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Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Contextby Carol Meyers
Synopses & Reviews
Traditionally, many feminist scholars have looked to the Bible for clues to the sources of contemporary sexist attitudes; yet, the "biblical position" of women has been discussed only in light of the scriptural texts themselves. In an illuminating and critical analysis, Meyers argues that it is impossible to reconstruct a picture of the typical everyday life of women in ancient Israel using biblical sources alone. Scriptural texts, she contends, were written by a mostly male, urban elite, while women of the period were mostly rural villagers. In addition, the stories of women in the Bible generally concern exceptional, not ordinary, women. For these reasons, Meyers approaches the problem in a new way, complementing biblical source material with the results of recent archaeological investigations of village life and the insights of anthropology. This interdisciplinary approach enables her to present, for the first time, a picture of the way of life and status of women in biblical times based on hard data.
The everyday life of women in ancient Israel cannot be reconstructed from Biblical sources alone. This study uses archaeological and anthropological research to form a picture of women's status and way of life at this time.
This groundbreaking study looks beyond biblical texts, which have had a powerful influence over our views of women's roles and worth, in order to reconstruct the typical everyday lives of women in ancient Israel. Meyers argues that biblical sources alone do not give a true picture of ancient Israelite women because urban elite males wrote the vast majority of the scriptural texts and the stories of women in the Bible concern exceptional individuals rather than ordinary Israelite women. Analyzing the biblical material in light of recent archaeological discoveries about rural village life in ancient Palestine, Meyers depicts Israelite women not as submissive chattel in an oppressive patriarchy, but rather as strong and significant actors within their families and society.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 211-227) and indexes.
About the Author
Carol Meyers is Professor of Religion at Duke University.
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