione, Michael and Helen Paynter (eds). 2022. Map or Compass?: The Bible on Violence. Sheffield Phoenix. Contains chapters on Deut. 22:28-29 (the rape of an unbetrothed virgin) by Isaac McNish; on Judges 19 (the Levite and his wife) by Rebekah Legg; on Mary Magdalene, by Siobhan Jolley; on Esther, by Brandon Hurlbert; and on forced marriage by Cath Kennedy.

Thiede, Barbara. 2022. Male Friendship, Homosociality, and Women in the Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities. Oxford, New York: Routledge. Focuses on a Hebrew Bible trope whereby men/male characters bond over the abuse of women. Case studies are presented from Genesis 38, David/Jonathan/Saul, 2 Samuel 13, Genesis 12, 20 and 26, Judges 19-21 and Judges 4-5.

Thiede, Barbara. 2022. Rape Culture in the House of David: A Company of Men. London, New York: Routledge. Contains a critical analysis of the categories of ‘rape’ and ‘rape culture’ in the context of biblical studies. Careful analysis of how rape functions to facilitate male bonds in the David story.

Tombs, David. 2022. The Crucifixion of Jesus: Torture, Sexual Abuse, and the Scandal of the Cross. (Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible). London and New York: Routledge. This book is available open access!

Nessler, B. 2023. ‘Tracing Bathsheba’s Metamorphosis Through the Lens of Trauma and Recovery.’ Journal of Biblical Literature 142/1: 91–109. DOI: 10.15699/jbl.1421.2023.5.

Warren, Meredith J. C. 2023. ‘Rape Jokes, Sexual Violence, and Empire in Revelation and This Is The End’. Journal of Religion and Film 27/1, Article 59. Open access: An analysis of rape ‘jokes’, examining sexualised violent punishment in Revelation and a modern film. In both that which makes claims to being subversive is rehashing well worn toxic and sexist tropes.

Select Online Resources

Ariyo, Debbie. 2013. Impact of Witchcraft Branding on Child Sexual Abuse in the UK. Afruka. 

Analysis of witchcraft branding in cases of sexual abuse of African children in the UK.

Avisa. Offers a history of sexual harassment in texts and images. Bilingual site: French and English.

Barefoot Tales. The blog of survivor of clergy abuse, Jane Chevous.

Church of England. 2017. Responding Well to Domestic Abuse: Policy and Practice Guidance.

Confusion to Clarity. A blog by Helena Knowlton for Christian women survivors of psychologically and spiritually abusive marriages.

CSBV. The Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence is an ecumenical Christian academic centre and part of Bristol Bible College. It has a wealth of resources (for churches and academics) and posts on intersections between Bible and various forms of violence.

Evangelical Alliance. 2018. Reviewing the Discourse of ‘Spiritual Abuse’ Logical Problems & Unintended Consequences A report by the Evangelical Alliance Theology Advisory Group. The focus of the report is on abuse variously described as emotional or psychological abuse, and on the occurrence of such abuse in contexts identified as religious. Some have classified this as ‘spiritual abuse’, but the report seeks to show that this term is problematic because of its own inherent ambiguity, and because of attempts by some to embed it within statutory safeguarding discourse and secular law. The report argues this would be unworkable in practice, potentially discriminatory towards religious communities, and damaging to inter-faith relations.

Faith Trust Institute. Offers services and resources, including training, consulting and educational materials. Aimed at ending sexual and domestic violence. Seeks to provide communities and advocates with tools and knowledge to address the religious and cultural issues related to abuse. Works with multiple communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander, Buddhist, Jewish, Latino/a, Muslim, Black, Anglo, Indigenous, Protestant and Roman Catholic.

Flying Free. Natalie Hoffman on navigating difficult and confusing marriages/relationships. Aimed at persons of faith.

Gatiss, Lee. 2019. ‘What is Spiritual Abuse?Anglican Link. Defines spiritual abuse and explains how it can be avoided. Church of England focus.

Graybill, Rhiannon. No date. ‘Focus on teaching about sexual violence in the Hebrew Bible’. Oxford Biblical Studies Online.

