Cover image for Women and spiritual equality in Christian tradition
Women and spiritual equality in Christian tradition
Ranft, Patricia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 307 pages ; 22 cm
The spiritual nature of woman in Scripture and early Christian writings -- Women in early Christian communities -- Fourth-century theologians -- Fourth-century women -- Devotional life and Mary in late antiquity -- Early medieval saints East and West -- Early medieval monasticism and Church life -- The High Middle Ages: hermits and scholars -- The new spirituality and medieval culture -- Late medieval mysticism and the devotio moderna -- Women in late medieval sermons, literature, and the arts -- Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Enlightenment opinions of women.
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BV639.W7 R36 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A controversial challenge to the idea that the history of Christianity shows a record of rampant misogyny.

Author Notes

Patricia Ranft is Professor of History at Central Michigan University

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Playing devil's advocate, Ranft (history, Central Michigan Univ.) works to demonstrate how Christian women achieved spiritual equality in a seemingly misogynist tradition. She documents with vigor, hoping to counter "the validity of the assumption that Christianity is at its core misogynist," challenging warnings from historians like Caroline Walker Bynum against inference from scanty evidence with a positivistic, Why not? Heavily weighed toward the early Christian centuries, Ranft's work cites more than it analyzes and for many biblical and feminist scholars will seem to overlook some key passages; the metaphor of the church as the bride of Christ and Mary's Magnificat both miss consideration. Ranft concludes that Christianity borrowed misogyny from its culture instead of inventing it; it's a simple point that takes a long time to come. Recommended for collections in need of depth in women's studies.¬ĎSandra Collins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In Women and Spiritual Equality in Christian Tradition, Ranft (Central Michigan Univ.) revisits some of the terrain covered in her previous book Women and the Religious Life in Premodern Europe (CH, Sep'96) in order to provide historical evidence of "one particular voice within [Christian] discourse on women." That voice is "the strong and enduring tradition that maintains the spiritual equality of women." Ranft explains at the outset that she is more interested in "documenting incidences of women's presence in Christianity than in analyzing the modes of her presence." Nonetheless, the grounding of her survey in the historiography of Peter Brown, Carolyn Walker Bynum, Larissa Taylor, Steven Ozment, Kari B/orresen, and many others is represented and carefully cited. Ranft reveals the richness and pervasiveness of the theme of women's spiritual equality not only (or even primarily) in the works of the theological establishment but also in literary sources and objects of material culture that were accessible to and informed by laywomen and religious women. Ranft clearly distinguishes the positive tradition of spiritual equality within Christianity from the negative, misogynist traditions that Christianity "reinforced and borrowed" from surrounding secular cultures. General readers, upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and researchers. D. Campbell; Colby College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. viii
Introductionp. ix
1. The Spiritual Nature of Woman in Scripture and Early Christian Writingsp. 1
2. Women in Early Christian Communitiesp. 17
3. Fourth-Century Theologiansp. 37
4. Fourth-Century Womenp. 53
5. Devotional Life and Mary in Late Antiquityp. 73
6. Early Medieval Saints East and Westp. 93
7. Early Medieval Monasticism and Church Lifep. 113
8. The High Middle Ages: Hermits and Scholarsp. 133
9. The New Spirituality and Medieval Culturep. 155
10. Late Medieval Mysticism and the Devotio modernap. 179
11. Women in Late Medieval Sermons, Literature, and the Artsp. 195
12. Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Enlightenment Opinions of Womenp. 213
Epiloguep. 231
Abbreviationsp. 233
Notesp. 233
Bibliographyp. 283
Indexp. 303