Very interesting post. Could you possibly point to some secondary material
which discusses this? (I don't imagine any of these works by Gerson are in
translation?). I'm teaching a course on women, with the obligatory section
on mysticism, and this would be indeed valuable to me. Thanks- cecilia
On Tue, 16 Nov 1999, Wendy Love Anderson wrote:
> >> Could
> >> women prophesy as well as men?
> >Why would this have been a question when there were women, say, Miriam, who
> >prophesy in the OT?
> I may have been a little too cute in using "as well as" in two senses. It
> was never doubted that women *could* prophesy (Hulda and Anna the daughter
> of Phanuel are other Scriptural examples), but there was some concern about
> whether or not they *should,* and whether their prophecies were more
> subject to error or deception than those of men.
> Jean Gerson probably develops this theme to its greatest extent in late
> medieval writings about prophecy. His arguments in _De probatione
> spirituum_ and _De examinatione doctrinarum_ put forward just about every
> possible reason to distrust female prophets. Women, Gerson pointed out,
> are more susceptible than men to carnal impulses, demonic deception, mental
> or physical illnesses, excessive zeal, and improper relationships with a
> confessor. They are also terminally curious, and their teachings should be
> suspect until and unless they have been approved by male examiners.
> Finally, they have no business teaching their visions publically, given the
> Pauline injunction against women speaking out and claiming authority over
> men (I Timothy 2:11-12).
> In case there might be any question about the aim of these polemics, Gerson
> blames Pope Gregory XI for listening to the visions of women _sub specie
> religionibus_ and thus bringing the Church into schism in _De examinatione
> doctrinarum_. He also complains about women who call priests "son," which
> has been seen as a possible jab at Catherine of Siena. _De probatione
> spirituum_ was actually written at the Council of Constance in apparent
> response to the proposed canonization of individuals associated with
> Bridget of Sweden. (Bridget's own canonization had already been affirmed
> at Constance, but Gerson's remarks suggest that he had agreed to this
> mostly because her writings had already been disseminated and withdrawing
> them would cause scandal to the faithful.)
> On the other hand, Gerson wrote elsewhere in support of the visionary widow
> Ermine of Rheims and her better-known compatriot Joan of Arc, and he
> invoked plenty of Old Testament parallels on Joan's behalf. Obviously,
> nobody was arguing that women were incapable of divinely inspired prophecy;
> they just had to meet a much higher standard of proof -- witness how well
> Joan's prophecies went over with the Burgundians and the English!
> Wendy Love Anderson home phone: (773)924-0553
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> The University of Chicago URL: http://home.uchicago.edu/~wlanders/