I haved decided to start a weekly series here at Cataclysmic titled ‘Frauen Fridays’. I am working on my German (slowly but surely!) so I opted for ‘Frauen Fridays’ instead of ‘Women Wednesdays’… alliteration being a must. Alas, this is the best I could come up with so far, forgive me! 🙂 Each week I will introduce a woman who is a theologian, biblical scholar, and/or other prominent figure in the Christian church or academy.
Why Frauen Fridays? Well, as I said on Twitter last week, this is more for my benefit than anyone else. I simply want to know more female scholars. I remember being an undergraduate Christianity and Biblical Languages major wondering if there were any women at all working in these fields. Even after starting my MA in Biblical Languages I could only name a handful of women in the Christian academy and had read very few books by female scholars.
The thing is–and this is important–it wasn’t for lack of women scholars! I just didn’t know who they were. This was partly due (I think) to the academic setting I was in. In my 10 years at my current school I have not once had a female professor for theology or language class… the only exception being the Christian worship and music class I took as a sophomore which was co-taught by one of the music teachers. I think of all the textbooks I had for classes only two were authored by women (both biblical languages scholars). This has long been a personal frustration for me as I have desperately desired female role models to learn from, and to know that my hopes and dreams of becoming a professor were actually realistic goals… to know that I, and the other female students with academic ambitions, were not alone. It could be done, right?
I was also struggling to fit into a complementarian mold for much of this time. I wasn’t as worried about reading female scholars… theology was the responsibility (read privilege!) of men, after all. So where did one go to learn about theology? Men. (Usually the old, dead guys… how happy I was to eventually learn that there were old, dead gals, too!)
Having since embraced the freedom of egalitarianism/mutuality and Christian feminism–because yes, for me I am certain this is God-given freedom–I have been more intentional of reading and learning about women in theology and biblical studies. And I’m happy to say that, although there are still no women teaching theology or biblical languages at my school (though I do have the privilege of subbing for my profs every once in a while!) (edit: my horrible mistake, there actually is a really awesome women who is co-teaching one of the theology classes this semester… I forgot they were offering this particular class so that’s my mistake), there are several women teaching in the School of Christian Thought, specifically within the apologetics department. Furthermore, from my own experience, my professors have been nothing but encouraging in my academic pursuits. I am certain that my profs, both comps and egals alike, have played a formative role in who I am today as a young (cruciform Christian feminist) scholar. I’ve also learned about more female scholars through my classes.
It seems to me, however, that it is still a rare or somewhat odd thing to be a feminist at my university… but I supposed I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post! 🙂
Back to the topic at hand. There have been, are, and will continue to be some amazing women doing great work in theology, biblical studies, biblical languages, and the church. I want to get to know more of them and I want to get more people to know them. So, every Friday will be Frauen Friday and will feature women from the Christian academy, church history, all across the theological spectrum, and probably some from non-academic backgrounds (in the technical sense).
First up is Mercy Amba Oduyoye, an African womanist theologian, followed by Beverly Roberts Gaventa, currently a professor at Baylor and one of the key note speakers at HBU’s theology conference next month (I’m currently reading her book Our Mother Saint Paul). And three weeks from now, since we will be in the season of Lent, I’m planning on featuring one/some of the Desert Mothers. Stayed tuned!
I’m looking forward to learning as well as raising awareness. If you have any recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments section. What is your experience? Have you always been familiar with female scholars? Is this a localized phenomenon or a widespread epidemic?