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Women and Christianity: The First Thousand Years [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   276
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.26" Width: 5.39" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.69 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 18, 2001
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  1570753660  
EAN  9781570753664  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The history of Christianity reveals a great ambivalence towards women. On the one hand, women have been included, graced, called, inspired, and canonized by Christianity throughout the centuries. On the other hand, women have not always felt appreciated within the Christian tradition and have indeed often been excluded and even oppressed. Women & Christianity brings to light both the persistent courage and the innovative quality of women's lives. Dr. Malone's perspective not only offers a critical analysis of previous conventional histories, but emphasizes the importance of women's contributions to the creation of Western culture. Students and scholars of Christian history will find Women & Christianity a refreshing and valuable resource.

Publishers Description
Women have enriched and enabled Christianity for more than 2,000 years. In this, the first of three path-breaking volumes, theologian Mary T. Malone situates Christian women in their time and context, thus creating a continuous historical narrative rather than simply a series of vignettes. She uses women's writings and voices as primary sources on almost every page. All women, Christian or otherwise, who seek an understanding of their past will value this unprecedented, comprehensive history of Christian women and their contributions, not only to faith but to civilization.

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More About Mary T. Malone

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Product Categories
1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity   [2832  similar products]
2Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Social Sciences > Women's Studies   [959  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
History with a purpose  Apr 14, 2005
This text by Mary Malone is the first volume in a series on women in Christianity; the first volume covers the first thousand years of Christendom, and the second from the year 1000 to the Reformation. This volume covers the period from the beginning of Christianity to about the year 1000 (actually, most historians make the break at the year 1054, when the split between East and West was formalized), and as Malone states in the first chapter, 'The history of Christianity shows great ambivalence towards women.' Sometimes, the history is not so ambivalent, as when Peter Damian (an eleventh-century saint) exhibits a kind of 'road-rage' (Malone's term) against women; on the other hand, papal pronouncements about equality of the sexes in marriage or before God are often mitigated by the perceived need of hierarchical order, brought out by 'the sin of Eve'.

Malone's first chapter is one on method. She discusses the issues of conventional history, with its strengths and limitations, as well as new methods of reading and interpreting texts and silences, both in the biblical texts themselves and the later historical witness. We must recognise, according to Malone, that history is written for a purpose (and hence is not a simple, objective record of events). She makes the distinction between 'Christian history' and 'church history', claiming that the later makes theological assessments often inappropriate to the greater story of Christian history. She also introduces a technical term - periodisation, the idea of separating history into discrete, manageable periods; this division can often distort (even inadvertently).

Malone's feminist methodology sets out to deliberately search out and emphasise the voices of women in history, as well as critically reflect on the way in which women and their issues are portrayed. Her stated goal for this book 'is not write a history of women, but to redirect our historical attention.' She states (as is important with the idea of feminist history) what her biases are, and that she does not claim objectivity or neutrality.

The first section looks at women in the biblical texts and first centuries of Christian history. These include Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and other women who often remain unnamed in the biblical witness, hence becoming known by their story (the woman at the well, the healed woman, etc.). She touches on the ideas of feminist exegesis and feminist hermeneutics as compensatory, revolutionary, and transformative. Women in the early stories of Christianity include householders and sponsors, including some who warrant the title 'apostle', such as Junia and Phoebe. Paul's writing on women in inconsistent in the epistles (if they are meant to be all equally universally applied, rather than messages to specific communities addressing particular situations). Malone concludes this section by looking at the portrayal of women in apocryphal and Gnostic literature.

The second section of the text looks at the different roles of women in the developing church; one of the primary roles includes that of martyr. Women suffered alongside their male community members in the various repressions, and some of the strongest witnesses to faith come from women of this time (Blandina and Perpetua, among others). Sometimes, however, the witness of certain women was held to be suspect, as evidenced by Irenaeus' work against some women in southern Gaul. Women also took status as widows (an unordained but important office, one that 'died of its own ambiguities', according to Malone) and deaconess, an office that seems to have involved ordination prayers and charges. Terminology at this time is ambiguous and not universally consistent, however, so it is difficult to determine exactly these kinds of offices. These ideas led to the development of an idealised vision of virginity, coinciding with the rise of monastic communities for both men and women.

This leads naturally to the third section of the book, which looks a women in leadership roles in these monastic communities (some Abbesses were very powerful) as well as their role in missionary activity throughout Europe as part of the growing monastic movement. Despite the appearance of some strong figures, this was a period in which the continued participation of women in the leadership of the church generally was sharply curtailed, eventually ending with a near-silence from women in any corridor of power and authority. In some locations, the church hierarchy became co-equal with the aristocracy (often being drawn from the same families).

Malone's final chapter looks at the legend of Pope Joan, and Hroswitha of Gandersheim, a poet/dramatist who is credited with being the first Christian dramatist. Malone uses a narrative theological historical method to present these figures.

The book has a useful and comprehensive bibliography, but the index is incomplete - it lists people and places, but not ideas, key words or events, which would be more helpful. It begins with a useful timeline by which to anchor the various events chronologically.

Very readable, very interesting, Malone's work is worthwhile to anyone with an interest in the development of Christianity. Malone sees the current feminist movement as both a challenge and opportunity for Christianity, and this three-volume series helps support both ideas.
Examines the chronic and pervasive ambivalence towards women  Jul 5, 2001
In Women & Christianity, educator and author Mary Malone examines the chronic and pervasive ambivalence towards women throughout the first thousand years of Christianity. While women from the very beginnings of the Christian Church have been graced, called, inspired, and canonized down through the centuries, they have also been excluded and even oppressed by clergy and other leaders of the Christian community who cited scripture and Christian tradition (including Apocryphal and Gnostic literatures) as the justifying source of their discrimination. Very highly recommended for women's studies and students of Christian history from 30 C.E. to 1002 C.E. (the "Dateline" section is particularly noteworthy), Women & Christianity showcases both the persistent courage and the innovative quality of women's lives, as well as offering a critical analysis of previous conventional histories. The clear emphasis throughout is the enduring importance of women's contributions to the creation of Western culture in general, and the evolving Christian community in particular.

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