New Directions in Feminist Psychology of Religion: An Introduction

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1997


Indiana University Press


In the fourth-century Gnostic text the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is asked by a disciple to send Mary away: "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of the Life." But the Gnostic Jesus offers a solution to his disciple's misogynist demand: "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."' This brief textual interchange captures a set of gendered cultural tensions that plague the twentieth century just as they plagued the fourth. These tensions cluster around the accusation of female inferiority, the demand for the exclusion of women, and the proposal for the transformation of the female into the male. In recent years feminist scholars in the psychology of religion have initiated critiques of the patterns undergirding historical and contem porary structures excluding women from aspects of what the Gnostic text called "the Life" and urging the transformation of women into men. The work of such feminist scholars has exposed a gendered unconscious, deeply embedded in culture and psyche and still highly influential in shaping our lives and institutions