According to a prevailing theory of biblical scholarship called the documentary hypothesis, the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) was written at different times by several different authors and was later combined into a single narrative. To identify the sources, Bible scholars use the letters J, E, P and D for Yahwist (or Jehovist), Elohist, Priestly and Deuteronomistic, respectively. (See “The Documentary Hypothesis in Trouble,” BR 01:04, and “A New Challenge to the Documentary Hypothesis,” BR 01:04.)


Eisegesis refers to the practice of reading into a text what is not actually there. It stands in contrast to the practice of exegesis, the critical interpretation that reads meaning out of the text itself, the practice used by Bible scholars.


For another powerful critique of the traditional translation of ‘ezer ke-negdo, see R. David Freedman, “Woman, A Power Equal To Man,” BAR 09:01. Freedman argues that the phrase should be translated “a power equal to man.”



Bernard Prusak traces the development of the interpretation of Genesis 2–3 and other biblical texts in the Pseudepigraphical literature in his article “Women: Seductive Siren and Source of Sin?” in Religion and Sexism, ed. Rosemary Ruether (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1974), pp. 89–116.


Quoted from The Anti-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), p.14. On the Apparel of Women, Book 1, chapter 1.


Quoted from Saint Ambrose: Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, trans. J.J. Savage (New York: Fathers of the Church Inc., 1961), p. 301. Ambrose: 374, On Paradise, 4, 24; 10, 47.


Summa Theologica, Part 1, Question 92, article 1.


See Hugh Trevor-Roper, “Witches and Witchcraft,” (1 and 2) Encounter 28 (1967); Rosemary Ruether, “The Persecution of Witches,” Christianity and Crisis 34 (1974); “The Malleus Maleficarum: The Woman as Witch,” in Women and Religion, eds. E. Clark and H. Richardson (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), ch. 10.


J. A. Phillips’s important and useful book, Eve: The History of an Idea (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984) traces the development of Eve’s image through history.


See Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, “Every Two Minutes: Battered Women and Feminist Interpretation,” in Feminist Interpretations of the Bible, ed. Letty M. Russell (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1985).


The Woman’s Bible, (Seattle, WA: Coalition Task Force on Women and Religion, 1974), pp. 24, 26.


Phyllis Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR) 12 (1973), pp. 39–42; “Eve and Adam: Genesis 2–3 Reread,” Andover Newton Quarterly 13 (1973), pp. 251–258, reprinted in Womanspirit Rising, eds. C. Christ and J. Plaskow (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1979), pp. 74–83; “A Love Story Gone Awry,” in God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1978), pp. 72–143.


J. Higgins, “The Myth of Eve: Temptress,” JAAR 44 (1976), pp. 639–647.


The terminology “reformist” and “revolutionaries” is found in C. Christ’s review article, “The New Feminist Theology: A Review of the Literature,” Religious Studies Review 3 (1977), pl. 203 In Phillip’s s study, the term “liberal” most closely corresponds to “reformist.” See p. 174.


Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza has made major contributions to this project in her two books, In Memory of Her (New York, NY: Crossroads, 1983) and Bread Not Stone (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1984).


See the articles in Letty Russell’s Feminist Interpretations of the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1985).


Harvard Semitic Monographs, 32 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press).


Journal of Biblical Literature 96 (1977), pp. 161–177.


See Terence Hawkes, Structuralism and Semiotics (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1977), p. 17; Robert Scholes, Structuralism in Literature: An Introduction (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1974), p. 4; David Jobling, “Structuralism, Hermeneutics and Exegesis,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 34 (1974), p. 139


“Levi-Strauss in the Garden of Eden: An Examination of Some Recent Developments in the Analysis of Myth,” Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, series 11, vol 23/4 (1961), pp. 386–96. A revised version has been reprinted in Genesis as Myth and Other Essays (Suffolk, England: Richard Clay, 1971), pp. 7–23.


“Myth and its Limits in Genesis 2:4b–3:24, ” in The Sense of Biblical Narrative: Structural Analyses in the Hebrew Bible 2 (Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1986), pp. 17–43.


“The Myth Semantics of Genesis 2:4b–3:24, ” Semeia 18 (1980), p. 48.


(Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984).


Conrad L’Heureux, In and Out of Paradise (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1983), pp. 76–79.