Studies of the ancient Mediterranean world have been powerfully enhanced by the current awareness of the complexity that the politics of identity both reveals and covers over. In particular, heterogeneity strives with universalism where the forces of empire and colonialism produce multiple and charged cultural contact zones. At the borderlines of oppression, not only resistance but also enormous creativity is encountered in the production of hybridized subjects. How do we read or map gender at such complexly determined and politically ambivalent sites? How, furthermore, do we read or map gender across religious affiliation, breaking through prior barriers of disciplinary practice that have separated scholars of Christianity, Judaism and pagan or “classical” antiquity, without thereby losing all traction on the particularity of religious cult or culture, shifty and overlapping as these mappings may prove to be?

Virginia Burrus, “Mapping as Metamorphosis: Initial Reflections on Gender and Ancient Religious Discourses”, in Mapping Gender in Ancient Religious Discourses, ed. Todd Penner & Caroline Vander Stichele (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2007), 3-4.