6 April 2014
In the history of monotheistic religions, we see that no matter how much freedom women are given, there always comes a trend toward restricting women to roles of caretakers of the home, and producers of male offspring. This seems to be a common trend that occurs in patriarchal societies no matter where they occur in the world, or what individual shape these monotheistic religions take. To further examine this idea, we look at the roles of women in the Abrahamic traditions up to 1000 C.E.
The first tradition that we examine is Judaism and the development of women’s roles in this faith. Throughout the history of the faith ...view middle of the document...
While attempts have been made to define the ideal woman, there are also accounts of women who have helped in the development of the Jewish faith in many different ways. While the role of the mother and wife in the Jewish tradition was of the highest importance, women were not restricted to being simple caretakers of the home. In fact, the traditional Jewish wife is expected to be “industrious in obtaining provisions for the home, strong and capable, and involved in buying and selling in the marketplace in addition to more generally recognized vocations for a wife, such as weaving, sewing, and providing food for the family” (pg. 276). In effect a woman was expected to be her husband’s equal in the fulfillment of her role as a wife.
The second faith that we analyze, Christianity, originally saw an increased role of women that were later diminished. In the beginning of the “Jesus movement” women were offered a much broader participation than what they had seen in the Greek and Roman society of the time. (pg. 343) The New Testament contained many references to women, who at this time, were relegated to being simple caretakers of the home. Various women are prominent figures in the stories of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and His mother Mary as well are two of the most famous examples. Jesus also used a woman as a metaphor for God in one of his parables, and women played an important role in the resurrection of Jesus. Women are also mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible as equal participants in the study of the teachings of Jesus when they had previously been excluded in the study of religion. Women are also mentioned as being in positions of leadership in this “newly emerging movement”, who were apostles “who were respected members of this early community”. (pg. 343) While there have been positive images of women in Christianity, there is also a darker side as well. The New Testament has passages that say, in effect, that women should be subordinate to men. One example is First Corinthians 14:34 where the author “admonishes women to be silent in church and remain subordinate to their husbands”. (pg. 344) Even though Christianity contains some negative perspectives of women, it is still a religion that is “expressly open to everyone, including women”. (pg. 344). An example of this is Galatians 3:28, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”. While the same patriarchal hierarchy as Judaism and Islam exists in the Christian faith, women are allowed to “pray and prophesy in the church”, undermining the view of First Corinthians were women were expected to remain silent. (pg. 344) Around the fourth century, after the church had become an institution that was validated by the Roman Empire, women’s roles became just as limited as they were in other religions. Now women were relegated to being mere caretakers of the home, as proper wives to submit to...