Women as theological figures
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Women as theological figures have played a significant role in the development of various religions and religious hierarchies. The study of women and religion typically examines the role of women within particular religious faiths, and religious doctrines relating to gender, gender roles, and particular women in religious history.
- 1 Bahá'í Faith
- 2 Buddhism
- 3 Christianity
- 4 Hinduism
- 5 Islam
- 6 Jainism
- 7 Judaism
- 8 Sikhism
- 9 Daoism
- 10 Other religions
- 11 Spiritual mediums
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Bibliography
- 15 External links
Three women figure prominently in the history of the Bahá'í Faith: Táhirih, a disciple of the Báb; Ásíyih Khánum, the wife of Bahá'u'lláh; and Bahíyyih Khánum the daughter of Bahá'u'lláh. Táhirih and Bahíyyih, in particular, held strong leadership positions and are seen vital to the development of the religion.
Several women played leading roles in the early days of the Bahá'í Faith in America. Among them are: May Maxwell, Corinne True, and Martha Root. Rúhíyyih Khanum and a mix of male and female Hands of the Cause formed an interim leadership of the religion for six years prior to the formation of the Universal House of Justice. Later prominent women include Patricia Locke, Jaqueline Left Hand Bull Delahunt, Layli Miller-Muro, and Dr. Susan Maneck, who herself wrote books documenting the role of women in the Bahá'í Faith.
- Khema and Uppalavanna, the two chief female disciples of the Buddha
- Kisa Gotami
- Machig Labdrön—founder of the Tibetan practice of Chöd
- Maha Pajapati Gotami
- Pema Chodron—fully ordained Buddhist nun in the Tibetan Shambhala lineage.
- Ani Tenzin Palmo—a nun in the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and founder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India
- Yeshe Tsogyal—Tibetan consort and disciple of the Padmasambhava
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|Four major positions|
|Church and society|
|Theologians and authors|
Women prominent in the New Testament
- Mary, the Mother of Jesus
- Mary Magdalene—one of Jesus' closest followers
- Lydia and Phoebe
- Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and disciple of Jesus. (Sometimes misidentified with Mary Magdalene)
- Priscilla— teacher with her husband Aquila, partner with Apostle Paul
- Junia - female apostle of New Testament
Women prominent in the Early Christian Church
- Saints Perpetua and Felicity, important martyrs
- Saint Monica of Hippo
- Hilda of Whitby, royal abbess in the 7th century
- Kassia 9th Century Eastern Orthodox nun, poet and hymnographer. Sometimes referred to as St. Kassiani.
Women prominent in the Medieval church
- Antoinette Bourignon—a mystic
- St. Bridget of Sweden (1302–1373)
- Heloise (student of Abelard)
- Hildegard of Bingen— theologian, mystic, wrote much music (there being some recordings)
- Pope Joan - probably mythical figure.
- Julian of Norwich— a mystic
- St. Margery Kempe (c.1373–1438)
- Saint Macrina the Younger—sister and influence upon Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory of Nyssa
- St. Clare of Assisi—founded the Poor Clares
- St. Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416)
- St. Scholastica—twin sister of Benedict of Nursia
Women prominent in the Catholic church (Post-Reformation)
- Mme Guyon was influential in Quietism (Christian philosophy)
- Mother Cabrini—missionary to New York and first canonized US citizen
- Mother Teresa—founder of the Missionaries of Charity in India
- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton—founded the Sisters of Charity
- St. Faustina Kowalska—promoted devotion to Divine Mercy
- St. Katharine Drexel—founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which performed charitable works for Native Americans and African Americans
- St. Rose Philippine Duchesne—co-founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart
- St. Teresa of Avila a mystic
In 1970 three women were declared Doctor of the Church
Women prominent in Protestant Churches
- Anne Boleyn—influenced religious development in England indirectly by leading Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon and break from the Catholic Church
- Anne Hutchinson-a charismatic and outspoken Puritan in early colonial New England whose unorthodox religious views helped spark the Antinomian Controversy from 1636 to 1638
- Mary Dyer-an avid follower of the Quaker religion who became a martyr when she was hanged in Boston in 1660 for her religious activism
- Aimee Semple McPherson ("Sister Aimee") an early 20th-century evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Church
- Ann Wardley—contributed to the development of the Shakers
- Catherine Booth—cofounder of the Salvation Army
- Elizabeth Fry—Quaker and prison reformer
- Ellen G. White—co-founder and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Evangeline Booth—fourth General of the Salvation Army
- Hannah Whitall Smith—prominent leader in the Holiness movement
- Joanna Southcott—an 18th Century self-described religious prophetess and founder of Southcottians
- Li Tim-Oi The first female priest to be ordained in the Anglican Communion
- Louisa Maria Hubbard (1836–1906)—involved in the deaconess movement and published in 1871 a pamphlet: Anglican Deaconesses: is there No Place for Women in the System?
- Mother Ann Lee—leader of the Shakers in America
- Phoebe Palmer—prominent leader in the Holiness movement
- Selina, Countess of Huntingdon—was involved with Methodism and there was a group called the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection
- Mary Baker Eddy—founded Christian Science
- Jackie Pullinger MBE - contemporary missionary working with inner city gangs, and founder of St Stephen's Society in Hong Kong.
