It’s the first of August in Minnesota »« Above the law

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  1. magistramarla says

    Hmmmm Could this mean that women have always been more intelligent, logical and pragmatic than men?
    No, that would really be misandry.
    Bwahahahah!

  2. says

    While it most likely is the case that no woman wrote any of the Bible, the fact is no one knows who the authors and editors were who wrote most of it.

  3. bigdyterminator says

    Probably more duets the fact that the folks who did write it wanted women silent. Best way to do that is to keep women illiterate.

  4. Maureen Brian says

    It ain’t necessarily so, PZ!

    I have a book which makes the case for whole chunks of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers being edited and (re)written by a female scribe known as J. I don’t know whether there’s anything in that theory but perhaps Owlmirror does. Here’s the link – http://www.amazon.com/The-Book-J-Harold-Bloom/dp/0802141919

    Oh, damn! Now that will upset a whole different set of people.

  5. Sastra says

    Ah, I can’t remember which popular Biblical scholar(Bart Ehrman?) proposed that the author of one of the histories of the disciples (John?) was a woman — but I read a book which did indeed propose such a thing, backing it up of course with evidence from the text. Probably speculative and dicey, but it’s out there.

  6. aelfric says

    To follow up on rturpin, though a decided atheist, I am also a bible nerd (don’t ask). And I thought I should point out that the J-source of the pentateuch (one of the threads woven together to create the first five books of the bible) is sometimes thought to have been a woman. Not to mess up a good quote.

  7. says

    Randel McCraw Helms argues in Who Wrote the Gospels? that the author of Luke was a woman. His thesis has not carried the day among his colleagues, but he did put it out there.

  8. says

    Can’t speak for or against the J-source; but I think pretty good candidates for a woman’s authorship would be several of the poems in the Song of Songs, as they’re narrated from a woman’s point of view.

  9. Sastra says

    @Zeno #8:

    Yes, thanks, that was it. I read Helms’ Who Wrote the Gospels many moons ago.

  10. raven says

    People make the case that Luke might have been written by a woman.

    It wasn’t written by Luke which is just a name assigned to it long after the fact.

    It is claimed to be the most woman friendly of the gospels.

  11. nrdo says

    If you look at other periods during which women were formally suppressed in a particular field, there have often been a few who broke the mold and participated under pseudonyms. Also, though I’m not a historian, I believe that the prevailing theory is that the Old Testament was written several centuries after the primitive goat-herding days it purports to describe, a point at which the Israelites were literacy was (relatively) more widespread.

  12. nrdo says

    *a point at which literacy was more widespread among the Israelites. [apologies for the word salad]

  13. robro says

    Interesting assertion…how do we know that? Certainly no woman’s name is ascribed as author of any of the books, but we really don’t know who any of the authors were and we know even less about the provenience of the sources the books were derived from.

    Of course, it’s a reasonable assumption that few women would have been able to write, even very few men could write until modern times, but some women did learn and were in the position to do so.

    One writer I read in the last few years made a case that the author of Luke may have been a woman. His case isn’t strong, as he admitted, but he suggests that because men (including physicians) in that era had nothing to do with child birth, no man would know about “the quickening” that Mary experiences. I think that it was Randel Helms in Who Wrote the Gospels and he may have found other textual reasons to suspect a woman behind the story.

    As for the “[not] even on line” claim, it’s possible that some of the snippets of stories incorporated into some of the books could have been derived from women’s stories. After all, women are story tellers, too, and many societies have traditions of women’s stories alongside the men’s stories.

  14. robro says

    nrdo

    *a point at which literacy was more widespread among the Israelites. [apologies for the word salad]

    Who are these Israelites you refer to? Niels Lempche implies that evidence of writing is so rare in Palestine until very late in the Hellenistic period that it might be a mistake to speak of “literate Israelites,” if you mean whatever people lived in the brief little principality referred to as Israel or the House of Omri in Moabite, Egyptian, and Assyrian texts.

    Thomas Thompson makes the point that the Assyrians were the first big promoters of literacy in the ancient world. Indeed, their libraries are a treasure trove of ancient stories…the source for the Epic of Gilgamesh no less…as well as a lot of mundane record keeping. The first writers were apparently CPAs after all.

  15. Argle Bargle says

    I was under the impression that a good bit of the Torah was written during the Babylonian Capitivity about 2500 years ago.

  16. anchor says

    “the fact is no one knows who the authors and editors were who wrote most of it.”

    I’ll bet anything you like that humans wrote the whole of it.

  17. postman says

    I came here expecting hard chairs and I get a stupid quote. That’s the real misandry!! (My PC doesn’t recognize misandry as a real thing. Another horrible discrimination.)

    @14: Not a terribly high bar I would think.

  18. crocodoc says

    Nice punchline. But, since when do we know any of the authors? And from an economic point of view, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to have the book written by women? They are half the price.

  19. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    If there is any part of the Babble that I’d accept without qualms as being written by a woman (or perhaps being a male scribe writing town a woman’s oral history), it is the book of Ruth. Partly for tone reasons, though of course that could be the translation.

