THE ROLE AND IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN
1) a woman who helped from the history of the tradition or who contributed to the historical development and cultural understanding of the religious tradition; a woman who, by her life, teaching and attitude, challenged or preserved the tradition and in some cases made a significant impact on its development.
As the religious tradition developed there were significant changes taking place, meaning the need to reaffirm key teachings or the opportunity to reinterpret another
CHRISTIANITY: HILDEGARD OF BINGEN
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– one of the greatest & most original thinkers of medieval Europe. Her life, teachings & attitude, helped shape Christianity making a significant contribution & challenging/preserving traditions.
– Performed a number of significant roles including abbess, scientist, leading medieval authority, musician, prolific composer, artist, visionary, high profile political and religious figure
– an abbess who contributed to Christian wisdom in relation to creation
– a scientist, renowned in Europe for her herbals, medical reference books & scientific treatises
– a visionary who was one of the greatest most original thinkers of medieval Europe and helped the evolution of monasteries towards education, care of the poor and evangelism
– a high profile political and religious figure who maintained correspondence with other leading medieval thinkers and became very involved in state and church issues
– helped set up the scene for the 13th-century reforms in the western church
– Lived in an era where the dominant culture of the church was patriarchal, and anything that threatened the hierarchy was put down, hidden or ignored
– Referred to as a ‘renaissance woman several centuries before the renaissance’
– Interests and accomplishments in science, music, theology, painting, medicine and healing, commentaries, and prophecy and social justice and encouraged women with these gifts
– Educated by a recluse called Juta, a nun at 15, received visions and revelations (contained in the aforementioned scivias She took over as head of the convent which was not conventional as wore colourful silk dresses and wore jewellery. Which did not seem worried by sin
– The monks interfered and tried to prevent the nuns from writing and conversing with people who came to them for guidance
– Spoke about the abuse of power observed among the clergy attacked the fearsome emperor Frederick Barbarossa and encouraged other nuns to write and criticize.
– Book of Divine works attacked anthropocentrism (human centre universe) as wanted readers to have feelings and celebrate the wonders of the world
– Threw society of her time into turmoil as the convent became the centre of great change
– Her books were banned and burnt. Recently rediscovered became the focal point of change
– Was a prophetess with the ability to speak to all classes and walks of life, challenging people to reform their lives and pay attention to the prophecies and divine warnings revealed to her.
– View that mystical contemplation is available to all who attempt to reform their lives and allow themselves to be set afire by the Holy Spirit.
– Helped unite the “holy spirit” of art, science & religion to spread god’s word more effectively
– Embarked on extensive preaching and missionary journeys (speaking in cathedrals urging people to holiness and condemning corruption)
– her conviction that her life was set in a prophetic mould (insights directly from god) and to be shared with all ensured her high status
– challenged gender roles set in medieval times (the way she acted/treated ppl varying social ranks) and the culture that women were secondary/regulated to the submissive roles of wives/mothers
– Strove to improve the rights and conditions of women (eg fought against discrimination)
– Supported by Pope Eugenius 111 became a counsellor to and corresponded with popes, kings and emperors but was gifted in cosmology, medicine, poetry, music and possibly art.
b) JUDAISM: BERUIAH
– second-century Talmudic scholar, highly respected outstanding woman, deeply compassionate wife of famous sage rabbi Meir her life and teachings challenged and preserved the Jewish tradition in many ways.(lived in a terrible time for Jews)
– her life was tragic/hardships as Romans killed her father, her sister was forced into prostitution, and brother killed by robbers and her two sons died one Shabbat afternoon.
– Accepted for her work and her kind attributes, despite her gender admired by scholars
– She emphasized the reading of a passage in context before any interpretation should be given and to “look to the end of a verse” as a guide (eg of her wise scripture interpretation which became an axiom for later authorities)
– Cautioned against making a quick judgement that might lead to a wrong conclusion
– Famous story of the death of her two sons. She was concerned it disturbing her husband so said “ I was given some precious jewels to look after & now the owner wants them back should I return them?” He answered yes then she showed him the bodies and said “the Lord has given. The lord has taken away” (eg of her wisdom to break news gently)
– She advised her angry husband to “pray for the end of evil in people, rather than for their death” (eg of how she was more aware of the concept of forgiveness)
– Her major importance today is that she was a rare female scholar in the male-dominated Rabbinic culture
– Her extraordinary mind and depth of learning helped sustain the Jewish people as they made the transition from Jerusalem-based to the diaspora -Torah based Judaism
– Act as a model for women who wish to explore theology and the bible as it relates to women
– Was well educated as could understand Torah/Talmud
– Through reading and studying she acquired an incredible amount of knowledge and engaged in discussion with the scholars of the academy
– Her brilliance lay in her ability to fire off incisive barks when Rabbi Yose asked “by which road should we travel in order to reach Lydda?” she replied “Galilean fool. Did not the rabbi say ‘talk not overmuch women?’ you should have asked: ’how to Lydda?” (eg of her whit to put men in their place)
– Was highly respected for her scholarly pursuits, became a model for Jewish students as she was strong, intelligent brave and optimistic
– Assured her place in history through her thoughtful interpretations of the religious writings of her time which influence scholars today
– There has been an increasing amount of biblical study done in event years from the perspective of women
– Over 2000 male rabbi mentioned in Talmud but she is the only female
– Become a heroine to religious Jewish feminists status rising as schools & babies named after her
– Influence today as ppl look back to gain inspiration and guidance
– Guided students in their study
– So wise and intelligent that she vies are considered over that of men
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