"All the books of the bible were written by men--see, God de-values women again"
[Note: This is a simple summary of the detailed data in the syllabus. Refer there for sources/discussion. Updated: 01/02/97]
This issue is a bit complex, because it is not AT ALL clear that AUTHORSHIP of something is of higher "status" than being the SUBJECT or CHARACTER in the something.
For example, consider the Book of Esther. Esther is obviously a main character and the main hero in the book. On the other hand, the author of the book is unknown. So, is it more "prestigious" to be the unknown author or the role-model hero? I submit that it is the latter.
I don't see this objection often, but let's look at some issues embedded in it anyway...
It would seem that the patterns of female "honoring" that show up throughout scripture would indicate EITHER (1) a high valuation of women--regardless of authorship profiles; OR (2) a role of women in shaping some of the final products...Both of these possibilities are real, with #1 being almost certain from the literary data.
- It is somewhat difficult to assign "authorship" to much of the OT literature.
Take for example the book of Ruth. Here is a story from the period of the Judges that probably was passed down orally for decades before being recorded under King David's reign. Someone probably fashioned the story (it is incredible literature) very, very early---oral transmission rarely changed any of the story; the transmission process was so good. But eventually, someone wrote it down and appended the genealogy of David onto it.
So, who was the author? The original storyteller-singer (probably a woman)? The court historian who added a genealogy? A scribe who redacted it into its final form?
- Most of the OT literature is anonymous--we simply don't know who wrote it. Many of the historical books, of course, were probably written by scribes in the time of Ezra/Nehemiah, but since some of those who returned to the Land were of a family of female scribes ("Hassophereth" in Ezra 2.55 means "female scribe"--there was apparently a group that was descended from a female scribe), it is at least theoretically possible that females were involved in the "final assembly" of the OT literature.
And, since scribes also recorded at least ONE prophet's messages (Baruch and Jeremiah), it is likewise possible that scribes (even female ones) recorded some of the other prophet's messages.
- Most of the OT literature quotes women extensively anyway--who is the 'author' of those quotes? The prayers of Hannah and Mary, the Songs of Miriam and Deborah, the Proverbs of the Queen-Mother of King Lemuel, the prophesies of Huldah and Anna--who are the "authors" of those?
- We have strong indications that women wrote pseudepigraphically in the Intertestamental period and NT time frames (cf. WS:WLT:222ff). When coupled with the 'female scribe' designation in Ezra/Neh, the probability that women had SOME part in the final assembly of OT works goes up.
- We even have one piece of mid-4th century data that argues that Mary wrote the Gospel of Luke (See syllabus for discussion).
- God tends to value the characters in the literature--the prophets, the players, the patrons, the people--NOT THE AUTHOR of the final edition of the history! The PORTRAYAL and ROLES of women in the documents is much more critical to valuation than who WROTE those texts. (I think the objection is simply misplaced.)
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christianthinktank.com]