  20. Jeffrey L. Whitledge says

    “…even one line…” I am not sure where this comes from. Although none of the authorship is certain, there are many parts of the Bible that are ascribed to women. There are the songs of Miriam and Deborah, for example. Even before textual criticism began analyzing the texts, the notion that each book was written by a single author was never an opinion of informed Biblical scholars.

    Sure its possible that the things ascribed to women were not actually written by women, but neither informed believers or informed unbelievers could assert with confidence that none of it was.

  21. unclefrogy says

    while it may be interesting who wrote the bible in whole or in part
    it is still mythological no different than any other mythology. The bible may have retained some of its historical connections most of the others have lost any historical connection they may once have had.. that does in no way alter the fact that they are all fiction

    uncle frogy

  22. Jeffrey L. Whitledge says

    Regarding scientists writing the Bible:

    Yeah, they didn’t. But the apocryphal additions to the book of Daniel do contain an excellent skeptical investigation. Those Catholics who believe in bleeding statues would do well to read their book.

  23. says

    A person of authority didn’t have to be literate, only to dictate to a literate scribe.

    The Old Testament was written by people who rose to ascendancy in their region and invented a history of conquest to justify their possession of the land.

  24. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Fun fact: the book of Ruth is the only non-goddist book of the Babble.

    I know lots of Babble trivia. Once upon a time I was an elder of the Presbyterian Church. Ordained and everything!

    Then I grew up and got over that.

  25. CJO says

    Fun fact: the book of Ruth is the only non-goddist book of the Babble.

    You’re thinking of Esther. The Song of Songs also does not mention any name of God, but Esther stands out among the narrative texts as the only one with no apparent interest in relating any actions or words of God.

  26. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Whups, you’re right there.

    However, I’d peg Ruth’s “your god is my god” speech as being less “yay god he’s awesome” and more “Naomi, you’re super important to me.”

    YMMV.

  27. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Song of Songs is also low-grade smut. I really love reading apologetics about it that cast it as “really” about the relationship of Jebus and the church.

    So…Jebus wants to bone the church? NIFTY.

  28. A. R says

    Given the span of time the Babble and some individual books were written over, and the number of times the Babble was copied, transcribed, and translated, I’m not willing to say that anyone did or did not write even a single word or the Babble. The fucking thing is too old.

  29. nrdo says

    @ robro Perhaps Israelites is a misnomer, I was referring to the people who lived in Palestine post-exile; later than 500BCE. Obviously though, people at that time probably didn’t invent the stories out of whole-cloth. They presumably had oral stories from Babylonia and “ancient” Israel that they drew on for source material.

  30. Usernames are smart says

    Maybe a technicality, but the fragments of Genesis 12:11-20 and 20:1-13 (where Abram/Abraham has a brain fart and suddenly tries to pass his wife off as his sister, who the Pharaoh then sleeps with) possibly allude to an earlier belief where a King gained his power from sleeping with a High Priestess/Shaman.

    Remember that before Judaism, there were several quite strong matriarchal religions, which is where we get the Venus of Willendorf, etc.

  31. jagwired says

    This post is complete crap! I’m no expert, but I do like to dabble in Old Testament Bible history. I think there’s plenty of evidence to suggest a great many of the books in the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox Old Testament are attributable to one or more female authors. (I’m leaning towards one.) Here’s a list of some of the more obvious books:

    Judith
    Kings 1st (maybe 2nd)
    Ruth
    Obadiah
    Wisdom
    Lamentations
    Isaiah
    Nahum
    Genesis (some portions)

    If you look at these books close enough, I think you’ll see a certain magical style in each that suggest only one female author.

  32. says

    Sorry to pile on, but speaking as an atheist, this post is just embarrassing. You’re passing off a statement as fact while you have no real evidence whether it’s true or not. Isn’t that the kind of thing you would hold against a Christian?
    And you call yourself a scientist!

    -Lance Link

  33. playonwords says

    FFS could the literalists please take a step back and enjoy the joke as a joke!

    Given that much of what we read started as oral tradition, was copied by many hands, edited, compiled, rewritten, copied again into different languages, got input from other oral traditions, censored for the benefit of kings, edited again, worked over and all that before the Christians got hold of it – we cannot possibly talk of male and female voices.

  34. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I don’t know about the Bibble, but my great-uncle Tom wrote “Here I sit, broken hearted / Paid a dime, but only farted.”

  35. anuran says

    We don’t know who wrote the Torah, the Gospels or most of the writings attributed to Paul. Don’t know if they were male, female, mutant, hermaphrodite or space-alien. But if we grant there’s a chance that whoever wrote various books had some connection with the named author there’s always the Gospel of Mary Magdala

  36. Boris Veytsman says

    PZ, I was taught that the oldest lines in the Bible are in the Deborah’s hymn, and were written by Deborah – obviously a woman.

  37. jagwired says

    FFS could the literalists please take a step back and enjoy the joke as a joke!

    Given that much of what we read started as oral tradition, was copied by many hands, edited, compiled, rewritten, copied again into different languages, got input from other oral traditions, censored for the benefit of kings, edited again, worked over and all that before the Christians got hold of it – we cannot possibly talk of male and female voices.

    If some of this is directed at me, I’d like to point out that I was joking back at the joke. Maybe I was a little too obscure.