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A Company of Women Preachers
Baptist Prophetesses in Seventeenth-Century England
When the Baptist movement began four centuries ago, revolutionary forces had destabilized the centers of social control that had long kept women in their place. In the early seventeenth century, Baptist women began to speak their minds. Through their prophetic writings, these women came to exercise considerable influence and authority among the early churches. When Baptists became more institutionalized later in the century, the egalitarian distinction dissipated and women’s voices again, for a long history, were silenced. However, long ago, in early Baptist life in England, women did preach—well and often.
In A Company of Women Preachers, Curtis Freeman collects and presents a critical edition of these prophetic women’s texts, retrieving their voices so that their messages and contributions to the tradition may once again be recognized.
Introduction: Preaching Women among Early Baptists
1 Katherine Chidley
The Justification of the Independant Churches of Christ (1641)
2 Sarah Wight
The Exceeding Riches of Grace Advanced (1647)
3 Elizabeth Poole
An Alarum of War, Given to the Army (1649)
Another Alarum of War, Given to the Army (1649)
4 Jane Turner
Choice Experiences of the Kind Dealings of God (1653)
5 Anna Trapnel: The Cry of a Stone (1654)
Report and Plea, or, A Narrative of Her Journey (1654)
A Legacy for Saints (1654)
6 Katherine Sutton
A Christian Woman's Experiences of the Glorious Working of God's Free Grace (1663)
7 Anne Wentworth
A True Account of Anne Wentworths (1676)
A Vindication of Anne Wentworth (1677)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1679)
Englands Spiritual Pill (c. 1679)
Index of Names and Subjects
"With selections ranging from Katherine Chidley to Anne Wentworth, this valuable collection allows readers to hear the often neglected voices of early Baptist women who openly exercised their "gifts" for teaching and preaching. Freeman's careful research enhances our understanding of this contentious topic within Baptist history as well as providing insight into the lives of the women themselves. His book will be a welcome addition for scholars and students of women's history, church history, and Baptist history."
—Beth Allison Barr, Assistant Professor of European Women's History, Baylor University
"A Company of Women Preachers is a remarkable resource for those who study early modern religion. In this book, we hear the voices of women who have largely been silenced and forgotten--voices that will surprise, challenge, and intrigue those who encounter them. With this book Professor Freeman has done valuable service both for the women whose writings he includes and for those students and scholars who will now have an accessible way to engage with those writings."
—Nancy Bradley Warren, Professor of English, Courtesy Professor of Religion, Florida State University
"Freeman's collection succeeds in its aims: it gives a pulpit to a class of women preachers that might not otherwise have it. The texts are engaging in themselves merely for the richness of the modes of religious expression contained therein before consideration is even given to the extraordinariness of such vocal women in a time and community which would seem predisposed to silence them."
—Sean Patrick Webb, Harding School of Theology, Homiletic (2011, 36:1)
"We owe Curtis Freeman a debt of gratitude, not only for making these texts available so easily, and with such a helpful introduction, but for all the questions we are now faced with as a result of being able to read them together."
—Baptist Quarterly (2012, 44:6)
“Freeman’s book will be of interest to anyone working in the seventeenth-century Quaker women’s writings and provides a valuable tool for comparative work.”
—Betty Hagglund, University of Birmingham, Quaker Studies (17:2)
“…a precious and vital (both essential and lively) resource for anyone who has an interest in Baptist history or women's preaching.”
—Catriona Gorton, Regent’s Review (6:1), Hillhead Baptist Church
“Splendid. A most exciting Baptist history. This material profoundly challenges popular perceptions of women in Baptist life and deserves the widest possible readership.”
—Dr. Ian Randall, Director of Research at Spurgeon’s College, London, and Senior Research Fellow at International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague
Curtis W. Freeman is Research Professor of Theology and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.