The Role of Women in Judaism and Christianity

Essay by dhe0125University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

download word file, 2 pages 4.6

World religions shape not only social culture but also the view of women in society. An investigation of various cultures will reveal similarities and differences in the role women play in modern society. As religion has changed throughout the span of human life on earth so has the viewpoint of women in religion. When comparing Judaism to Christianity this transformation can be seen.

Traditional views of Jewish women took on a two fold meaning. While women were regarded in a secondary subservient manner, they were still glorified as wives and mothers, which was considered her primary role. Many Jewish traditions revolved around her role at the home. Childbirth, in particular males, was regarded as the greatest blessing for a husband and wife. However this could also prove to be a source of great sadness and outcast. In traditional Jewish society a barren woman was viewed to be cursed by God and this provided grounds for divorce.

Since her primary obligation was to her family a Jewish woman was generally unable to study or participate at the temple. Unlike other religions the traditional Jewish woman was not confined to her home. She was responsible for obtaining some of the household provisions. Often viewed as strong and industrious women were able to buy and sell at the marketplace, as well as engage in more recognizable tasks such as weaving, sewing and cooking.

Although exulted as a good wife and mother ancient Jewish women were viewed as second class to men. The most influential book in Jewish tradition, The Talmud contributed to this line of thinking. This book portrayed women as suspicious and conveyed many superstitions that encouraged the view that women are dangerous if allowed to be independent persons. As a result Jewish tradition viewed only married women as holy.

In contrast...