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Women, Writing, Theology
Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion
Edited by Emily A. Holmes and Wendy Farley
Women's theology has traditionally been pushed to the margins; it is "spirituality" or "mysticism" rather than theology proper. Theology from women has been transmitted orally, recorded by men as sayings or in hagiographies, or passed on as "stealth theology" in poems, hymns, or practices. In the past forty years, women have claimed theology for themselves and others as womanists, feminists, mujeristas, Asian, third-world, disabled, and queer women. Yet in most academic and ecclesial theology, the contributions of women skirt the borders of the written tradition. This unique volume asks about the conditions of women writing theology. How have women historically justified their writing practices? What internal and external constraints shape their capacity to write? What counts as theology, and who qualifies as a theologian? And what does it mean for women to enter a tradition that has been based, in part, on their exclusion? These essays explore such questions through historical investigations, theoretical analyses, and contemporary constructions.
Introduction: Mending a Broken Lineage: Women, Writing, Theology
by Emily A. Holmes (Christian Brothers University)
1. "Fear and Women's Writing: Choosing the Better Part"
by Michelle Voss Roberts (Rhodes College)
2. "'A Wretched Choice?': Evangelical Women and the Word"
by Shelly Rambo (Boston University)
3. "'My God Became Flesh': Angela of Foligno Writing the Incarnation"
by Emily A. Holmes (Christian Brothers University)
4. "Speaking Funk: Womanist Insights into the Lives of Syncletica and Macrina"
by Kendra G. Hotz (Rhodes College)
5. "'A Moor of One’s Own': Writing and Silence in Sara Maitland's A Book of Silence"
by Leigh Pittenger (Emory University)
6. "With Prayer and Pen: Reading Mother E. J. Dabney's What It Means to Pray Through"
by Michele Jacques Early (Virginia Union University)
7. "Writing a Life, Writing Theology: Edith Stein in the Company of the Saints"
by Meghan T. Sweeny (Boston College)
8. "Writing Hunger on the Body: Simone Weil's Ethic of Hunger and Eucharistic Practice"
by Elizabeth A. Webb (Liberty, Missouri)
9. "The Body, to be Eaten, to be Written: A Theological Reflection on the Act of Writing in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee"
by Min-Ah Cho (Emory University)
10. "Not with One Voice: The Counterpoint of Life, Diaspora, Women, Theology, and Writing"
by Kristine Suna-Koro (Xavier University)
11. "Embodying Theology: Motherhood as Metaphor/Method"
by Marcia W. Mount Shoop (University Presbyterian Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Postscript: Wounded Writing/Healing Writing
by Wendy Farley (Emory University)
"The picture that emerges from Women, Writing, Theology is one of the conscience in its purest form, and all the different patterns created by each individual following hers. Any reader who's ever had the sense that something has been left out of the official story of their faith will find some treasure in the excavation projects led by these diverse authors."
—Conscience (2012, 33:3)
"The collection is both insightful and interesting; each contributor successfully articulates an appreciation of both the violent prohibitions and transformative possibilities of women writing theology."
—Emily Pennington, University of Chester, Theological Book Review
"In this volume twelve women theological writers interact with other women theological writers from across history. They reflect on the experience of women's marginalization as writers and the way women have overcome this. In many breakthrough examples we witness how women have written themselves into transformed life, health and wisdom. This is a book to be read slowly, contemplatively."
—Rosemary Radford Ruether, Professor of Feminist Theology, Claremont Graduate University
“Women, Writing, Theology is a wellspring of consolation and hope for feminist theologians.”
—Susan Abraham, Harvard Divinity School, Journal of the American Academy of Religion (81:4)
"This passionate volume shows how believing women, in a dozen times and places, found ways to write theology despite all the prohibitions. They wrote it as lives and letters of counsel, hymns and novels and poems—stubborn testimonies of their refusal to surrender the Word. From them—from this book—Christian theologians can learn again the promises of the art they profess."
—Mark D. Jordan, Harvard Divinity School
"This wonderfully rich collection of women's contributions to theological thinking offers an important alternative set of lenses to the simplistic options of explicit protest literature vs. silence. The very concept of theology is deepened profoundly by these examples of women's writing and lived practices over the centuries as theology is stretched to include different literary genres and different forms of life expression. A very important and original piece of work."
—Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity School
Emily A. Holmes is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Christian Brothers University. She previously served as co-chair of the Women and Religion section of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
Wendy Farley is Professor of Religion and Ethics at Emory University. Her previous publications include The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth and Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.