The Woman's Bible Essay - Critical Essays

Elizabeth Cady


Stanton’s own comments on the first chapter of Genesis provide an example of her radical understanding of the Scripture. Noting that in this Creation story there is divine consultation, and therefore seemingly a plurality of divine beings, and that the man and woman were both created in the image of God, Stanton concurs with other scholars that the Trinity is represented here. Rather than three male beings, however, it is more logically made up of divine Father, Mother, and Son. She then suggests that women’s lot in life would be improved if prayers were offered to the Heavenly Mother as well as to the Heavenly Father.

The next author introduces the reader to what at the time was the height of scholarly biblical criticism: the division of the Pentateuch into several original sources that were later put together by an editor. Although her understanding of biblical sources is naïve, antiquated, and overly simplistic by modern standards, Ellen Batelle Dietrick’s explanation that Genesis holds two separate stories of the Creation is accepted biblical scholarship today.

Finally for this passage, Lillie Devereux Blake presents another bit of logic by pointing out that one cannot assert that woman’s creation after man in the second story signifies her inferiority without at the same time admitting that man is inferior to creeping things, since he was created after them in the first story.

Later in Genesis, Stanton finds one verse (36:18) on which to comment, and one sees here not only the kinds of insights that she had and questions that she raised but also an explanation of her approach to the biblical text. The verse simply names the three sons of Esau’s wife Aholibamah. Stanton’s first thought is to wonder who this...

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