Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Thomas Longstaff

Second Advisor

Jane Moss

Third Advisor

Dianne Sadoff


Important in understanding the significance of the Hebrew Bible is the knowledge of how societal and cultural realities affected the ways in which the Hebrew Bible was interpreted. The thesis begins with an examination of the societal and cultural conditions which led to interpretations portraying male supremacy. It theorizes that derogatory images of women, stereotyping them as evil, corrupt, and inferior to men, were in fact due to the masculine biases present in biblical texts as a result of societal and cultural tendencies and were not the intent of the original texts themselves. In fact, patriarchal interpretations of biblical narratives are not accurate because they fail to respect the integrity of the texts themselves. Next comes a detailed analysis of the second creation narrative and God's oracle to woman in Genesis 3 in order to substantiate these preceding theories. The narratives are examined in their original Hebrew form in order to discover meanings and nuances which have been lost through translation and to provide alternative interpretations of the narratives avoiding masculine influences. Several fragments of Jewish mystical tradition which are related to the creation narratives are also investigated. Again, contextual realities during the time in which the tales were written are studied in order to gain an understanding of them unaffected by societal or cultural biases. Finally, the question of the ordination of female rabbis is examined. The arguments supporting the restriction of women from the rabbinate are questioned and both the theological and substantiate evidence disputing these arguments explored. Concluding reflections challenge Judaism to undo the biases of masculine interpretations and to not allow patriarchy to hide behind biblical faith in a modem society which covets equality.


Bible Genesis, Criticism interpretation, Patriarchy, Religious aspects, Women in Judaism, male supremacy, female ordination.