AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Women and Spiritual Equality in Christian Tradition by Patricia Ranft. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998, 306 pp., $55.00 hardcover, $21.95 paper.
Women in the Church: Moving Toward Equality by Lesly F. Massey. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2002, 215 pp., $32.00 hardcover, $18.00 paper.
Women and World Religions by Lucinda Joy Peach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2002, 394 pp., $34.67 hardcover, $23.50 paper.
Women, Gender, Religion: A Reader edited by Elizabeth A. Castelli with Rosamond C. Rodman. New York: Palgrave, 2001, 550 pp., $85.00 hardcover, $27.95 paper.
Over twenty years ago the classic anthology Womanspirit Rising revealed the inherent patriarchy of Western religion, and sought to elevate women's experience in the study of religion (Christ and Plaskow 1979). Ten years later, the same authors, Judith Plaskow and Carol P. Christ published a second landmark anthology, Weaving the Visions, in which Western religion was seen as "not simply sexist but racist, imperialist, ethnocentric, and heterosexist as well" (1989, 2).
The works reviewed here take for granted this interplay of issues of gender, race, imperialism, class, and sexuality. Another decade later, these works demonstrate that many new complexities have entered the dialog. What happens when scholars determine that portions of a religious tradition are egalitarian, demonstrating that the tradition has not always been purely patriarchal? What are the relationships, after several decades of such study, between feminist scholarship, the study of religion, the place of women in society, and variables of women's lives? What do we learn when these issues and lives are read through interdisciplinary approaches to the feminist study of religion, or when feminist scholars of religion turn to criticism of one another's work?
The outstanding anthology Women, Gender, Religion and the textbook Women and World Religions cover a variety of world religions. The former involves highly challenging theoretical engagement, while the latter seeks to bring a practical, instructional perspective to bear. Women and Spiritual Equality in Christian Tradition and Women in the Church center exclusively on Christianity, each uniquely unearthing historical and theological documentation concerning the role of women in Christian tradition.