It seems to me that there was a community of women who participated in public liturgy, composing and reciting communal songs, keeping traditional women's prayers and songs alive. These texts come to the fore in the stories of Deborah and Jael, Hannah, and Mary and Elizabeth. We read of the participation of women in public worship in the stories of Miriam, Deborah, Jephthah's daughter, David's triumph and in Psalm 68.
Stories of the intimate actions of women are kept alive in the tales of Rachel, Tamar, Ruth and Naomi, Rahab and Mary and Elizabeth. These stories are centred around the theme of kindness and loyalty, a tenderness not only to those of the same sex, their sisters, in a metaphorical sense, as Ruth was to Naomi, but also to men, as we see in Rahab. Tamar demonstrates a commitment to seek justice for oneself.
I cannot say what lessons we should draw from these stories, but perhaps they speak to different people at different times in their lives. I find it hard not to hear the voice of women in these narratives, regardless of who actually took stylus in hand. We have little information on that account.
Another place that I see the authorship of women is in the story of Rebekah. She too, acts in kindness to Abraham's servant. Not that kindness cannot be attributed to men also. I don't mean that. However, kindness is a theme that runs alongside patriarchy, that undermines patriarchy. Its power - for women - comes from women in community or in their families, women needed by men in order to produce the family, women to whom God makes promises concerning family. Kindness is a strength, from God, from others, from oneself, and it is something that one has for the sole purpose of giving to others.
Another indication of female authorship, I believe, is that in the narratives of Rebekah and Ruth, as well as in the Song of Solomon, we read of the importance of "one's mother's house."
- And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things Gen. 24:28
And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother's house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. Ruth 1:8
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. Song of Solomon 3:4
- If only you were to me like a brother,
who was nursed at my mother's breasts!
Then, if I found you outside,
I would kiss you,
and no one would despise me.
I would lead you
and bring you to my mother's house—
she who has taught me.
I would give you spiced wine to drink,
the nectar of my pomegranates.
These lines, these emotions, undermine the notion, in my eyes, that the scriptures were "written by" men. They seem to be rather the texts of a community of men and women, albeit men representing the majority of the narratives.