Monday, April 29, 2024

Time to Jettison the Marxist-Feminist Hermeneutic


The Hebrew cousin bride had the prerogative to name her firstborn son after her father.

Dr. Alice C. Linsley

Feminists read the biblical texts through a Marxist lens. They assume that men are responsible for the universal abuse and oppression of women. Thus, the biblical language for God as Father is rejected along with the biblical understanding of the Male-Female relationship.

It should be noted, however, that anthropologists have never found a single absolute patriarchy. Social structures are always more gender balanced than Feminists would have us believe.

Rather than thinking in Marxist-Feminist terms of domination and subjugation, the biblical worldview considers how the stronger stoops to save the weaker. The Almighty sends angels to deliver his people from dangers. The High God provides a ram on Mount Moriah, a sign to Abraham the Hebrew, that the promised Son would appear as a sacrifice in the future. He sends male and female prophets to speak truth to the people.

The false interpretations of Scripture that arose to support ideological and political aspirations in the Twentieth Century are no longer sustainable. Feminists asserted that the women of the Bible were abused and oppressed in their patriarchal society. However, anthropological analysis of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew reveals that this claim is without substance. The social structure of the biblical Hebrew was not patriarchal, and the biblical narratives reflect a balance of authority between the men and women.

The typical Feminist narrative runs like this: "Israel was a patriarchal society. Legal codes conceive of men as the sole legal actors. Women are regarded as men's possessions on a par with oxen, asses, and slaves. Women are sexually abused and valued mainly for the reproduction of offspring. Even the sign of the covenant is an expression is male circumcision."

The Marxist-Feminist critique of the early Hebrew is unsubstantiated by anthropological studies. A detailed study of the Hebrew social structure makes it clear that women were not dominated by males. The authority of Hebrew queen mothers was especially strong and is evident in the reverent way that Solomon treated his mother Bathsheba. 

Legal codes provided for women, especially widows. Women were able to inherit property and temple women were independently wealthy. 

Circumcision was a custom among priests and women were not priests. Hebrew women served as clan chiefs, prophets, and queens, and played a significant role as the mothers, wives, and daughters of high-ranking rulers and priests.

Deborah and the moreh (seer/prophet) who Abraham consulted exemplify the balance of authority among the biblical Hebrew. The male moreh at Mamre sat under a firm and erect oak, representing the masculine principle. Deborah sat under a date nut palm (tamar), representing the feminine principle.

Both males and females are used by God as instruments of deliverance, such as Daniel in Babylon and Esther in Persia.

There are many examples of gender balance in the Bible: the distinct duties of the mother's house versus the father's house; male prophets-female prophets; male rulers-female rulers; inheritance by male heirs-inheritance by female heirs, patrilocal residence-matrilocal residence; Hebrew patronymics-Hebrew matronymics; and in the Hebrew double unilineal descent pattern, both the patrilineage and the matrilineage are recognized and honored, but in different ways.

The blood symbolism of the Passover associated with Moses has a parallel in the blood symbolism of the scarlet cord associated with Rahab. Consider the two occasions when death passed over. Moses' people were saved when they put the blood of the lamb on the doors. Rahab's household was saved when she hung a scarlet cord from her window.

The abusive behavior of drunken Noah toward his sons has a parallel in the abusive behavior of drunken Lot toward his daughters (Gen. 19). Noah curses his son and/or grandson. Lot impregnates his daughters.

There is binary balance in the New Testament narratives also. At the presentation of Jesus in the Temple His identity as Messiah is affirmed by the priest Simeon and by the prophetess Anna. Jesus restored the widow of Nain's deceased son to his mother (Lk. 7:11-17). Jesus restored Jairus' deceased daughter to her father (Mk. 5:21-43).

Misappropriation of Scripture to bolster the Marxist and Feminist agendas is exposed when we consider the enormous contributions of biblical kings and queens, royal priests and their wives, temple-dedicated women, and male and female clan chiefs to the advancement of early civilizations. They developed river commerce, built ships, huge stone monuments, and traded across vast ranges. They enacted law codes that protected vulnerable subjects, preserved territorial boundaries, governed the treatment of slaves, and issued edicts of debt release. In the Hebrew system of cognatic descent, Hebrew mothers were acknowledged as ancestors. They exercised considerable influence within their social circles, and they could inherit property.

Feminists assert that women of the Bible were subject to abuse and oppression because of patriarchy. However, anthropological analysis of the social structure of the biblical Hebrew reveals that this ideological claim is without substance. In reality, the biblical narratives express a remarkable gender balance among the Hebrew that can be traced from at least 4000 B.C. through the time of Jesus of Nazareth.

Women who hope to achieve recognition and be treated with respect would do well to study the gender balanced society of the biblical Hebrew.  

Related: Reading the Bible in a Different Way; INDEX of Topics at Just Genesis; INDEX of Topics at Biblical Anthropology; The Parting of Ways: Calvin Robinson's Case

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