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1 Survey of Background Materials Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) better the wickedness of a man than.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Survey of Background Materials Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) better the wickedness of a man than."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Survey of Background Materials Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) better the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good (42:14)Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) better the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good (42:14) Philo (ca. 20 BC to AD 50) warns that women are likely to be deceived because they are gentler, more accepting (Questions in Genesis 1.33)Philo (ca. 20 BC to AD 50) warns that women are likely to be deceived because they are gentler, more accepting (Questions in Genesis 1.33)

2 2 Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women Josephus (AD 27- -ca.100) The Law regards women as inferior in all things. Even so Josephus can divorce his wife simply because she displeased him (Life 426).Josephus (AD 27- -ca.100) The Law regards women as inferior in all things. Even so Josephus can divorce his wife simply because she displeased him (Life 426). Josephus claims womens testimony is not admitted by the Jews because of the levity and boldness of their sex (Antiquities 4.219).Josephus claims womens testimony is not admitted by the Jews because of the levity and boldness of their sex (Antiquities 4.219). Survey of Background Materials

3 3 Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women The Essenes also had a less than positive assessment, regarding women as lascivious and unfaithful (Jewish Wars 2.121), and for this reason they practiced celibacy.The Essenes also had a less than positive assessment, regarding women as lascivious and unfaithful (Jewish Wars 2.121), and for this reason they practiced celibacy. Rabbinic material – Most famous is the Jewish males thanksgiving that he was not a woman (t. Ber 7:18), though this might be less misogyny than gratefulness for fuller access to the Temple.Rabbinic material – Most famous is the Jewish males thanksgiving that he was not a woman (t. Ber 7:18), though this might be less misogyny than gratefulness for fuller access to the Temple. Survey of Background Materials

4 4 Negative Assessments of Women Negative Assessments of Women Rabbi Eliezer – better to burn the words of Torah than to give them to a woman (y. Sota 3.4) for to do so was like teaching a daughter lechery (m. Sota 3.4).Rabbi Eliezer – better to burn the words of Torah than to give them to a woman (y. Sota 3.4) for to do so was like teaching a daughter lechery (m. Sota 3.4). Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying – Lo, I shall lead her, so that I may make her male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself a male will enter the kingdom of heaven (114).Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying – Lo, I shall lead her, so that I may make her male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself a male will enter the kingdom of heaven (114). Survey of Background Materials

5 5 Positive Assessments of Women Positive Assessments of Women Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) do not let pass the opportunity to have a wise and good wife, for her grace is more precious than gold (7:19)Ben Sirach (ca. 180 BC) do not let pass the opportunity to have a wise and good wife, for her grace is more precious than gold (7:19) Josephus has no hesitation in recognizing exceptionally able women such as the wise Alexandra (Antiquities ) or the calculating Cleopatra whose machinations rivaled Herods (Antiquities ).Josephus has no hesitation in recognizing exceptionally able women such as the wise Alexandra (Antiquities ) or the calculating Cleopatra whose machinations rivaled Herods (Antiquities ). Survey of Background Materials

6 6 Positive Assessments of Women Positive Assessments of Women Philo can even have Leah typify the rational part of the soul (Preliminary Studies 26ff).Philo can even have Leah typify the rational part of the soul (Preliminary Studies 26ff). Rabbis – While a man was the ultimate authority in the home (m. Ker 6.9), a wife could retain some control over her own property (m. Ketub. 8-9) and if necessary precipitate a divorce (m. Ned ; m. Kettub ). Strikingly, only women are said to have a right to sexual pleasure (m. Ketub. 5.6; Ketub. 62a; b. Sanh. 75a).Rabbis – While a man was the ultimate authority in the home (m. Ker 6.9), a wife could retain some control over her own property (m. Ketub. 8-9) and if necessary precipitate a divorce (m. Ned ; m. Kettub ). Strikingly, only women are said to have a right to sexual pleasure (m. Ketub. 5.6; Ketub. 62a; b. Sanh. 75a). Survey of Background Materials

7 7 Positive Assessments of Women Positive Assessments of Women Against Rabbi Eliezer, other affirm teaching women Torah (m. Ned. 4.3; m. Sota 3.4) with some women actually being consulted on points of oral law (cf. b. Qidd. 70a-b).Against Rabbi Eliezer, other affirm teaching women Torah (m. Ned. 4.3; m. Sota 3.4) with some women actually being consulted on points of oral law (cf. b. Qidd. 70a-b). For nearly every negative view a positive counterpart of some kind can be found.For nearly every negative view a positive counterpart of some kind can be found. Survey of Background Materials

8 8 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Even our friend Ben Sirach may be using hyperbole to make his point.Even our friend Ben Sirach may be using hyperbole to make his point. PC was not an essential way of lifePC was not an essential way of life Larger Principle: That which brings the greatest good can also do the greatest harm (i.e., A good and wise woman brings joy but can also bring a man to devastation).Larger Principle: That which brings the greatest good can also do the greatest harm (i.e., A good and wise woman brings joy but can also bring a man to devastation). Summary of Background Materials

9 9 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading The frequency of complaints about strong-willed daughters and tiresome wives is prima facie evidence that informally at least male authority was not everywhere meekly accepted.The frequency of complaints about strong-willed daughters and tiresome wives is prima facie evidence that informally at least male authority was not everywhere meekly accepted. Summary of Background Materials

10 10 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Societies are rarely homogenous.Societies are rarely homogenous. Women are rarely offered education and apparently often married to men of somewhat older and more experienced than themselves.Women are rarely offered education and apparently often married to men of somewhat older and more experienced than themselves. Summary of Background Materials

11 11 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading 4 Observations:4 Observations: 1. Whatever else, this considerable diversity scuttles any notion of there being a Jewish view of women or that was intrinsically misogynist.1. Whatever else, this considerable diversity scuttles any notion of there being a Jewish view of women or that was intrinsically misogynist. 2. Undoubtedly this was a patriarchal society.2. Undoubtedly this was a patriarchal society. Woman is mostly discussed in relation to males as wife, daughters, or temptress; marriage, for the vast majority, was simply assumed.Woman is mostly discussed in relation to males as wife, daughters, or temptress; marriage, for the vast majority, was simply assumed. Summary of Background Materials

12 12 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading 3. We actually know very little about the day-to-day situation of women among the common people.3. We actually know very little about the day-to-day situation of women among the common people. 4. We have no way of knowing how representative this second century document is of pre-AD 70 sentiments and whether its various ideas represent a later reactionary conservatism.4. We have no way of knowing how representative this second century document is of pre-AD 70 sentiments and whether its various ideas represent a later reactionary conservatism. Summary of Background Materials

13 13 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Matthew reminds his readers that Davids line is no stranger to scandal. Whatever the exact reason it is clear that these women, even if of dubious origin or circumstance, are also part of Gods plan.Matthew reminds his readers that Davids line is no stranger to scandal. Whatever the exact reason it is clear that these women, even if of dubious origin or circumstance, are also part of Gods plan. Summary of Background Materials

14 14 Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Some of the more negative statements may bear a less offensive reading Intriguingly, in a setting where women were regarded at least by some (if not many) males as lascivious threats to holiness, Jesus in his teaching on lust directs his attention to the problems in men (Mt. 5:27-30).Intriguingly, in a setting where women were regarded at least by some (if not many) males as lascivious threats to holiness, Jesus in his teaching on lust directs his attention to the problems in men (Mt. 5:27-30). Summary of Background Materials


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