cover image Feminism and World Religions

Feminism and World Religions

. State University of New York Press, $26.95 (333pp) ISBN 978-0-7914-4024-7

Until very recently, women have been invisible workers in the world's religions. Feminist critiques of religion, however, have begun to question centuries of perceived religious marginalization of women. Sharma (Women in World Religions) and Young (coauthor of Hindu Ethics) compile essays by leading feminist scholars that examine ways that such critiques are changing the roles of women in seven world religions. Each scholar explores the impact of feminism on her own religious tradition. For example, Ellen Umansky, who teaches Judaic Studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut, traces the history of women's roles in the three major denominations of Judaism and demonstrates that slowly over the years women's religious roles have shifted from the home to the temple and the rabbinate. In a fascinating essay, University of Florida religion professor Vasudha Narayanan examines Hindu goddesses and the rituals surrounding their worship to show how such rituals give women new power in a rigidly hierarchical system. Other scholars explore Buddhism (Rita Gross), Confucianism (Terry Woo), Taoism (Karen Laughlin and Eva Wong), Christianity (Rosemary Radford Ruether) and Islam (Riffat Hassan). Because of its completeness, this book offers an excellent introduction to the study of women in world religions. (Jan.)