Thursday, July 10, 2008

Women in the Bible

A 1996 study by Sr. Ruth Fox analyzed passages chosen for the lectionary, the book of biblical readings used in liturgical celebrations.
She found that passages in the Bible about women performing significant deeds have been omitted or relegated to weekdays instead of Sundays or “neatly sliced out of the middle of the lectionary passage.” The pattern of exclusion could not have been accidental. It was deliberate, and it reinforces the message promulgated by Church officials: Women are subordinate to men in regard to sacred matters.

Fox cites examples in the scriptures known to most Christians as Old and New Testaments. Some omissions are almost laughable because the reading stops just at the point when women are depicted as dignified messengers from God to humanity. And sometimes, writes Fox, “Passages containing positive references to [women] are left out while those containing negative references are retained.”

Women are doing something about this. For information about a campaign to “put women back in the biblical picture,” go to .

I’m glad women are prodding the Church toward gender justice, but I expect more rapid progress in the secular sphere. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, for instance, changed perceptions about women as leaders. I noticed during a discussion on NPR about federal policies that speakers referred to a hypothetical president as “he or she.”

It’s all about perception. Deletion of passages about women leaders from proclamations of the Word in church reinforces the exclusion of women from decision making in the Church.

But life is not static. Religions, like species, thrive or die, depending on their ability to adapt to changes. My hopes rest on evolving attitudes toward woman power.

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