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Book Review

Hans Küng

Women in Christianity

ISBN 0-8264-5686-3
Continuum, London, 2001, £14.99

(price at publication of review)

 

And

 

Tina Beattie
Eve's Pilgrimage

A Woman's Quest for the City of God
ISBN 0-8601-2323-5
Burns Oates, London, 2002, £9.99

(price at publication of review)

Reviewed January 2003; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002

These two books are on the same essential theme: the place of women in Christianity. Their approach is so different that it may be worth considering them together. Both writers, one a man and the other a woman, have essentially the same picture of the future to be desired. The man approaches it objectively, with a historical study of the way in which women's roles have developed. Women in the earliest Christianity, in the early Church, in the Middle Ages, at the time of the Reformation, and in Modernity and Postmodernity are all covered.

The woman approaches it subjectively, in terms of a pilgrimage to Rome, and by means of images, which speak powerfully of the essential elements of life, and of the varying approaches by men and women. She goes round some of the sights of Rome, almost all the churches, and looks at the building or the art works there. They suggest many reflections, but all come back to something relevant to her main theme.

Both  writers would like to see a less hierarchical attitude in the Church, and both link this with the feminine aspect in us. Both write of violence and the struggle for supremacy. The fact the man writes in such a methodical way means that he covers factually much more history and in a different way. The woman explains at the beginning the way in which her own pilgrimage has been expanded into that of Eve and her approach is much more involved, though this is not to suggest that Hans Küng is detached. He clearly has felt strongly on the matter for some time. If proof is needed that women and men are complementary in their contributions, perhaps these books taken together will serve as proof they have different goods to offer.

Gillian Clare OSC

 

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