Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Woman's Bible
Ursula Gestefeld was a New Thought writer in the early 1900s involved with the work of the Suffrage Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The New Thought Movement was a Woman’s Movement at the turn of the century. Ernest Holmes came into new thought much later after the 19th amendment (voting rights for women passed) in 1920.
[The following is Appendix C in Voices of the Angels, a New Thought Reader, yet to be published.]
The Woman's Bible
is a collection of essays and commentaries on the Bible compiled in 1895 by a committee chaired by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention (the first Woman's Rights Convention held in 1848) and a founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Elizabeth Cady Stantton worked closely and in partnership with Susan B. Anthony during the women’s suffrage movement in the earl 1900s.
Stanton's purpose was to initiate a critical study of biblical texts that are used to degrade and subject women in order to demonstrate that it is not divine will that humiliates women, but human desire for domination. In "denying divine inspiration for demoralizing ideas," Stanton's committee hoped to exemplify a reverence for a higher Christian "Spirit of all Good."
From The Woman’s Bible: The letters and comments are in answer to the questions: 1. Have the teachings of the Bible advanced or retarded theemancipation of women? 2. Have they dignified or degraded the Mothers of the Race? Ursula Gestefeld”s response: Like the shield which was gold on one side and silver on the other,the Bible has two sides or aspects. As travelers approaching theshield from opposite directions quarreled over its nature because eachsaw only that side which he had approached, people have differed intheir view of the Bible and its influence upon mankind because only oneaspect has been visible to them.
Acceptance of the Bible literally tends to retard the development ofboth man and woman, and consequently the establishment of their highest and best relation to each other, a relation upon which depends their usefulness to the community. Both the law of Moses and the teachings of Paul, thus considered, belittle woman more than they exalt her. While words of praise and promises of future place and power are not altogether lacking, this is the impression left upon the mind of the reader who is not able to pass around to the other side andgain another view. Exoterically considered, the Bible offers less of the ethical and the spiritual than of the physical possibilities of woman as the complement to man; but esoterically considered, it is found to exact the spiritual possibilities above the rest--above even the like possibilities of the man. The Bible has been, and will continue to be, a stumbling-block in the way of development of inherent resources, consequently of the truest civilization, in proportion to the strength of its exoteric aspect with the people. It will cease to be a stumbling block and become a powerful impetus in the desired direction instead, when its inner meaning becomes revelator, companion and friend.
In the literal rendering of the Bible, woman appears first and above all as man's subordinate; but this inner meaning shows her first and above all as the individual equal with him, and afterward his complement, or what she is able to be for him. Portrayed as the mother of the Saviour of the world, one woman is exalted above all women when only physical motherhood is seen; and the consequence has been that one woman has been worshiped and the sex has been crucified. This one woman has been lifted above her place; and all women have fallen correspondingly below it.
Not till "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" shall pierce with its rays the darkness of the sensuous nature, will woman's spiritual motherhood for the race, be discerned as the way of its redemption from that darkness and its consequences. As that light is uncovered in individual souls the inner meaning of the Bible will appear, woman's nature as the individual and her true relativity to man be seen. Then the mistakes which have been ignorantly made will be rectified, because both sides of the shield will be seen. Men and women will clasp hands as comrades with a common destiny; religion and science will each reveal their destiny and prove that truth which the Bible even exoterically declares that "the woman is the glory of the man." Ursula N. Gestefeld.