Women, Power, and the Bible in Early Anabaptist History
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Keywords

Anabaptism
power
leadership
biblical hermeneutics
women’s history

How to Cite

Willgren, D. (2017). Women, Power, and the Bible in Early Anabaptist History. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership and Theology, 4. https://doi.org/10.53311/sjlt.v4.27

Abstract

The article argues that the way Anabaptist history and theology is commonly narrated needs to be reshaped. A fundamental question is asked: Did women have positions of power in the early Anabaptist movement? Two points are considered: 1) How is power understood? and 2) On what premises can the history of Anabaptist women be written? These two points are put in relation to portraits of three women – Margret Hottinger, Helene von Freyberg, and Elisabeth Dirks – who represent three fundamental ways in which women related to power and authority in the early years of the movement. The article concludes that the way the stories of early Anabaptist women have usually been told are often both highly tendentious and failing to assess the authority of women on the basis of an Anabaptist theology of power. At the same time, the early movement employed a flat biblical hermeneutic that lead to a failure to process the subversive use of power and authority and the theological potential of the Anabaptist critique of the sword in relation to their own families and communities.

https://doi.org/10.53311/sjlt.v4.27
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—. (1992b). Women, Power and History. In M. Perrot (Ed.), Writing Women’s History (pp. 160–74). Translated by F. Pheasant. Oxford: Blackwell.

Plenert, W. (1975). The Martyr’s Mirror and Anabaptist Women. Mennonite Life 30/2, 13–18.

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—. (2001b). Power in the Anabaptist Community. In B. W. Redekop & C. W. Redekop (Eds.), Power, Authority, and the Anabaptist Tradition (pp. 174–92). Center Books in Anabaptist Studies. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

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Snyder, C. A. & L. A. Huebert Hecht. (1996). Profiles of Anabaptist Women: Sixteenth Century Reforming Pioneers. Studies in Women and Religion / Études sur les femmes et la religion 3. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

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Sommers Rich, E. (2002). Mennonite Women: A Story of God’s Faithfulness 1683-1983. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

Sprunger, K. (1985). God’s Powerful Army of the Weak: Anabaptist Women of the Radical Reformation. In R. L. Greaves (Ed.), Triumph Over Silence: Women in Protestant History (pp. 45–74). Contributions to the Study of Religion 15. London: Greenwood.

van Braght, T. J. (1631). Martelaers Spiegel der Werelose Christenen t’zedert Ao 1524. Haerlem: Hans Passchiers van Wesbusch.

—. (1886). The Bloody Theatre, or, Martyrs Mirror. 3 ed. Translated by J. F. Sohm. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Publishing Company.

von Muralt, L. & W. Schmid. (Eds.). (1952). Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz. Erster Band, Zürich. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag.

Weber, M., H. H. Gerth, & C. Wright Mills. (1946). From Max Weber: Essays in Soci- ology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Williams, G. H. (1962). The Radical Reformation. Philadelphia: Westminster.

Wright, N. T. (2016). The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. San Francisco: HarperOne.

Yoder, J. H. (Ed.). (1973). The Legacy of Michael Sattler. Classics of the Radical Reformation 1. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

Yoder Nyce, D. & L. Nyce. (2001). Power and Authority in Mennonite Ecclesiology: A Feminist Perspective. In B. W. Redekop & C. W. Redekop (Eds.), Power, Authority, and the Anabaptist Tradition (pp. 155–73). Center Books in Anabaptist Studies. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

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