Current Issue Highlights


With this issue, our editorial team provides a rich tapestry of diverse scholarship and journalism on one of the most significant and fascinating topics in the study of sacred history: women in religious history. Bringing together a robust array of some of the world's leading historians, the present issue delivers a truly inspiring odyssey, surveying many of the most prominent women in religious history. Haverford College's Maud B. McInerney immerses the reader within the enigmatic world of the twelfth century German heroine Hildegard von Bingen. Next, Claremont scholar of Women's Studies Leah R. Schulte takes us inside the world of Amish women and their counter-cultural veil wearing practice. Leading Hebrew Bible scholar Tammi Schneider continues her insightful contributions to Sacred History Magazine with her insightful perspectives on Eve, the mother of humanity in Genesis. Then, prepare for an eye-opening account of the world's most famous female evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, graciously provided by Wheaton College's Dr. Edith Blumhofer. Our own Ronald Rietveld, eminent historian and professor of religion in American history, retells the spellbinding story of Corrie ten Boom, in this first of a two-part series. Washington University scholar Richard McBride explores the little known female Buddhist saint (bodhisattva) traditions of Medieval Korea. This issue could not hope to be complete without Karen Ralls's (Oxford) breathtaking account of the French heroine Joan of Arc! One of our favorite author's Lorin Geitner returns with the fascinating story of Mary Baker Eddy. Sacred History is likewise delighted to include an article by the renowned Marian scholar Rosemary R. Ruether on the legacy and theology of Mary, mother of Jesus, through Early Christian and Catholic history. Also, do not miss Jonathan Friedmann's insightful glance at Michal in the Hebrew Bible and sacred rabbinic writings. Our own Editor-in-Chief, Dr. James Rietveld, gives us a tour of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, established in the fourth century, revealing the importance of this church in relation to the Virgin Mary. Going back yet one more century, Anne Boris retells the inspiring legend of Perpetua, Early Christian heroine and martyr. Sacred History's Christine Felton takes us to seventh century Arabia into the world of Muhammad's powerful wife, Khadija. Mark Dane delves into the Countess of Huntingdon's involvement with revivalist culture in England as well as in the Americas. And lastly, we bring back one of Sacred History's favorite scholars Harita Meenee (University of Athens, Greece) to render for us the little known religious history of women in classical Greek Olympic games.

On behalf of our authors and the talented editorial team, I cordially invite you to join us in this life changing adventure into the sacred past.



Also in the January/February Issue:

JOAN OF ARC: Heroine, heretic, and enigma
For nearly six centuries, Joan of Arc has been a source of inspiration and continuing fascination for many, even today. Catholic saint, national icon, female prophet and martyr, some of the details of the life of Joan of Arc have remained a mystery. Little is known for certain about the early life of this young illiterate country girl, one of the world's most famous military leaders and gifted mystic, as facts -- and myth -- have often been intertwined…

Aimee Semple McPherson
In some ways, McPherson was an ordinary woman with an ordinary message whose extraordinary determination and flair in a particular cultural moment struck a responsive chord with a cross-section of Americans. She did not set out to build a denomination, but the denomination that institutionalized her work flourished in the United States and abroad.

The Development of Mariology: First to Fifteenth Century
About 382 CE a Latin cleric, Helvidius, argued for the equal status of marriage and virginity based on Mary's life as both virgin and wife, who bore (to Joseph) the children referred to in the gospels as Jesus' brothers and sisters. Jerome was outraged and penned a furious rebuttal in which he argued that these brothers and sisters were actually cousins, children of a sister of Mary, also named Mary. Not only Mary, Jesus' mother, but Joseph were perpetual virgins. For Jerome, sexual marriage was radically inferior to virginity, and so it is unthinkable that these models of our faith should have been any less than perpetual virgins.

The Women's Olympics: One of the Best Kept Secrets in History!
One of the most important notions concerning the fertility of the Earth was the Hieros Gamos or Sacred Marriage, a tradition which later became linked with the union between the Moon Goddess and Sun God near the summer solstice. Both Cornford and James Frazer consider this custom as the most probable background of the Olympics. They propose that the purpose of the male games must have been to select the man who would personify the husband in a ritual union with the winner of the female races

Perpetua: Power Made Perfect in Weakness
Perpetua was a young married woman in North Africa, breast-feeding her son, when she and four other catechumens (Christians receiving instruction before baptism) were arrested for violating Emperor Septimus Severus' 202 decree against conversion to Christianity. All refused to sacrifice to the emperor and were condemned to be torn apart by wild beasts in the arena as part of the birthday celebrations of the emperor's son. Perpetua's prison diary, completed by a witness to their martyrdom, reveals her charismatic and practical leadership in her own community, and has kept her memory alive for eighteen hundred years.

Islam's First Convert
Hearing of Muhammad's reputation as an upright young man, Khadijah hired him to manage her trading business when he was twenty-two. She proposed marriage to him in 595 C.E. when he was twenty-five. Scholars dispute the age of Khadijah at the time of her marriage to Muhammad, but tradition holds that she was forty years old at the time. When Muhammad reported his visions of the angel Gabriel, Khadijah was the first to embrace him as the Prophet, making her the first convert to what is now the world's second-largest faith.

Traditional Mennonite Women, Angels, the Veil, and Paul
When we notice a traditional Mennonite family, what do we see first? The buggy or dark car? The overalls? The white of black bonnets worn by the women? Many people are especially fascinated by the women's dress, particularly the head covering. White caps with hanging ribbons are now a familiar sight to many of us, and immediately set the woman apart as a traditional Mennonite. But what lies behind this veiling practice?

Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen, abbess, poet, composer, prophetess, medical writer, and theologian, was one of the most famous women of the twelfth century…

Mary Baker Eddy, and The Church of Christ Scientist, on Trial
Public figures have been subject to public trial, based on self-interested rumor-mongering, at least since the time of Socrates. And new religious movements and their founders have always been subject to examination and, sometimes, persecution. But, in 1906, both of these, along with the relatively new phenomena of trial-by-media, were brought to bear upon a single individual and the religion she represented: Mary Baker Eddy, and the Church of Christ Scientist. In March of that year, suite was brought, in the name of Mary Baker Eddy, but on behalf of her sons George Glover and Foster Eddy and others (her putative "Next Friends") to wrest control of her estate, because of her alleged mental incompetence to manage her own affairs

Corrie Ten Boom
During those five days of war which followed, many people came to the ten Boom watchshop and Casper ten Boom was "a pillar of strength for all of them; he prayed with everyone who asked," Corrie later related. She said that "sometimes the shock of what was happening would engulf me, and while Father was bringing trust and peace to those in turmoil, I would go to the piano and play Bach. No other music gave me so much rest." But the darkest days of those five days of German occupation were still ahead…

Eve: Woman of Firsts
Eve conceives bears, says, and names. All these verbs are carried out by other mothers in Genesis. When naming her children, like Leah, Eve recognizes the role of the deity in the process. Thus Eve, as separate from the woman in the Garden, is different from the other mothers in Genesis not because of her actions but only because she is the first woman to do them.

Sacred Places: Santa Maria Maggiore
The pilgrimage church of Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest and most important shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the city of Rome. According to church lore, the first version of this church was established through the Great Lady herself, instructing Pope Liberius (352-366) to build her a church on the very spot where he found snow the next day. The only problem-it was August, a month so infamously scorching in the Eternal City that even local Romans able to afford it fled for the country or the coast. Yet, according to the story, the very next morning, Pope Liberius discovered a patch of snow on the highest point of the Esquiline hill. Declaring this event a "miracle," the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore was erected on a spot once dedicated to the goddess Cybele

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