Studies in Bible and Feminist Criticism

By Tikva Frymer-Kensky | Go to book overview
Save to active project

13 / Sanctifying Torah


The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3 is not really a story about sin and punishment. If we read the story from a perspective that cherishes human culture and that values moral agency over submission, the story relates humanity's first step toward knowledge. But with knowledge comes loss of innocence, and without innocence there is no bliss of paradise.

We all undergo this primordial experience when we leave the bliss of infancy and begin our first steps toward individual existence. Whole cultures relive this experience as they discover that “the emperor has no clothes” or that a tulip is, after all, just a flower. They now are wiser, but they have lost the trust that let them imagine great value and beauty. As individuals and as societies, every advance in knowledge or maturity entails a loss of the innocent pleasures we enjoyed before. Women, of course, share in the common experiences of all humankind, but women also may experience a form of knowledge and loss peculiar to women of our culture. At some point, many of us begin to sense that our experiences as women do not quite harmonize with our religious traditions. Sometimes our experiences complement what we are being taught, and sometimes they absolutely contradict it. In either event, our experiences never have been incorporated into the teachings of our tradition.

With that first glimpse, our eyes were opened, and we saw that we were naked, for the tradition never provided clothes for us. For many of us, this destroyed forever our trust in the absolute wholeness and goodness of our religious traditions. This is the first moment of feminist consciousness. It is the end of our innocence, and we have left the Garden of Eden forever. We no longer can accept Scripture naively, uncritically, and submissively.

For some, this excursion into the real world has been a profoundly alienating experience; many women in our time have left Judaism (as


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Studies in Bible and Feminist Criticism
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 436

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?