While it is quite clear that Proverbs is a gendered text, the way it speaks of women is interesting. For a text coming from an ancient patriarchal society human women who serve as aspirational models are a surprise.
No doubt any real Feminist would instantly switch into “pedestal” mode, but I think it’s worth pausing and noticing what’s going on, and maybe as I’ll suggest in a follow-up podcast finding inspiration for contemporary spiritualities…
Here is the audio: Proverbs as a gendered text
I think that there are two standout sections in Proverbs from the perspective of the roles of women. One is the role of Lady Wisdom as the expert worker at the creation of the earth and the other is the role of the “excellent wife” in the final chapter. The former is particularly interesting from the Christian feminist perspective when you look also at the prologue to John’s gospel where the Word is the one who has the role of bringing the earth into being. The latter has some surprising roles for the wife – out in the market place and managing the land – when wives in general were normally only active in the home.
Audio again, eh? Proverbs does something that Paul reverses. In Proverbs, Wisdom is a woman. Whether she’s supposed to be understood as a Female Heavenly-Being, or as personification–still a woman. A woman who is TEACHING. But Paul says its a shame for a woman to teach. You have to give Proverbs props here. And you have to wonder what the hell Paul was thinking contradicting the Old Testament this badly–well, that’s actually all he ever does, isn’t it?
Thanks for the interesting comment, it’s worth a serious response, so I’ll try to do a podcast on this soon 🙂