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Re: Ezra-Neh

Just a word on the topic of "tokenism". I think that Judith is right in 
raising the issue that the tradition itself has contributed to the 
oppression of women. It is important for women who have felt oppressed by 
their tradition to be able to point to those elements in the text. It is 
not a matter, really, of "judging" ancient authors. Whether the exclusive 
elements in the text are deliberate is perhaps not the issue. These texts 
have been used at times to justify the unequal treatment of women. The 
matter is a complex one, of course, and it is great that we can discuss 
these matters on the list. But, I am a woman who has experienced both the 
liberatory aspects of my tradition and its exclusiveness. I, too, have 
done research into the matter of attitudes toward women in scripture. My 
dissertation is investigating sexual practice and bodily purity in 
Leviticus. Judith is correct, I think, in perceiving elements within the 
text that reflect patriarchal attitudes toward women. Leviticus 18 is a 
case in point, a matter which is discussed quite competently in Judith's 
article for the Women's Bible Commentary ed. by Carol Newsom and Sharon 
Ringe. The text does appear to address male members of the community, and 
there is an overriding concern to protect a woman's reproductive purity. 
My own point of view is that there is a concern to protect patrilineal 
inheritance of the land. My argument can be found in my article for 
Robert L. Brawley's book, Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality: Listening to 
Scripture. The title of the article, for anyone who is interested, is 
"The Holiness Code and Human Sexuality." 
   At any rate, the issues are complex, but many women are aware of these 
elements in the text, and finding a comfortable, balanced place between 
respect for our traditions and respect for ourselves is not always easy.

-- Respectfully, 

    Sarah Melcher
    Emory University