,The Bible is one of the most anti-feminine, “down with women” books in the Library. Oh, sure, you can find passages (and even small books like Esther and Ruth) that exalt the role of certain women but for the most part, the Hebrew and Christian Bibles are openly, blatantly, misogynistic. And that’s a fact.
They portray the female as secondary to the male; not just different, but subordinate. The Ten Commandments make this very clear when they list all the things that belong to a man’s neighbor that he must not covet: his house, his slaves, his ox or donkey, and oh yes, his wife!
But this was part of their culture—as it was in nearly every other ancient society except Egypt and Rome. In ancient Israel, a woman’s social and legal position was far inferior to her husband, father or brother. Father Roland de Vaux, one of the leading Scripture Scholars & archeologists back in my day, felt that this prejudicial culture was deeply imbedded there, and that our biblical authors simply reflected the attitude they saw around them. He writes:
“The wife called her husband Ba'al or master; she also called him adon or lord; she addressed him, in fact, as a slave addressed her master or a subject, her king.”
But then our Hebrew authors went on to canonize this male hedonism and make it biblical.
Okay. But that was two thousand years ago. What about today? Have we overcome this Biblical/cultural idiocy? Well, let’s look at our American business world. According to the recent report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, our entire US labor force is now almost half women (46.8%) That’s a good sign. And we know there are already more women than men in professional positions like doctors and lawyers, etc. (51.4%)
However, here is where the equity stops. Guess how many women sit in our prestigious Board of Director chairs? 16.9%. How many populate our executive offices? 14.6%. What percentage of the top earners are women? 8.1%. And finally, what percentage of our Corporate CEO’s are women? A measly 4.8%. If we continue on as is, it will be 2085 before women are on parity with men in business. What did women do to deserve this kind of male-chauvinistic treatment?
Ahh… Now we get to the root of it all: The second creation story in Genesis: Adam and Eve. We don’t know when this fascinating and denigrating myth was first told; maybe during the time of Moses or maybe later when the Jews had settled in Israel.
But it was probably written down around the year 587 BC, while all the Jewish Leaders were hunkered down in Babylon, our modern Iraq. It was at this time that all the existing stories and writings and traditions were edited and written into one book, which we now call the Old Testament, or, if we’re Jewish: the Tanakh.
Adam and Eve was the story that survived all those years, and inevitably crept into our American culture and the Pauline texts in our New Testament. We are a Biblical culture, wedded to the Bible, and since only men were allowed to preach this Bible until recently, we were taught that women (in the person of Eve) brought sin and death into the world, and that all women ever after must suffer her punishment, and be subservient to men.
Thankfully, we don’t believe this anymore. When football players treat their girlfriends like slaves, Americans explode; and as the glass ceiling breaks and crumbles in more and more businesses, the economy rises. Women are gradually finding their rightful, ethical place in American society, and more and more Christians and Jews are reading their Bibles with more intelligence and understanding.