Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Women & Christianity, Volume One: The First Thousand Years

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Women & Christianity, Volume One: The First Thousand Years

Article excerpt

Women & Christianity, Volume One: The First Thousand Years. By Mary T. Malone. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. 2001. First published in 2000 in Ireland by the Columba Press. Pp. 276. $20.00 paperback.)

Malone's indictment of the patriarchal, kyriarchal church and its historio- graphical conventions, which have conspired both institutionally and discursively to marginalize and silence Christian women, is a powerful and accessible example of feminist consciousness-raising. Now retired after what must have been a successful teaching career, a still unjaded Malone conveys both feminist joy at discovering the historical centrality of women to Christian beginnings, and feminist outrage at the androcentric church's progressive ejection of women from ministerial service. Malone offers no scholarly breakthroughs, and sometimes gives short shrift to recent scholarship, particularly in chapters 8-10 ("Into the Dark Ages (Sixth to Tenth Centuries)"), but she does report (with engaging clarity) the most significant insights of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Elizabeth Clark, Peter Brown, and others. Unfortunately, much in the "Dark Age" chapters could be skewered. Examples of Malone's misinformation are her claims that Hugeberc, "Abbess of Hildesheim's" [recte nun of Heidenheim] Latin biography of St. Willibald, the Hodoeporicon, "is one of the first travelogues in the German language" (p. 206), and that "Benedict of Aniane, the great tenth-century abbot" (p. 217) [recte ninth-century] "legislated canonesses out of existence" (p. 235) when in fact Benedict legislated canonesses into existence with the Institutio sanctimonialium Aquisgranen- sis (816), companion piece of the Institutio canonicorum. Malone's accep- tance of the historical reality of Pope Joan (pp. 231-135) is highly debatable. …

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