When Harold Bloom suggested, in The Book of J, that the oldest component of the Hebrew Bible was written by a woman--an aristocratic woman at King David's court, possibly even Bathsheba herself--he might not have been offering a testable scholarly hypothesis. But he was correctly drawing attention to the extraordinarily prominent and positive role of women in the Jewish scriptures. God may have made his promises to the patriarchs, but very often it is the matriarchs who carry out his plans. Think of Rebecca securing Isaac's blessing for Jacob; or Tamar disguising herself to earn her due from Judah; or Deborah leading the Israelites into battle against Sisera; or Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes.Christianity, too, keeps women down. It's our greatest scandal.
It is a paradox of Judaism, then, that a religion that honors such independent and active women should have evolved a code of law that sharply restricts women's independence and activity.
Monday, February 2, 2009
As Women Reclaim The Bible