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The Woman's Bible
Chapter I - Comments on Genesis i
by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
[Ed. Note: The Bible used in the preparation of The Woman's Bible is the 1888 edition of the Julie Smith translation of the Bible - a literal translation - one of FIVE translations by this brilliant woman. See the appendix for more information.]
THE BOOK OF GENESIS - CHAPTER I.
Genesis i; 26, 27, 28
26 And God said, Let us make man in our
image. after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of
the sea, and over the fowl of the air, andover the cattle, and over all
the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
(The following commentary was written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It will be followed by commentaries by Ellen Batelelle Dietrick and Lillie Devereux Blake. Members of the revising committee wrote on whatever portions they wished or felt they had authority.)
HERE is the sacred historian's first account of the advent of woman;
a simultaneous creation of both sexes, in the image of God. It is evident
from the language that there was consultation in the Godhead, and that
the masculine and feminine elements were equally represented. Scott in
his commentaries says, "this consultation of the Gods is the origin
of the doctrine of the trinity."
If language has any meaning, we have in these texts a plain declaration
of the existence of the feminine element in the Godhead, equal in power
and glory with the masculine. The Heavenly Mother and Father! "God
created man in his own image, male and female."
In the great work of creation the crowning glory was realized, when
man and woman were evolved on the sixth day, the masculine and feminine
forces in the image of God, that must have existed eternally, in all forms
of matter and mind.
Should it not in harmony with verse 26 be "they," a dual pronoun? We may attribute this to the same cause as the use of "his" in verse ii instead of "it." The fruit tree yielding fruit after " his" kind instead of after " its" kind. The paucity of a language may give rise to many misunderstandings.
The above texts plainly show the simultaneous creation of man and woman, and their equal importance in the development of the race. All those theories based on the assumption that man was prior in the creation, have no foundation in Scripture.
As to woman s subjection, on which both the canon and the civil law delight to dwell, it is important to note that equal dominion is given to woman over every living thing, but not one word is said giving man dominion over woman.
Here is the first title deed to this green earth giving alike to the sons and daughters of God. No lesson of woman's subjection can be fairly drawn from the first chapter of the Old Testament.
(A further comment by Ellen Batelelle Dietrick):
The most important thing for a woman to note, in reading Genesis, is
that that portion which is now divided into "the first three chapters"
(there was no such division until about five centuries ago), contains two
entirely separate, and very contradictory, stories of creation, written
by two different, but equally anonymous, authors.
About one hundred years ago, it was discovered by Dr. Astruc, of France,
that from Genesis ch. i, v. r to Genesis ch. ii, v. 4, is given one complete
account of cretion, by an author who always used the term "the gods"
(Eloitim), in speaking of the fashioning of the universe, mentioning it
altogether thirty-four times, while, in Genesis ch.ii, v. 4, to the end
of chapter iii, we have a totally different narrative, by an author of
uximistakably different style, who uses the term "Iahveh of the gods"
twenty times, but "Elohim" only three times.
Modern theologians have, for convenience sake, entitled these two fables,
respectively, the Elohistic and the lahoistic stories. They differ, not
only in the point I have mentioned above, but in the order of the "creative
acts" in regard to the mutual attitude of man and woman, and in regard
to human freedom from prohibitions imposed by deity.
Now as it is manifest that both of these stories cannot be true; intelligent
women, who feel bound to give the preference to either, may decide according
to their own judgment of which is more worthy of an intelligent woman's
(A further comment by Lillie Devereux Blake):
Many orientalists and students of theology have maintamed that the consultation
of the Gods here described is proof that the Hebrews were in early days
polytheists Scott s supposition that this is the origin of the Trinity
has no foundation in fact, as the beginning of that conception is to be
found in the earliest of all known religious nature worship.
In the detailed description of creation we find a gradually ascending series. Creepng things, "great sea monsters," (chap. I, v. 21, literal translation). "Every bird of wing," cattle and living things of the earth, the fish of the sea and tile "birds of the heavens," then man, and last and crowning glory of the whole, woman.
It cannot be maintained that woman was inferior to man even if, as asserted in chapter ii, she was created after him without at once admitting that man is inferior to the creeping things, because created after them.
-- L. D. B.
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