Historical Jesus

"Gendered Activity and Jesus’s Saying Not to Worry,” Neotest. 50.1 (2016): 35-52.

The flowers’ activity in the saying of Jesus about anxiety indicates an interest in cloth production across the socio-economic spectrum. I demonstrate that wool-working is a central feature of the multiform tradition of this saying and that spinning in particular was associated with women. I further note that the activity of gazing at flowers was an activity that was connected with the iconography of the goddess Spes, the Roman personification of Hope. These two cues render the entire saying an exhortation toward the feminine.

Paul and Politics

"Crowns in 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and 1 Corinthians," Biblica 96 (2015): 67-84.

The image of the crown appears in 1 Thess 2,19, Phil 4,1, and 1 Cor 9,25. However, the crowns differ. While the community constitutes the apostle’s crown in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians, the crown in 1 Corinthians is one of communal contestation. In this paper, I compare the image of the crown in each of the letters. I argue that the crown in 1 Corinthians, available to all believers even at Paul’s expense, is the least hierarchical of the three crowns.

Church Leadership

"Rahab, Esther, and Judith as Models for Church Leadership in 1 Clement,” JECH [formerly APB] 5.2 (2015): 94-110.


Several powerful women receive praise in 1 Clement. Clement introduces women into the historical survey known from Hebrews. He compares female martyrs with apostles, and he lists Esther and Judith with foreign kings. I argue that Clement's validation of the prayer and prophecy of figures such as Esther and Judith indicates that Clement is not opposed to female leadership, and, indeed, Clement does not forbid women from office in his discussion of the leadership structures of the Corinthian church. Clement's concerns may be connected to the contemporary movement from temporary ecclesial offices to less democratic, permanent priesthoods in Roman Greece. Roman control of Greece increased the importance of belonging to the Greek aristocracy. Corinthian Christian support for democratically elected leaders could be the impetus for Clement's letter. Arguing against Roman Greek priestesses and Christian female leaders on account of their sex is not part of Clement's project. We have no evidence from 1 Clement that the letter, which refers to the Pauline correspondence with churches of Corinth, knows of and adheres to the injunction against female public speech in the Pastoral Stratum of 1 Corinthians 14:34–35.

Clement, Rome, and Politics

"The Phoenix in 1 Clement," Studia Patristica (2017).

The appearance of the phoenix in chapter 25 of 1 Clement serves as a proof of the resurrection along with the temple and sown seed of chapters 23 and 24 and the Jewish figure of Job in chapter 26. 1 Clement presents the phoenix myth as if the letter’s audience lacked the complete tradition, though the church of Corinth should have been acquainted with the phoenix. The bird was a common fixture of Greek and Roman mythology and Roman political life and naturalistic discussion. 1 Clement 
 demonstrates that this important Roman natural sign is a foreign bird with equally exotic witnesses. Like the Christian savior who has paradoxical honor in a hostile Roman imperial context, the phoenix is an Arabian bird that dies and reduces to a worm which regains its glorious form and receives honor from a venerable Egyptian cultic site. A bird known to be androgynous, the phoenix receives no description of gendered habits or plumage. In 1 Clement, the phoenix therefore constitutes natural and inclusive proof from the realm of Roman knowledge that resurrection can be expected even by those outside of the Roman Empire. Implicitly, as inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the Corinthian community should believe in the paradoxical sign of the phoenix.

Longus and Politics

"The Spring as a Civilizing Mechanism in Daphnis and Chloe," Cultural Crossroads in the Ancient Novel (DeGruyter, 2017). 121-140.

In Daphnis and Chloe, the spring is the central motif of the proem and the novel as a whole. The motif counters male domination as it is associated with Chloe, while the flowers that springs in the novel water are identified with Daphnis. This study will examine how the motif of the springs develops the resistance of Daphnis and Chloe to pervasive cultural constructions of gender, creating individuals who participate in larger society without reproducing its structures.

Esther and Politics

"Permanent and Temporary Ethnicity in the Esther Scroll," Megilloth Studies (Sheffield Phoenix, 2016), 110-124.

If the Jews entered into their period of Babylonian captivity with merely a language and a national consciousness, like other conquered nations, the book of Esther represents part of the effort to develop Jewish national identity after the option of being Jewish rather than a Jewish captive once again appeared. For Esther, an interplay between Jewish national identity and diaspora national identity is possible.

Daniel and Politics

"Hellenistic Imagery and Iconography in Daniel 12.5-13." JSP 19.2 (2009): 127-145.


Though often interpreted in light of Mesopotamian traditions, exegetically problematic images in Dan. 12.5-13 have analogues in Hellenistic visual and literary representations of river gods. Hellenistic associations from the preceding chapters of Daniel 10–12 are amplified in the epilogue. Like Hellenistic river gods, the man in linen stands on the river with two attendants and two hands lifted in an attitude of sacrifice, prayer, and prophecy (cf.1 En. 84.1-6). The man’s orientation suggests an evocation of the Jewish Temple, which was a pressing contemporary concern (cf.1 Macc. 1.54, 59). Thus, the Danielic author constructs a Hellenistic Jewish framework for the eschatological speculation meant to support Jewish interests over against Roman-controlled Seleucids and Ptolemies.

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© Janelle Peters