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Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard's Theology of the Feminine / Edition 1

Burns, S. Barbara Newman reintroduces English-speaking readers to an extraordinary and gifted figure of the twelfth-century renaissance. Hildegard of Bingen was mystic and writer, musician and preacher, abbess and scientist who used symbolic theology to explore the meaning of her gender within the divine scheme of things. With a new preface, bibliography, and discography, Sister of Wisdom is a landmark book in women's studies, and it will also be welcomed by readers in religion and history.

Show more Show less. Hildegard of Bingen was an exuberantly complex visualist and thinker; Dr. Newman's book is an excellent way of being introduced to Hildegard's sapiential visuals and thought. Illustrations ix 2 Abbreviations xi 4 Preface xv 4 Preface xix 1. The Feminine Divine 42 47 Theophany and the bride of God 46 5 The mirror of providence, the virgin spring, and the tree of life 51 4 The eternal counsel 55 9 Wisdom as creatrix and anima mundi 64 7 Wisdom's vesture 71 4 The chastisements of charity 75 14 3. She also believed that beer was most wholesome and pleasing to God.

Hildegard did not shy away from confrontation. The Church of her era was rife with corruption and sexual misconduct. While many men held back from protesting, fearing the repercussions, Hildegard decided that she would take on the mantle of reformer.

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Although St. Paul had forbidden women to preach, Hildegard embarked on four preaching tours in which she delivered apocalyptic sermons to her male superiors, warning them that if they did not mend their ways, they would fall from grace and be toppled from their seats of power. In one of her most shocking visions, Ecclesia , the Mother Church, gives birth to the Antichrist because her own clergy have defiled her. Nor did Hildegard enjoy a quiet retirement. Late in her life, she and her nuns were subject to an interdict, or collective excommunication, when they refused to disinter an alleged apostate buried in their churchyard.

The interdict was only lifted a few months before Hildegard's death in She might well have died an outcast. You have neglected your duties.

Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard's Theology of the Feminine (review)

Although Hildegard was a woman of her time and not a feminist in today's sense, I believe that her legacy is hugely relevant to 21st century women. In our time as well as hers, women are pushed to the margins of established religion. The Vatican is even cracking down on Hildegard's modern counterparts, such as Margaret Farley, nun and Yale professor emeritus who, like Hildegard, wrote frankly about human sexuality.

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  • While modern women can choose to wash their hands of religion, Hildegard didn't even get to choose whether to enter monastic life -- she was thrust into an anchorage as a child. And yet her visions and strength of character allowed her to triumph over silence and submission to become one of the greatest voices of her age. In an age of deep-seated misogyny, she championed the sacred worth of women. Hildegard shows us how visionary women might transform the most male-dominated faith traditions from within.

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