Recognition of the feminine aspect of God during the last century by Tantric and Shakti religious leaders, has led to the legitimization of the female teachers and female gurus in Hinduism. A notable example was Ramakrishna, who worshiped his wife as the embodiment of the divine feminine. 
- Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, teacher in the lineage of teachers of Siddha Yoga.
- Mata Amritanandamayi
- Mother Meera referred to as a "female guru" by author Karen Pechilis 
- Aisha bint Talha—Eminent scholar
- A'isha—Wife of Muhammad and the narrator of largest number of hadith
- Maryam-mother of Isa (Jesus)
- Amara bin Al-Rahman—Exemplary woman jurist
- Asma bint Abu Bakr—Narrator of Hadith
- Asiya- Wife of the Pharaoh, Foster mother of Mosa (Moses)
- Sara- Wife of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)
- Bilqis—Queen of Sheba
- Fatima Zahra—the youngest daughter of Muhammad and Khadijah.
- Fatimah bint Qays—Famous scholar
- Khadijah—First convert to Islam, first wife of Muhammad
- Nusaibah bint Ka'b al-Ansariyah—Famous warrior
- Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya—Important figure in the development of Sufism
- Rabia—Most important of the early Sufi poets
- Sayyida Nafisa—Scholar
- Sumayyah bint Khabbab—First martyr of Islam, seventh convert to it
- Ukhtul Mazni—Highly placed scholar of Islamic jurisprudence
- Umm Ad Darda—Expert theologian
- Umm 'Atiyyah—Scholar of Islamic jurisprudence
- Umm Salamah—Narrator of Hadith
- Umm Salim—Famous scholar
- Umrah Bint Abdu Rahman—Eminent theologian and famous scholar
- Yochebed - Mother of Musa (Moses)
- Tynnetta Muhammad - theologian of the Nation of Islam
The status of women in Jainism differs between the two main sects, Digambara and Svetambara. Jainism prohibits women from appearing naked; because of this, Digambaras, who consider renunciation of clothes essential to moksha, say that they cannot attain enlightenment in the same life. Svetambaras, who allow sadhus to wear clothes, believe that women can attain moksha. There are more Svetambara sadhvis than sadhus and women have always been influential in the Jain religion.
- Mallinath, the 19th Tirthankara; she was female according to Svetambaras (but male according to Digambaras).
- Marudevi, mother of Rishabha
- Trishala, the mother of Mahavira
There are several prominent women in the Tanakh.
- Deborah, Hebrew prophetess, fourth judge
- Esther, Jewish heroine associated with the feast of Purim
- Huldah, the prophetess who validated the scroll found in the Temple (thought by many to be the book of Deuteronomy)
- Miriam, Prophetess
- Ruth, prosleyte par excellence - better than seven sons.
- Leah, beloved of God, matriarch of some of the twelve tribes.
- Rachel, matriarch of some of the twelve tribes.
One of the Daoist Eight Immortals, Immortal Woman He, is a woman. Additionally, Sun Bu'er was a famous female Taoist master in the 12th Century. Her work "Secret Book on the Inner Elixir (as Transmitted by the Immortal Sun Bu'er)" discussed some of the particularities of female "Inner Elixir" (Neidan) cultivation. Daoist nuns usually have equal status with monks.
- Annie Besant—Theosophist influential in the Indian Independence Movement
- Madame Blavatsky—contributed to the development and promotion of theosophy
- Nakayama Miki—founder of Tenrikyo
- Nirmala Srivastava founder and self-proclaimed goddess of Sahaja Yoga
- Helen Schucman who claimed to have scribed A Course in Miracles
- Jane Roberts who claimed to have channeled Seth
- Judy Z. Knight (born Judith Darlene Hampton), who claims to have channeled Ramtha
- Alice Auma of the Holy Spirit Movement
- Blu Greenberg
- Women in Christianity
- Gender and religion
- Islamic feminism
- Jewish feminism
- Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance
- List of female mystics
- Ordination of women
- Feminist theology
- Role of women in Judaism
- Sacred prostitution
- Vestal virgin
- When God Was a Woman
- Women as imams
- Women in Muslim societies
- "Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá'í and Christian writings and their implications for gender roles". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Women in the Baha'i Faith". Planetbahai.org. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Selected Topics of Comparison in Christianity and the Baha'i Faith". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Unclipping the Wings". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "Religion & Ethics - Women in Jainism". BBC. 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- "The Role of Women - Victoria and Albert Museum". Vam.ac.uk. 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2010-11-19.
- Joan Breton Connelly Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece Princeton University Press March 2007
- Evangelisti Silvia Evangelisti Nuns: A History of Convent Life, OUP 2007
- ^ Pechilis, Karen. The Graceful Guru: Hindu Female Gurus in India and the United States ISBN 0-19-514538-0
- ^ Shattuck, Cybelle and Lewis, Nancy D. The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Hinduism (2002). ISBN 0-02-864482-4
- http://www.rhul.ac.uk/bedford-centre/history-women-religious/ being the webpage of the History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland, which has a number of entries on the links page.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Women and religion.|
- Spots of Light: Women in the Holocaust | Faith from an exhibition by Yad Vashem
- Women in Religion section of American Academy of Religion