Women in the World's Religions, Past and Present

Women in the World's Religions, Past and Present

Women in the World's Religions, Past and Present

Women in the World's Religions, Past and Present

Synopsis

This major collection of essays makes a new contribution to the role and image of women in the different world religions. Many new perceptions are revealed in this provocative collection, including insights into women in African traditional religions, in evangelical Christianity, and in new religious movements, which focus on some of today's fundamental questions: ò Are women hindered or encouraged to give full expression to their religious experience? ò How far do the different religious traditions draw on feminine symbols in speaking about ultimate reality? ò To what extent do women take part in ritual and religious practices or hold positions of authority? ò What is the actual religious experience of women, and how do women choose to follow a religious life?>

Excerpt

Women have gained a new awareness which makes them question much of what has long been simply taken for granted. Feminist experience and thinking now challenge many aspects of culture, especially many of the traditional ideas and practices rooted in religion. An exciting new field of enquiry thus has opened up through this examination of the image and role of women in different world religions. Over recent years a considerable number of books in this area have appeared, but our global religious heritage is so vast that many more studies will have to be undertaken before we possess a full picture of women in the world's religions in both the past and the present. This publication is meant to make a small contribution to the ongoing discussion in this field.

Looking at the past, one can ask what do the sacred scriptures, the theological and spiritual writings of the religions of the world, teach about women? How far do the different religions draw on feminine symbols in speaking about ultimate reality, about the nature and experience of the spirit? To what extent do women take part in ritual and religious practices, choose to follow the religious life, or hold positions of authority in particular religions? Most important, what is the religious experience of women? Why has it been so little reflected in the official theological literature whereas it has contributed so much to the wealth of mystical and spiritual writings in different religions?

Perhaps the central question today is how far women are still hindered or, on the contrary, encouraged in giving full expression to their religious experience. Contemporary feminists often sharply criticize traditional religions and explore the meaning of religion for women in a new way. Although this challenge has barely been met by the official religious leaders of the world, in each tradition women and men are beginning to reflect on its meaning.

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