Daughter of God

Great Books About Religion & Women

My research for Daughter of God involved a lot of research. Not only did I make the visits described here, but also read more than 100 books on religion, religious history and accounts of the development of human culture and society. I was particulartly interested in those books that try to account for why women went from the top of the religious and cultural pyramid to the bottom.

During this research, I read from cover to cover The Quran, The Christian Bible (Old and New Testament) and the Jewish Bible. I also read the "non-official" scriptures -- those without official religious blessing -- which included the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Library (the so-called "Gnostic Gospels"), the Apocrypha and a trans-religious collection of scriptures on specific topics that included not only Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shinto and other world religions.

Some of these books were better than others, and I have listed the better ones below.

How did women get kicked so far down the societal pyramid?

In short the argument goes like this: tied down by children, women helped develop agriculture by domesticating plants and animals. Agriculture allowed abundant food which allowed population to grow and for people to specialize in roles other than hunter/gatherer and child bearer. Specialization and population growth brought small bands of early humans in conflict with each other and that prompted the first self-protection forces (armies) and a rudimentary "government." Only abundant food (agriculture) allowed the maintenance of a standing army and bureaucrats.

Staking out territory and protecting it became more important which meant that men with their stronger bodies assumed a more important role. As that happened, the pure matrimony of inheritance and the female hegemony over religion began to wane.

There is, of course, a lot more to things than this short paragraph can describe. However, the three books I have listed on this page: Guns, Germs and Steel, Women's Work and When God Was a Woman can really help flesh out the understanding especially if one reads them all together ... even simultaneously.

Guns, Germs, and Steel Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
By Jared Diamond

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond explains the reasons why things worked out the way they have for women and societies in general.

Diamond, a professor of physiology at UCLA, suggests that the geography of Eurasia was best suited to farming, the domestication of animals, and the free flow of information. The more populous cultures thatdeveloped as a result had more complex forms of government and communication--and increased resistance to disease.

Diamond's book is complex, but the thesis he methodically puts forth--examining the "positive feedback loop" of farming, then domestication, then population density, then innovation, and on and on--makes sense.

Because women played a key role in the development of farming, (which ultimately lead to their downfall in society) this is a rich, deep book from which to take much understanding.

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women's work Women's Work :The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times
By Elizabeth Wayland Barber

Prior to the Bronze age, when male-run guilds commercialized the textile industry, it was women who ruled the fiber arts (most likely because cloth production, like food production, was compatible with childrearing) as weavers, spinners, cloth and clothing makers. Their work helped build the economies of early societies and led to advances in technology and the art of mass production. Women's cloth making also built a symbolic language in the coded messages women wove-as tribal insignia and cultural trademarks in patterns woven into cloth, and as social and sexual status symbols. Tracing the roles of women's cloth making in societies worldwide over the last 20,000 years, Women's Work reclaims the great impact of clothing in women's lives and of women's cloth making on society.

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when God was a woman When God Was a Woman
By Merlin Stone

Here, archaeologically documented is the story of the religion of the Goddess. Known by many names, she reigned supreme in the Near and Middle East. How did the change in women's roles come about? By documenting the wholesale rewriting of myth and religious dogmas, Stone details an ancient conspiracy that laid the foundation for one of culture's greatest shams--the legend of Adam and fallen Eve.

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More Books

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