Greenough, Chris. 2018. ‘Some Christian groups still promote “gay conversion therapy” – but their influence is waning’. The Conversation.

Matthews, Shelly. N.d. ‘Violence in the New Testament’.

Restored. Christian organisation aimed at ending violence against women and girls and domestic abuse. Works through churches. Offers a range of resources and support.

Rocker, S. 2021. ‘Call to stop forced marriages in the Jewish community’. The Jewish Chronicle.

The Shiloh Project. The project is named after the mass rape of the women of Shiloh in the Bible (see Judges 21). The blog contains a wealth of resources and articles on rape culture, religion, and the Bible. It is directed by scholars of religion and the Bible.

Survivors Voices. A survivor-led organisation that harnesses the expertise of people affected by abuse in order to transform society’s response to trauma and abuse. Includes victims of clergy abuse, e.g., Jane Chevous, who is on the National Safeguarding Panel of the Church of England, and committed to ensuring survivors’ perspectives are central to the necessary changes to safeguarding in the faith sector.

The Ujamaa Centre. The Ujamaa Centre is an interface between socially engaged biblical and theological scholars, organic intellectuals, and local communities of the poor, working-class, and marginalised, using biblical and theological resources for individual and social transformation. Using the Bible for liberatory purposes – including to resist gender-based violence (the Tamar Campaign).

Unholy Charade. Aimed at unmasking domestic abuse and abusers in churches. With Jeff Crippen. Helpful explanations of concepts.


The Bloody Bible. Considers the inter-relations between violence in the Bible and cases of true crime. Hosted by Caroline Blyth and Emily Colgan.

The Devil Within. Investigative reporting on individual cases of spiritual abuse and exorcism in the USA (Series 1) and UK (Series 2). (Requires Wondery subscription.)

Guns and God. Explores the intersections of Bible, Christianity, and politics. Produced by CSBV (see ‘Online Resources’, above).

Let’s Talk About Sects. Sarah Steel introduces cults and sects, including the abuse they bring about (emotional, spiritual, sexual, physical, psychological), with lots of footage/input from those directly involved. Most of these sects are Christian/Christian-derived, e.g., KwaSizabantu, Gloriavale, and Zion Full Salvation Ministry.

Princess (on BBC Radio 4, see BBC Sounds) is a superb podcast hosted by Anita Anand. The podcast examines princesses (from ancient and modern history, fiction and religious literature), often with a feminist lens. Especially highly recommended for anyone interested in religion, sexual violence, and abuse are episodes on Sumerian priestess and princess Enheduanna (possibly the earliest named woman writer to record her own sexual assault), and on Devi Sita (of the Indian epic recounting the love and relationship between Rama and Sita).

The Roys Report: A podcast by Julie Roys subtitled ‘Reporting the Truth. Restoring the Church.’ Includes episodes on clergy abuse by Ravi Zacharias, domestic abuse, and other abuses in church settings.

#SheToo: podcast produced by The Bible Society, examining women of the Bible and the violence they encounter. Episodes on Hagar (Genesis 16, 21), Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11), the Levite’s wife (Judges 19), Tamar (2 Samuel 13) and Jezebel (Revelation 2:19-24).

The Shiloh Podcast: on rape culture, religion, and the Bible, a podcast by the Shiloh Project (see ‘Online Resources’, above). Hosted by Rosie Dawson. Later episodes focus on abuse in a range of religious settings, including some webinar recordings.

Matthew Syed’s podcast Sideways (available on BBC Sounds), has a fabulous episode All in a Name on the naming of sexual harassment and the emergence of MeToo.

The Spiritual Abuse Podcast: Billed as ‘Just two guys talking about life after spiritual abuse’. Eddie Wilson and Joseph Lopez (with occasional guests) in conversation about spiritual abuse – what it is, what it does, how to move past it, and how to prevent it.

Talking Research with Asmita Sood. A podcast about academic research into sexual violence. Some episodes focus (in part) on religion, or on matters pertinent to religion, or on how religion intersects with research on sexual violence.