Women in Christian Traditions

Women in Christian Traditions

Women in Christian Traditions

Women in Christian Traditions

Synopsis

Women in Christian Traditions offers a concise and accessible examination of the roles women have played in the construction and practice of Christian traditions, revealing the enormous debt that this major world religion owes to its female followers. It recovers forgotten and obscured moments in church history to help us to realize a richer and fuller understanding of Christianity.

This text provides an overview of the complete sweep of Christian history through the lens of feminist scholarship. Yet it also departs from some of the assumptions of that scholarship, raising questions that challenge our thinking about how women have shaped beliefs and practices during two thousand years of church history. Did the emphasis on virginity in the early church empower Christian women? Did the emphasis on marriage during the Reformations of the sixteenth century improve their status? These questions and others have important implications for women in Christianity in particular, and for women in religion in general, since they go to the heart of the human condition.

This work examines themes, movements, and events in their historical contexts and locates churchwomen within the broader developments that have been pivotal in the evolution of Christianity. From the earliest disciples to the latest theologians, from the missionaries to the martyrs, women have been instrumental in keeping the faith alive. Women in Christian Traditions shows how they did so.

Excerpt

Any book that offers itself as a history of a subject that scores—if not hundreds—of books have already considered must negotiate two seemingly contradictory challenges. First, it must differentiate itself from previous works. Second, it must recognize, respect, and incorporate what they have taught us. These tasks are even more important when the subject itself is somewhat controversial or misunderstood, as is the case with women’s contributions to the development of a major world religion such as Christianity. Thus, this volume approaches the topic of women in Christian traditions by respecting the past but also facing the future.

This book interprets a vast body of scholarly studies in an accessible and relatively brief way. It gives a broad overview of the complete sweep of history rather than focusing on a particular moment, issue, or individual. It relies almost exclusively on feminist scholarship of the last several decades, yet also departs from some of the assumptions of that scholarship. It raises questions that challenge our thinking about how women shaped beliefs and practices during two thousand years of church history. For example, did the emphasis on virginity in the early church empower Christian women? Did the emphasis on marriage during the Reformations of the sixteenth century improve their status?

These questions and others have important implications for women in Christianity in particular and women in religion in general, since they go to the heart of the human condition. Who are we and how are we to live? Societies and cultures provide their own answers with which various religious groups may agree or disagree. When we consider the . . .

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