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Women in the Bible
Compared to the number of men, few women are mentioned in the Bible by name. The exact number of named and unnamed women in the Bible is somewhat uncertain because of a number of difficulties involved in calculating the total. For example, the Bible sometimes uses different names for the same woman, names in different languages can be translated differently, and some names can be used for either men or women. Professor Karla Bombach says one study produced a total of 3000-3100 names, 2900 of which are men with 170 of the total being women. However, the possibility of duplication produced the recalculation of a total of 1700 distinct personal names in the Bible with 137 of them being women. In yet another study of the Hebrew Bible only, there were a total of 1426 names with 1315 belonging to men and 111 to women. Seventy percent of the named and unnamed women in the Bible come from the Hebrew Bible.:33,34 "Despite the disparities among these different calculations, ... [it remains true that] women or women's names represent between 5.5 and 8 percent of the total [names in the Bible], a stunning reflection of the androcentric character of the Bible.":34 A study of women whose spoken words are recorded found 93, of which 49 women are named.
All Ancient Near Eastern societies were patriarchal, and the Bible is a patriarchal document, written by men from a patriarchal age. Many scholars see the primary emphasis of the Bible as reinforcing women's subordinate status. However, there are also scholars who claim there is a kind of gender blindness in the Bible as well as patriarchy. Marital laws in the Bible favored men, as did inheritance laws. There were strict laws of sexual behavior with adultery a crime punishable by stoning. A woman in ancient biblical times was always under the authority of a man and was subject to strict purity laws, both ritual and moral. However, women such as Deborah, the Shunnemite woman, and the prophetess Huldah, rise above societal limitations in their stories. The Bible contains many noted narratives of women as both victors and victims, women who change the course of events, and women who are powerless and unable to affect their own destinies.
In all three synoptic gospels, Mark, Matthew and Luke, Mary and Jesus' brothers are disowned by Jesus. The Matthew version has it as "Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."  In Luke the repudiation is even stronger, there Jesus says his disciples have to hate their mothers. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
There are hundreds of examples of women from the Bible as characters in painting, sculpture, opera and film. Historically, artistic renderings tend to reflect the changing views on women from within society more than the biblical account that mentions them.
Eve is a common subject. Art historian Mati Meyer says society's views of women are observable in the differing renderings of Eve in art over the centuries. Meyer explains: "Genesis 2–3 recounts the creation of man and the origins of evil and death; Eve, the temptress who disobeys God’s commandment, is probably the most widely discussed and portrayed figure in art." According to Mati Meyer, Eve is historically portrayed in a favorable light up through the Early Middle Ages (AD 800's), but by the Late Middle Ages (1400s) artistic interpretation of Eve becomes heavily misogynistic. Meyer sees this change as influenced by the writings of the 4th century theologian Augustine of Hippo, "who sees Eve’s sexuality as destructive to male rationality". By the seventeenth century, the Fall of man as a male-female struggle emerges, and in the eighteenth century, the perception of Eve is influenced by John Miltons Paradise Lost where Adam's free will is emphasized along with Eve's beauty. Thereafter a secular view of Eve emerges "through her transformation into a femme fatale—a compound of beauty, seductiveness and independence set to destroy the man."
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