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The Legitimization Of Female Inferiority In Genesis 3

1392 words - 6 pages

The Christian Bible serves as an instrument by which modern societal change can be denounced or affirmed, and, overall, it is a text that carries a great deal of cultural and societal clout in our world. There seems to be two powerful paradigms relative to the male/female relationship within the Bible: a male-dominated patriarchal or hierarchical paradigm, and an egalitarian one (Fewell & Gunn, 1993:22). Hence, it should come as no surprise that the Bible has been a source of much conflict when addressing questions of the role of women in our society in this regard; historical impositions on women have been justified as both scriptural and theological (Prusak, 1974:97). The Genesis creation/fall narratives represent a primary source for a Christian understanding of both the essence and existence of humanity (Fewell & Gunn, 1993:28). With this in mind, it may seem easy to discover the root of female inferiority and sexism that exists today within the doctrines of ancient biblical texts; however, what does exist in the Bible, and most notably in Genesis, upon closer examination is not a view that calls for the direct inferiority of women by virtue of God's whims, but rather is a propensity that describes the effects of sin on the original created order; it does not prescribe that order's intrinsic design (Scovill, 1995).If God is male, then all males are automatically more God-like than all females, resulting in a clear necessity of a hierarchy within humanity; patriarchy is structured on that assumption (Fewell & Gunn, 1993:24). If we are to believe the patriarchal message derived from Genesis and the rest of the biblical text, we must assume a literal interpretation of the Bible. However, in order to seek a less sexist view of women beyond patriarchy, we must first acknowledge that Christian theology has always recognized, at least theoretically, that all language for God is analogous and metaphorical, and not literal. Hence, the "inspired words" of God in the biblical text cannot, and should not, be interpreted literally. In many respects, the Genesis chapters can be interpreted to reinforce the equality between men and women; however, many have instead taken a patriarchal message from it. The error in doing so lies with the interpreters of the texts, and not in the Bible itself, and through interpretation, women may be conveyed as being either inferior or equal to man. Does the Bible teach an intrinsic subordination of women through the "inspired" words of God, or is this subordination merely situational? Ambiguity arises in regards to women's equality vis-à -vis men arises mainly due to the later commentary on the two creation stories contained in Genesis, and in Genesis 3, which narrates the Fall. The first creation narrative speaks of man and woman as equal, created at the same time, both in the image of God. Nowhere in the Bible is it explicit that subservience was to be a role reserved for women; however, it...

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