Some Origins of the Belief that Women Are Inferior to Men

Pandora’s Box – 800 BC
First recorded myth that blames a woman for the ills of the world.

Persia – 700s BC
Esther, fear of kings advisors that women would rise up and defy their husbands

Apocrypha – 250 BC
“The Wisdom of Ben Sira,” “From woman is the beginning of sin and because of her all die.”

Talmudic writings
Jewish prayer that every man prayed every day thanking God that He did not “make me a Gentile, a woman, or a boor.”

Greek Philosophers

Socrates – 470-399 BC
Often referred to women as the weaker sex, and argued that being born a woman is a divine curse since woman is halfway between man and animal.

Plato – 427-347 BC
Disciple of Socrates, taught Aristotle.

Aristotle – 384-322 BC
Formalized the practice of sexual discrimination and brought authority to the belief in sexual inequality.

Demosthenes – contemporary to Aristotle
Role of women in society: “courtesans for our pleasure, female slaves for daily sexual use, and wives to bring up legitimate children and be faithful steward in household matters.”

Greek Stoics
Regarded women as hindrances, distractions, and temptations.

Jewish philosopher contemporary to Christ. “A wife is a selfish creature, adept at beguiling the morals of her husband.”

Church Fathers

Tertullian – 160-230 AD
Roman lawyer, trained in Greek Stoic philosophy, leading defender of Christianity. “Woman, do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil’s gateway; …you are the first deserter of the divine law; …you destroyed so easily God’s image in man.”

St. Augustine and Jerome
Church fathers schooled in Stoic philosophy, taught celibacy superior to marriage.

Thomas Aquinas – 1225-1274 AD
Gentle and brilliant, a doctor. Did more to systematize Christian beliefs than any other, and harmonize them with Greek philosophy. Interpreted Paul’s writing through the eyes of Aristotle. With his teachings, the Greek deprecation of women became firmly cemented into Christianity (p. 114, Bristow).

(Taken mostly from: What Paul Really Said About Women, John Temple Bristow, Harper, San Francisco, 1988.)

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  1. I’m glad this was a teaching. I never really thought of where these lies came from. I just took it for granted it was all lies from the devil, but its nice to know some of the major figures that made this horrible lie a reality in the church.

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