Is patriarchy a sin?

Phyllis Trible’s argument

Many feminists read Genesis 2–3 to reject it; Phyllis Trible argues that “we reread to
understand and appropriate” (74). Trible doesn’t have a problem with rejecting biblical
texts that are oppressive (e.g., story of Lot in Sodom), but this story should not be


1. The order of the creation of man and woman:
a. ’adham is ambiguous: until Gen 2:21–23, this is basically an androgynous

creature (74)
b. Sexuality occurs simultaneously for woman and man, and gender exists as

a relational term, not an absolute term (76)
c. The creation of woman is a climax in the Yahwist account (75)

2. The meaning of the woman as the man’s “helper” or “partner” (’ezer)
a. This is understood as a relationship based on equality (notice that the man

doesn’t “name” the woman,” as he does other creatures, until after sin
has taken place)

b. Yahweh alone creates both the man and the woman, and does so out of
raw materials (dust for man, a rib for woman) (76)

c. Male and female sexes emerge simultaneously, and as equals (76; Gen

3. Man and woman are fundamentally equal, yet the serpent speaks only with the
woman, making the woman the active, aware, and interpreting subject (79)

a. The woman interprets and struggles with the command to not eat of the
tree of good and evil; the man is a passive recipient, guided by his belly

b. This is an obviously subversive claim in a patriarchal culture

4. Yahweh asks for an explanation
a. Yahweh speaks first to the man, who blames Yahweh for his disobedience

(79–80; Gen 3:12)
i. If the author wanted to make the woman a seductive temptress, now

would’ve been the time (80)
b. Yahweh then asks the woman, who says that the serpent

deceived/seduced her (3:13)
c. God accepts the woman’s explanation, and curses the serpent (3:14)

5. “Curses” are etiological: they show the distance between the goodness of God’s
creation and the human experience of life: “they describe; they do not
prescribe” (80)

a. These statements describe a cultural condition of the 10th century BCE

b. Condemns male supremacy: this is a perversion of creation, which distorts
both the man and the woman (80)

c. Within this distortion, “the man calls his wife’s name Eve” (Gen 3:20), and
thereby rules over her

6. Conclusion: Genesis 2–3 is an etiology of subordination

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