Women are at the center of a number of books slated for late 2022 and early 2023. Challenging historical narratives, cultural assumptions, and religious practices of various religions that have sidelined women, these books are asking big questions about women’s roles in an effort to start new conversations about equality, inclusion, and shared space within religious communities.

Women and the Gender of God (Eerdmans, out now) is the first of several new titles with a provocative contention: the assumption that God is male is demonstrably incorrect. Author Amy Peeler, who is associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and associate rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Geneva, Ill., “shows how the Bible depicts a God beyond gender and a savior who, while embodied as a man, is the unification in one person of the image of God that resides in both male and female,” according to the publisher.

Women’s Mosque of America: Authority and Community in U.S. Islam, out now from NYU Press, looks at unique ways women are asserting themselves in the American Muslim community through Women’s Mosque of America, a multiracial women-only mosque in Los Angeles, the first of its kind in the U.S. Author Tazeen Ali, an assistant professor of religion and politics at Washington University in St. Louis, explores this congregation, which has served Muslim women since 2015, by analyzing sermons and interviewing community members who draw on Black feminist and womanist philosophy to “contest established patriarchal norms” within Islam, according to the publisher.

“Ali’s work offers an engaging account of the phenomenon of woman-led mosques that have been emerging across North America and Europe,” says senior editor at NYU Jennifer Hammer. “It showcases American Muslim women’s deep engagements with their religious tradition.”

Womanist thought, which is a Black-centered approach to feminism, is also the focus of Walking Through the Valley: Womanist Explorations in the Spirit of Katie Geneva Cannon, due from Westminster John Knox in November. Ethicists Emilie M. Townes, Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Alison P. Gise-Johnson, and Angela D. Sims collaborated on the volume, which explores the work of Katie Geneva Cannon (1950–2018), a theologian and the founder of womanist ethics.

“Cannon remains deeply influential on these writers and others because the intersecting injustices she described so clearly are more prevalent now than ever,” says Robert Ratcliff, editor-in-chief at WJK. “Readers will find critical diagnoses of what ails our society, accompanied by joyful visions of a world made new under the reign of the God of justice.”

Finding Phoebe: What New Testament Women Were Really Like, due from Eerdmans in January 2023, reaches back into biblical history to look at the leadership and prophetic roles of women in the New Testament, including Phoebe, whose work as a helper to the apostle Paul is described in the Book of Romans. Author Susan E. Hylen, a professor of New Testament at Emory University and a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church, “effectively cuts through the misinformation to paint a realistic portrait of the varied real lives of Jewish, Greek, and Roman women in the first century CE,” says editor Trevor Thompson.

From IVP, Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church (Mar. 2023), by New Testament scholar Nijay K. Gupta, focuses on what the publisher calls “ample evidence” in the New Testament that women were “respected leaders at the frontier of the gospel ministry.” The book brings women such as Junia, Nympha, Phoebe, and Prisca “out of the shadows by shining light on their many inspiring contributions to the planting, growth, and health of the first Christian churches,” according to the publisher.

Jon Boyd, associate publisher and academic editorial director at IVP, predicts the book will fill a longstanding knowledge gap about the women of the New Testament. There is modern-day payoff for learning about the real lives of early Christian women in the Bible, according to Boyd: “It quickens our imagination for how women and men could work better together in our own age.”

Return to the main feature.