A Jewish Reading of The Woman’s Bible
The Woman's Bible shows typical characteristics of nineteenth-century thought, including a replacement of a personal God with Nature, an attraction to historical-critical methods of the study of scripture, a belief in progressive revelation, Orientalism, theological anti-Semitism, and an interest in the occult. These ideas inform its very mixed picture of Judaism. Progressive revelation and Orientalism, forms of thought congenial to higher criticism, pervade the image of "the Jews," whose "backward" ideas degraded women. Jesus is judged to be free of patriarchy, while Paul's negative comments on women are attributed to his Jewishness. The anti-Jewish statements are tempered by Elizabeth Cady Stanton's rejection of Christian triumphalism, as well as some commentators' appreciation for Jewish insights. The commentary invites us to think about the relationship between abolitionist and suffragist exegesis, cultural determinism versus human agency, and the prescience of Cady Stanton and others in identifying issues that would engage feminist interpreters a century later.
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