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The Bible in American Life$
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Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.001.0001

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The Bible and the Legacy of First Wave Feminism

The Bible and the Legacy of First Wave Feminism

(p.183) 15 The Bible and the Legacy of First Wave Feminism
The Bible in American Life

Claudia Setzer

Oxford University Press

In its arguments for women’s rights and the vote, first wave feminism showed a variety of attitudes toward the Bible and its authority. Sarah Grimké and Frances Willard argued that the biblical text endorsed women’s equality and only misinterpretation and outright manipulation could make it say otherwise. Sojourner Truth and Anna Julia Cooper saw the Bible as the ally of African-American women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, editor of The Woman’s Bible, and others saw the Bible as a tool in women’s oppression. Ernestine Rose maintained that women’s rights stemmed from human rights and natural law alone. Lucretia Mott suggested the text had lost its utility, as it had in abolitionism. The Bible lost much of its authority in the struggle for women’s rights as the twentieth century dawned, but elements of the three stances toward the Bible and women’s rights continue to be visible in second wave and third wave feminism.

Keywords:   Woman’s Bible, Bible, Sarah Grimké, Frances Willard, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, second wave feminism, third wave feminism

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