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Equal at the Creation

Equal at the Creation: Sexism, Society, and Christian Thought

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Equal at the Creation
    Book Description:

    As an unabashedly sexist institution that has long been rooted in patriarchal ideals, the Christian church has few . Written by recognized experts in church history, the articles in this book take a close look at women?s status in key periods.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7452-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Gender Roles in Family and Culture: The Basis of Sexism in Religion
    (pp. 3-24)

    Every human culture has treated men and women differently. This was true, as far as we can tell, in prehistoric societies, and we have records showing that it has always been true in the civilizations that have preceded ours. It is also the case in every society and in every culture in the world today, whether that culture be tribal, nomadic, sedentary, agricultural, industrial, or postindustrial. Differential treatment of men and women according to their sex appears to be endemic to the human condition.

    The differentiation of gender roles does not always favour one sex over another, however. The dominant...

  5. 2 Gender in the Origins of Christianity: Jewish Hopes and Imperial Exigencies
    (pp. 25-48)

    Retrieving the story of Christian beginnings has always been a deeply political act. For most of the history of scholarship, the politics of this retrieval has been hidden. But in the last thirty years, widespread changes in theories of historical scholarship, the growth of feminism, and the emergence of political theologies have made it easier to see the ways in which sexual and imperial politics formed both the origins of Christianity and the explanations of those beginnings by later Christians and by historical investigators.

    This chapter argues that Jewish hopes of a new and transformed world made the movement begun...

  6. 3 The Aesthetics of Paradise: Images of Women in Christian Antiquity
    (pp. 49-69)

    The aim of this chapter is to discuss images of women in Christian antiquity, the period in history that begins immediately after the composition of the New Testament – the four canonical gospels and probably all but a few of the epistles and other writings. Though some books of the New Testament may have been written during the second century, ad 100 is a convenient starting point. Christian antiquity ends with the beginning of the Middle Ages, which is also difficult to pinpoint. Gregory the Great is a transitional figure, and his death in ad 604 may be considered the...

  7. 4 Excluded by the Logic of Control: Women in Medieval Society and Scholastic Theology
    (pp. 70-95)

    Even as Constantine was legitimizing Christianity in the Roman empire, forces were at work that eventually transformed the Mediterranean world, brought an end to Roman political dominance, and reshaped the goals and the structure of the church itself. Vast movements of peoples and a great shift in political and military power forced Christian leaders to pay attention to the new inhabitants of Europe. Once again, the church had to focus its energies on the evangelization of pagans, but this time in a new cultural context. Such changes affected the situation of women and the church′s attitude towards them.

    In the...

  8. 5 Ave Virginia, Regina Terrӕ: The Power of Culture and the Culture of Power in Renaissance England
    (pp. 96-113)

    The title of this chapter reflects an academic game I have played with comparative-religion students. By the time I have them to the seventeenth century of our era, they have learned about Alexander and Alexandria, Constantine and Constantinople, and they are now getting to James and Jamestown. But for whom, I ask, is Virginia named? The answers I get are mixed, but never yet have I had the correct one: Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, whose forty-five year reign, from 1558 to 1603, was one of the longest and most momentous in English history.¹ During this era, Shakespeare began writing,...

  9. 6 Separation of the Sexes: The Development of Gender Roles in Modern Catholicism
    (pp. 114-128)

    All academic disciplines, including history and theology, have traditionally viewed women from an androcentric perspective as subordinate and auxiliary to men. The emergence of women′s history and gender studies is shifting the focus from the study of dominant males to a much wider study of the everyday lives of men and women. Women are presented as subjects of history, active and creative agents in society. The focus in this chapter is not on exceptional women, but on how Catholic women from different classes lived their lives in families and in religious orders or congregations.¹

    How did the Catholic church′s position...

  10. 7 Towards a Single Anthropology: Developments in Modern Protestantism
    (pp. 129-142)

    As all of Christianity, Protestantism has inherited a tradition of religious thought and practise that bears the scars of androcentrism. In Protestantism, however, this androcentricity has been relieved by the gradual evolution of a single anthropology. At least in theory, many branches of Protestantism are in the process of healing the dualistic anthropology that they inherited from earlier Christian centuries and that separated men and women into rigidly distinct spheres, which in turn were placed in hierarchical relation to each other, with the female realm inferior. The Protestant reformers, though obviously patriarchal in their worldview, introduced ideas that opened up...

  11. 8 Catholics and Protestants, Conservatives and Liberals: Christian Marriage Today
    (pp. 143-162)

    In twentieth-century North America the changing social climate has greatly affected marriage and the family. In recent decades especially, attitudes have altered and practices have diverged from what was earlier regarded as acceptable and normal. Many factors have contributed to these changes and differences – the two world wars, the communication explosion, the availability of contraceptive technology, and the cultural shift from family to individual values, to name but a few. No one factor by itself transformed North American society, but together they altered the social mores of millions of people. It goes without saying then that they also reshaped...

  12. 9 Weaving New Cloth: Overcoming Sexism in Ordination Policies
    (pp. 163-180)

    Most major Christian denominations in North America have recently witnessed a phenomenal transposition of women into the status of clergy, adding new texture to the fabric of Protestantism, which earlier had seen women in the leadership of smaller churches and pentecostal denominations. At the same time, insistent voices in the Catholic church are calling for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the diaconate. Though this movement has thus far been denied official approbation, Catholics are already reaping the benefits of the enriching ministries of women, as pastoral associates and parish life coordinators perform many of the functions of...

  13. 10 Understanding the Dynamics of Gender Roles: Towards the Abolition of Sexism in Christianity
    (pp. 181-202)

    As was noted in the first chapter of this book, gender roles are appropriate and nondiscriminatory if they are based on sex-related physical attributes (such as the ability to father or mother offspring) and if they result in a balance of status and power between males and females (that is, the gender roles of one group do not automatically give it higher status or more power than the other group). In a just society, any other distribution of gender roles is inappropriate and discriminatory, that is, unfair and unjust. Today, the unjust assignment of higher-status and higher-power roles to one...

  14. Afterword
    (pp. 203-206)

    As promised in the Preface, this book is not so much a thorough history of sexism in Christianity as a series of historical essays, each one offering a certain window through which to view a succession of periods. We wrote the Preface after the authors were contacted but before the chapters were written – that is, when the plan of the book was clear but the final products were not yet in hand. Perhaps something more needs to be said at this point, now that the writers have finished writing, the editors have finished editing, and the reader has finished...

  15. Contributors
    (pp. 207-207)