Arcangela Tarabotti, a seventeenth-century Venetian nun, forced into a Benedictine convent against her will, wrote a protest against the involuntary monastic enclosure of women entitled Paternal Tyranny. In what may be the earliest extant example of a woman‘s exegesis of Judges 11, Tarabotti argues that the tragic sacrifice of Jephthah‘s daughter was less violent than imprisoning women in convents for their entire lives.
Schroeder argues that the earliest martyrdom accounts sensitively acknowledged the sexual assault of Christian martyrs. Later accounts, written after persecution had ceased, stressed the inviolability of the virgin martyr, who remained passive and was protected by Christ, her jealous bridegroom. Thus the literary virgin martyr who was truly faithful could not be raped against her will.
Studies the ways Christians have read six biblical narratives about sexual violence, using biblical commentary, homilies, and devotional writings as a window into the history of the church’s attitudes about rape. Schroeder analyzes the patterns of Christian interpretation, from the early church through the Reformation, and shows that traditions of interpretation are often more disturbing and horrifying than the texts themselves.
Schroeder examines the biblical and Greco-Roman background for John of Patmos‘s vision of a woman clothed with the sun, crowned with twelve stars, standing on the moon in Revelation 12. Appropriating elements of pagan imagery, John of Patmos argues that Israel, not the goddesses of Greco-Roman mythology, is the true queen of heaven.
Schroeder examines the writings of medieval women who characterize the devil as a violent misogynist. Schroeder argues that violence against male or female bodies is an attack by the Evil One. The doctrine of the resurrection is God‘s affirmation of the goodness of the human body and a promise of healing in this life and at the bodily resurrection.
Using the writings of medieval women who were devoted to the Eucharist, Schroeder urges contemporary Lutherans to embrace an incarnational Eucharistic theology that affirms the goodness of the body.
In their treatment of the horrific story of the rape of the Levite’s concubine by the men of Gibeah, Reformation-era commentators said that the “natural” rape of the woman was preferable to the “unnatural” rape of her husband, who had been threatened by the townsmen. Several Protestant writers claimed that her gang rape and death was divinely ordained justice for adultery against her husband.
Examining the writings of two medieval German women and a nineteenth-century African-American Shaker preacher, Schroeder explores women‘s use of the biblical figure of Wisdom to authorize female writing and preaching.
Italian Franciscan tertiary Angela of Foligno (c. 1248-1309) reported several visionary experiences on the February 2 Feast of the Purification. Schroeder argues that Angela used the story of Virgin Mary‘s presentation of her child Jesus in the temple as a metaphor for Angela‘s offering of herself and her spiritual sons (Franciscan priests) to the deity.
Schroeder shows how Hildegard‘s theological writings about the Holy Spirit were well-integrated with her scientific theories about the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) and medieval thoughts about the bodily “humors.” The Holy Spirit is described as having—and providing to faithful Christians—the propitious qualities associated with the right combination of air, fire, and water.