ABSTRACT

The nineteenth century saw a number of shifts in theological approaches to and by women, away from the medieval view of the temptress towards a notion of separate spheres, for which women and men were naturally suited and divinely ordained. This chapter follows the progress of theological ideas, and their impact on literature, education, and mission as well as Christology. The author draws on the writings of figures such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the activism of Florence Nightingale and Josephine Butler, as well as a range of novels, articles in women's devotional magazines, hymns, and missionary narratives. Initially, women are still regarded as naturally submissive, maternal, and nurturing, characteristics that should be encouraged through suitable education. Where women took more assertive roles, such as preaching, this was justified as ‘extraordinary’, vocation. There was a Christ-like role of martyrdom or suffering, which had a dual impact on women's lives, and on gendered Christology. Towards the end of the period, large numbers of women were active in mission work following the thrust of colonialization. They developed an ambivalent relationship with the theology of Empire, and the biblical imperative of global salvation, whose repercussions are still felt.