For I am not instructed in the vision to write as the learned write, and the words in the vision are not as words sounding from a human mouth, but as flashing flame and as a cloud moving in clear air.

Hildegard of Bingen, Letter to Guilbert Gembloux, Henry Osborne Taylor translation

Most writers can attest to some level of visionary experience in the crafting of a novel or the development of a writing project. It might be called inspiration. Modern women writers follow up their vision with the scholarship of research to the purpose, and Christian women dare not venture to put pen to paper apart from prayer.

But medieval women writers of devotional literature possessed precious little ability for scholarly research. They relied chiefly on prayer and a passionate love of God according to whatever religious teaching they had been allowed by the church. The writing lives of medieval women remained relegated to the noble-born classes and the convent, but their level of education was not level with the men of the time. Women submitted to the authority of men in every sphere of living.

Though they felt the deficit, few chaffed at the misapplied subjugation of women as second-class citizens. The emancipation of women and balanced interpretation of biblical principles on the subject have come a long way in the last millennium.

Even so, the controversial topic remains hotly debated . . .

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