However, I have been persuaded that I must speak out on a few points. I was impressed during a lunch hour seminar on the easy interaction between the theologians present, men and women, Jewish and Christian. The ordained women, Jewish and Christian, did not focus on "women's issues" and were not in a defensive and embattled position.
Laura Kaplan touched on gender issues in a minor way. Robert Daum, on the other hand, in presenting Midrash, spent close to half the class hours on women's issues. He spoke of his mother, his sister and women sages of the Talmudic literature and women in Judaism today.
The hour spent on discussing Jephthah's daughter well outclassed any discussion of her in Christian literature. In fact, many people in the class had tears in their eyes as we read the Midrashic literature arguing the injustice of her death.
There is no pretending that the Talmudic rabbis and the church fathers have not said some very distasteful things about women. They have also both written some equivocating passages which demonstrate that there was discomfort with patriarchy and a non-acceptance of some of the more cruel passages of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
I would not personally compare the growing and misogynist literature of complementarians to the teachings of the Talmud. Why not compare it to Tertullian or some other notorious Christian misogynist?
Here is a review on one of the books Robert Daum recommended,
In a new book, Anti-Judaism in Religious Feminist Writing (American Academy of Religion Cultural Criticism Series) Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994, Katherina von Kellenbach, a German immigrant to the United States, tells of her journey to studying and understanding this problem.
In her introduction, von Kellenbach, a Lutheran woman studying to be a minister, recounts meeting a Jew for the first time, a fellow student in the religion department of Temple University. She found it incomprehensible that a Jewish woman would want to study to become a rabbi in a religion which was "utterly male identified, patriarchal, sexist and chauvinist," as well as being tied up with meaningless laws and restrictions.
The experience of coming to know this Jewish woman and learning that her stereotypes of Judaism were not accurate impacted von Kellenbach in a profound way, particularly because she had been confronting anti-Semitism in her own family--including a relative's complicity in the cruel deaths of many Jews during the holocaust in Germany.
A feminist, von Kellenbach points out that Christian theology over the centuries has often been tainted by anti-Semitism. While her study is of anti-Judaism in feminist writings, von Kellenbach makes it very clear that this is not the only theology which has the problem. As a feminist she does not want her book to be used to undermine the search for respect for women in the churches. But she feels she must challenge feminist theologians who, whether wittingly or unwittingly, contribute to anti-Judaism.