Francesco Cocco

Women in the Wilderness

The »Female Legislation« of the Book of Numbers (Num 5,11–31; 27,1–11; 30,2–17)

[Frauen in der Wildnis. »Weibliche Gesetzgebung« im Buch Numeri (Num 5,11–31; 27,1–11; 3,2–17).]

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Published in English.
In this work, Francesco Cocco studies the legislation of Numbers which deals with laws featuring women as their leading figures. The prominent place of women in the texts studied is peculiar because all three seem to be at odds with the notion of female autonomy. In fact, though, the author's in-depth study leads to an unexpected understanding of the laws.
How were legal issues featuring women treated and resolved in the Book of Numbers? Francesco Cocco studies a trio of texts and finds the prominent place afforded to women quite peculiar and, it seems, at odds with the notions of autonomy, freedom, self-determination, or whatever other synonym can be married conceptually to the idea of women in leading roles. This in-depth investigation goes beyond appearances however to reveal a broader, perhaps even unexpected, understanding of these three literary traditions – traditions which are the product of the skillful amalgamation of narrative and legislative material so characteristic of the Torah in general and the Book of Numbers in particular.

Francesco Cocco Born 1975; studied at the Theological Institute of Assisi (Italy) and at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome); 2006 doctorate in Sacred Scriptures from the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome); currently Professor of Old Testament Exegesis (Pentateuch) at the Pontifical Urbaniana University (Rome, Italy).


The following reviews are known:

In: Journal for the Study of the OT — 45 (2021) (Sandra Jacobs)
In: Catholic Biblical Quarterly — 83 (2021), pp. 488–490 (Micha Roi)
In: Review of Biblical Literature — (8/2021) (Deborah Rooke)