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UK News

Renaissance paintings of Adam and Eve symbolised 'sexism' says professor

by Alex Collett

A new study by the University of Edinburgh has found that Renaissance paintings of Adam and Eve frequently showed Eve - in the book of Genesis - as a "sinister" figure.

According to researchers at the university, hundreds of paintings from the 15th Century show Eve consistently painted on the left hand side of Adam, portraying "sexism".

One of co-authors of the study, Prof Sergio Della Sala, who is a specialist in neuropsychology told The Telegraph “This dark triad of original sexism, historically, permeates the visual art of Western Christian cultures.”

Tina Beattie, Professor at Roehampton University told Premier Christian News she is not surprised by the findings and said Christians should have challenged this 'status quo' earlier on: "If we look way back to the beginning of Christian art, we can see the signs of the female body being denigrated, and held in fear and suspicion for original sin.

"It's only half the story and there's a very complex relationship between culture, religion and art, Christianity should have done much more to challenge the sexual hierarchies of the ancient world and instead of that it conformed to them.

"Life's always easier if you want to get ahead if you just keep up the status quo."

Ms Beattie doesn't think that the Catholic Church has helped the 'status quo' either. She said: "As a Roman Catholic, I have to say, I don't think the Catholic Church has done too well on the subject of women.

"In fact, I think women in the early Middle Ages had far more status and influence in the church than they have today, if we're talking about Catholicism, which was, of course, the only pre modern form of Christianity, apart from the Orthodox.

"But I think we also have to bear in mind that Christianity also had a very positive effect on culture for women. Of course, it's not perfect, and I'm a feminist theologian. I'm very critical of the misogyny that Christianity perpetuates.

"But misogyny -'Original Sin' is a good name for it, because really, it's not confined to any particular culture or era or society."

Currently the Catholic Church does not allow women to become priests.

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