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Her Image of Salvation: Female Saviors and Formative Christianity.

The twofold topic of this book is the image of the savior and the experience of salvation. Corrington is aware of the extent to which images shape human reality and of how little of Judeo-Christian imagery represents women's experience. The Introduction presents the basic problem of texts that envisage God almost exclusively as male and often understand woman bodily in a way that "predisposes [her] particularly to limitation, imperfection, and disobedience" (27). Woman is, therefore, unlikely to provide metaphors for imaging the divine, and she was sometimes expected to become "male" in order to be saved (23-25, 32-33). C. asks whether the historical development that "neither the savior nor the saved could be seen as female" (34) is the last word on the subject. She tries to show that it is not.

Chapter 1 reviews OT redeemer (go'el) material and then considers biblical and Greco-Roman saviors. Women are rare here, and the occasional images of female saviors (notably Wisdom) tend to be brought under masculine control (as the preserve of sages or repersonalized as Logos). Recurrent fear of female sexuality leads to its strict social regulation and, generally, salvific activity involving women is restricted to subterfuge and wise counsel.

Each subsequent chapter deals with a female "savior figure": Isis, Wisdom, and Mary. Isis, depicted as a universal savior, did provide a model for women, although not as a specific individual whom one could follow. (For C., this is not necessarily problematic.) C.'s treatment of Wisdom and of Mary uses canonical and extracanonical (mostly Gnostic) sources; despite their imaginative possibilities, they do not provide satisfactory female saviors. All things considered, it would be highly surprising if they did. Nevertheless, the question how women are saved needs to be answered, and studies like this help to clear the ground.
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Author:McDonald, Patricia M.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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