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Friday, February 24, 2017

Sister of Wisdom - Barbara Newman

Hildegard of Bingen's works have been translated into many languages and interpreted in many different ways. In this book, Newman focuses on the feminine both divine and human to bring about a better understanding of this particular aspect in Hildegard's theology.

In order to provide better understanding and context, Newman begins chapter one, A Poor Little Female, with a brief biography of Hildegard, a survey of her works, and an explanation of the difficulty of delivering her message in the cultural climate.

Each of the following chapters focus on a particular topic. The Feminine Divine explores her ideas of theophany, counsel, creation, wisdom, and charity. The Woman and the Serpent explores womans' reflection of God, her creation by Adam's rib, and her
responsibility in the fall of mankind. Daughters of Eve talks about sex, fertility, and healing. The Mother of God discusses Mary, the atonement, and the ideal role of women. The Bride of Christ is about the Church's place in the kingdom of heaven. The final chapter, Sister of Wisdom serves as a recap of the content within the book and also contains final conclusions on Hildegard's feminine theology.

Although Newman does a splendid job quoting Hildegard's work, a familiarity with the full context of the works these quotes came from would aid the reader. There is a similar issue with the cultural climate. A base knowledge of medicine, Vatican law, and political occurrences of her time will help put Hildegard's ideas into context. The content is detailed and well-explained. For those interested in this specific part of Hildegard's theology I would definitely recommend this text.

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