This is a book by women about women in the religions of
the world. It presents all the basic facts and ideological issues
concerning the position of women in the major religious traditions of humanity: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism,
Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, and tribal religions.
A special feature of the book is its phenomenological
approach, wherein scholars examine sacred textual materials.
Each contributor not only studies her religion from within,
but also studies it from her own feminine perspective. Each is
an adept historian of religions, who grounds her analysis in
publicly verifiable facts. The book strikes a delicate balance
between hard fact and delicate perception, in the best
tradition of phenomenology and the history of religions. It
also demonstrates how much religions may vary over time.
Contributors are Katherine K. Young, Associate Professor
of Religious Studies at McGill University; Nancy Schuster
Barnes, whose Ph.D. is in Sanskrit and Indian Studies; M.
Theresa Kelleher, Assistant Professor of Religion and Asian
Studies at Manhattanville College; Barbara Reed, Assistant
Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College; Denise L. Carmody,
Professor and Chair, Department of Religion, The University
of Tulsa. Also Jane !. Smith, Associate Dean for Academic
Affairs and Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity
School; Rosemary Radford Ruether, Georgia Harkness
Professor of Applied Theology at the Garrett-Evangelical
Theological Seminary; Rita M. Gross, Associate Professor of
Comparative Religions at the University of Wisconsin,
This book has been edited by me, but it has been written by others.
My attitude to it is marked by the satisfaction one might feel at the
birth of a brain child after a gestation period of several years; my attitude to its contributors is marked by silent gratitude on account of the
deficiency of language which affects the grateful.
An enterprise such as this can only succeed with the help of many,
too numerous to mention. Yet, even at the risk of appearing invidious, I
must gratefully acknowledge the following for their interest in the
project and their optimism regarding its eventual completion: Alaka
Hejib, formerly of McGill; Diana Paul of Stanford; Nancy Falk of West-
ern Michigan University-Kalamazoo; Julia Ching of Toronto; Priscilla
Ching Chung and Cynthia Y. Ning of Hawaii; Chun-Fang Yu of
Rutgers; Katie Carlitz of Pittsburg; Irene Bloom of Columbia; Ellen
Ch’en of St. John's University; Judith Plaskow of Manhattan College;
Judith A. Berling of Indiana University; Sheila McDonough and Lynn
Teskey of Concordia, and Cornelia Dimmitt of Georgetown University.
This book represents the application of the phenomenological
stance, with its respect for the insider's view, to the study of women in
world religions. That a man should put together a book written by
women scholars is potentially male chauvinistic; that none of the
women scholars should have even raised an eyebrow is proof that the
academia is concerned not with the gender but with what is
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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