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Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch Of Genesis Paperback – July 15, 1984

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a valuable piece of original research, one which makes a considerable contribution to an understanding of the obscure origins of the role women play in the Genesis narratives.”
— Raphael Patai, author of The Jewish Mind and The Arab Mind


“First we had Merlin Stone’s When God Was a Woman and now we have Savina Teubal’s Sarah the Priestess. Teubal re-examines our Biblical foremothers in light of the cultural context from which they came, the ancient Mesopotamian art work, tablets, codification and legends. In her fresh, far-reaching, controversial and playful study, Teubal has altered our vision, explained mysterious references, and has produced an enormously important work.”
— E. M. Broner, author of Her Mothers and A Weave of Women


“This is one of the most original and stimulating studies of patriarchal religion and traditions that has been presented to the scholarly and general public in our time. The central idea is so startling that most readers are likely to dismiss it as sheer speculation. However, the book requires the most careful and serious reading and will repay those who invest the time and effort manyfold.”
— David Noel Freedman, director, Studies in Religion, University of Michigan

From the Back Cover

'Sarah the Priestess is a challenging and important work. It pushes us to read our sacred text with a new openness to questions never before asked, questions about women as sources of religious authority and tradition. It is a groundbreaking work of feminist biblical historiography.' --Rabbi Laura Geller
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Swallow Press; Reprint edition (July 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804008442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804008440
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most signifigant books I have ever read. For years I have been buying it by the dozen to give away to women who I thought would also find it important. In this book, Teubal looks at the Book of Genesis starting from the point that Abraham and Sarah are a nice Mesopotanian couple in which Sarah is a priestess of a particular order that permits its priestess's to marry but not have children. She is a working priestess of this order and Abraham is a follower of the new ways he finds in Caanan. Through this start she explains many of the confusing parts of Genesis by looking at the stories through the eye of Mesopotainian customs. This changes Genesis totally. For example in Mesopotania the youngest inherits, not the oldest; family trees are traced through the female, so Sarah and Abraham who have the same father but different mothers are not related at all in that world. Over the years I have successfully used the book for several book discussion groups. In one instance one of the participants after we finished said " I feel better about Sarah and also myself." I cannot think of any book that has changed my way of looking at the Bible more.
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Format: Paperback
I loved this book!

As a lay scholar I have tried to find the underlying meaning behind the actions of the matriarchs in the bible. I was tired of hearing all the criticisims of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael, Lea and the daughters of Lot. The answers I was seeking to find were to be found in the ancient practices of the goddess. Once the author takes us through the life of Sarah and Rebecca the rest fall into place as a consistent theme in the lives of women trying to preserve their own religious conviction during a time of religious change and unheaval.

If you want to get past the archaic patriarchial attitude of bible interpretation and explore the more ancient pre-biblical practices of the early forefathers and mothers of the faith, dare to read this book!
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Format: Paperback
I love this book, too! As a feminist but not a Biblical scholar, I was thrilled to read this careful analysis by a trained scholar who brought professional expertise as well as a feminist viewpoint to the study of Genesis.

This is not a "waving the hands" book where a matriarchal past is invented because the author likes the idea. Instead, Teubal unravels the text of Genesis into several strands and analyzes each strand scrupulously, using her knowledge of inheritance laws and parallel religious customs in the lands Sarah and Abraham came from. The results are riveting. She finds parallels between Sarah's life and the lives of Babylonian priestesses from Ur (Abraham and Sarah's hometown). Based on this, Teubal postulates that Sarah may have been a priestess, although there isn't even a word for a woman in this role in Hebrew -- yet the otherwise puzzling story falls into place when looked at from this perspective.

Another tidbit: Teubal points out that the Bible, usually described as the story of Abraham's descendents, is more accurately the story of Sarah's descendants. This is because Abraham had other descendants through Hagar and Keturah, yet the Bible doesn't follow their stories through the generations, as it does the stories of Sarah's descendants. This indicates something of Sarah's original importance.

As previous reviewers have said, Teubal's hypothesis gives the Genesis story a whole new meaning. Although it's written so technically and with scholarly attention to documentation, the cumulative effect of the book is exciting! It's far more radical than "The Red Tent," and also more convincing because it's based on real knowledge rather than fantasy. Teubal's scholarly technique makes the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Savina J. Teubal wrote two books that truly opened my eyes to how history has been manipulated to continue a cultural position that minimizes the real story of humanity. I read Haggar the Egyptian first and was so impressed that I immediatley bought a copy of Sarah the Priestess. These are the types of books that need to be read and become well known to offset the prior bias found in books about religious history. Keep up your excellent work, Savina Teubal. May Sinclair, Author, Infamous Eve, A History
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is serious book so I researched the author.
I suggest you do the same.
I found her to be interesting and more than a little adventurous and not flaky, which Is what I expected.
I have had a long time feeling that the "Church" has done a great deal to manufacture a Patriarchal Society to the detriment of women. This book confirms that I am not the only person who thinks so.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Scholarly, but not never dull. This book looks beyond the words of Torah and enters the realm of the anthropologist and the archaeologist to discover so much more than than the Torah scribes have told us.
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