WOMEN AND RELIGION: Readings in the Western Tradition from Aeschylus to Mary Daly by Elizabeth & Herbert Richardson--Eds. Clark

WOMEN AND RELIGION: Readings in the Western Tradition from Aeschylus to Mary Daly

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a startlingly real way, the Garden of Eden is the battleground of this interesting and useful volume, which chronicles Christianity's heavy bias against the ""second sex."" It is instructive if dismaying to be shown the depth of the damage done to women by the Genesis stories of Eve's creation from Adam's rib and of the Fall, as dogmatized by writers from New Testament times to the present. The editors begin with a historical overview and then offer selections, with commentary, from the works of major theologians and spiritual leaders. They quickly get into juicy territory with the attempts of Clement of Alexandria, in the late second century, to combat the influence of the Gnostic sects--some heretically ascetic, some heretically licentious, and partaking variously of paganism, Judaism, Greek philosophy, and Christianity--with an orthodox position on Christian marriage. The selections vary, of course, in readability, pointedness, and fascination for the lay reader. Some truly moving chapters are devoted to the contributions of radically, even fanatically, original thinkers such as Margery Kempe, the late 14th- and early 15th-century English mystic who engineered a marriage that included both her earthly husband and Christ; and Mother Ann Lee (1736-1784), founder of the first Shaker community in America. Shocks abound: in one chapter the editors compare the genocidal persecution of witches (up to a million of whom were killed over five hundred years, the great majority women) to the Nazi extermination of the Jews; in another, they zero in on the ""neo-Orthodox"" male-supremacist theology of the hugely influential Karl Barth. A valuable book for readers with a stake in feminism, religion, or both.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row