WWJD? - Not Exclude Women in the Church - or Anyone Else

A Selected Annotated Bibliography

Essential and Preliminary
  1. Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy by Eva Catafygiotu Topping. The online edition has the full text of the original version and has free downloadable versionsavailable. The hard copy of this book is out of print.
  2. Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice by Jack Holland. Jack Holland’s objective is to find an explanation of the severe abuse and oppression of the female half the world's population by the other half, through human history and on a global scale. Mr. Holland minces no words in revealing the ineffable amount and degree of misogyny, along with its roots, that has, still today, resulted in the brutal and, at best, unequal treatment of women. It is a great eye-opener.
  3. When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity by Karen Jo Torjesen. “Brilliantly lays bare the historic roots of the church’s prejudice against women. A powerful, revealing, insightful book.” Rt. Rev. John S. Spong, Bishop of Newark. Karen Jo Torjesen, Ph.D., is the Margo L. Goldsmith Chair of Women's Studies and Religion at Claremont Graduate School in California, and an associate of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity. She is a practicing Roman Catholic and is widely regarded as a leading authority on women in ancient Christianity.
  4. Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. This book debunks the biblical “proof-texts” taken out of context and used by misogynists to “justify” the inequality and subordination of women.
  5. What Paul Really Said About Women by John Temple Bristow. From the inside front cover of the book: “In this engaging and easy-to-read study, John Bristow challenges the traditional (from a patriarchal viewpoint) understanding of St. Paul’s epistles and offers solid evidence that Paul not only championed equality both in the Church and in the home, but proposed a radical new model for marriage.”

Deal with Different Topics, the New Age Movement and the Occult, and The Holy Light—But Are Essential

  1. Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Fr. (St.) Seraphim Rose. This is the definitive work on the Orthodox understanding of the New Age Movement and its impact on especially the Eastern Orthodox Church. Seraphim Rose spent many years seeking spiritual truth in many different religions and in the New Age Movement, which seeks to mix all religions together (“the religion of the future”) to make one world religion. Unlike so many New Agers who have “converted” into the Orthodox Church, Rose truly left his New Age mentality behind. New Agers are very deceptive and have been described as chameleons, because they take on the persona expected of them wherever they are, so they are perceived to be truly Orthodox, but in truth still embrace their New Age acceptance of all religions. It is the severe ignorance of Orthodox clergy and laity alike that have permitted them to so successfully infiltrate the Orthodox Church. This book bares every aspect of the New Age Movement and related topics and is a must for any serious Orthodox Christian.
  2. Confronting the Devil, Magic & the Occult by Archimandrite Vassilios Bakoyiannis. The author explains the wrongness of such demonically based phenomena as the “Evil Eye,” superstition, mediums, black and white magic, astrology, “miracles” from a demonic source, fortune-telling, etc. and the spiritual weapons against them. Translated from the Greek.
  3. I Saw the Holy Light by Archim. Savva Achilleos. “The adventurous true story of a young man that walked hundreds of miles to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. There he was given the job of guarding the Holy Sepulchre, site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus Christ. On the day preceding Easter, he climbed and hid on a ledge inside the small tomb. Hidden from sight, his intention was to debunk or confirm the mysterious light that is reported to appear each Easter, miraculously lighting the candles of the faithful. What he witnessed is phenomenal. This is a fabulous little book, a quick read, recommended to all Christians seeking confirmation of the divine.” Reviewed by Pierian on March 31, 2013 on Amazon.comNote: On You-Tube you can put in “the Holy Fire” (or “the Holy Fire”+Jerusalem) and watch videos of it.

Good References

  1. Malleus Maleficarum (Witches Hammer) by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. This is the English translation of the original Latin. It was a manual written during the Inquisition by two Jesuit monks, who were Inquisitors (witch hunters), that served as a justification and guide for determining who (mostly women) were witches (in league with the devil) and what their punishments should be, often torture and death.
  2. All of the Women of the Bible by Edith Deen. This book gives informative biographical perspective on every female person mentioned in the Bible, from saints to sinners to the unnamed. Scriptural reference is given for each person and an important fact about her preceding the bibliographic entry.
  3. Matrology: A Bibliography of Writings by Christian Women from the First to Fifteenth Centuries by Andrew Kadel. Note: Be sure to read the “Introduction.”
  4. Biblical Affirmations of Woman by Leonard Swidler. Swidler quotes in full and in context all biblical references to women and addresses more than 300 topics dealing with women and the Bible. This work is a commentary and is referenced by many other authors, such as Eva C. Topping.

Women of the New Testament

  1. The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia by Rena Pederson. Junia, wife of Andronicus, is identified by Paul as his relative and as an apostle (Nympha is another woman identified as an apostle.)—Remember also that the Church from very early times has recognized Mary Magdalene as “the Apostle to the Apostles” and Protomartyr Thekla as “Equal-to-the-Apostles". Yet attempts have been made by misogynists who are unable to accept that a woman could have been an apostle to try to twist the name of Junia to claim it as a masculine form of the name. This book debunks this untruth.
  2. Women, Class and Society in Early Christianity: Models from Luke – Acts by James William Arlandson. The author moves beyond the historical tendency to view the women of the New Testament times as basically all alike to their individual and sub-group differences according to their stations in life.

Women in the Early Church

  1. A Woman’s Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity by Caroline Osiek, Margaret Y. McDonald, with Janet H. Tulloch. Before the Christian Church became a legal public institution in the fourth century, Christians met in people’s homes to worship. Because the home was “private” space and therefore the space of women, they were able to take some leadership roles in Church activity. Because public space was designated as male space, when the Church became a public institution (in male space), women’s opportunities for participation in the Church became more and more restricted. This book details the lives of Christian women during the house church centuries of the early Church.
  2. Women Officeholders in Early Christianity: Epigraphical and Literary Studies by Ute E. Elsen. This book is a scholarly investigation of the evidence that women held offices of authority in the first centuries of Christianity. Topics include apostles, prophets, theological teachers, presbyters, enrolled widows, deacons, bishops and oikoumene.
  3. The Female Diaconate: An Historical Perspective by Matushka (Russian Orthodox priest's wife) Ellen Gvosdev. This book offers historical information, including prayers from the ancient service of the ordination of deaconesses; however, its limitation is that the author advocates reinstatement of the order of deaconesses—but as a separate and subordinate (to the male diaconate) order, rather than simply opening the diaconate equally to both men and women.
  4. Deaconesses: An Historical Study by Aime Georges Martimort. Quoted from the author: “My first aim is to present in as complete and objective fashion as possible the history of deaconesses in their various concrete manifestations in history. It is not enough that texts are available which attest to the existence of deaconesses. We must attempt in each instance to understand who and what these deaconesses were and what their functions were, for the historical reality about them was constantly shifting and unstable.”
  5. The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West by Gary Macy. “Here is truly a groundbreaking book, essential reading for anyone interested in the complex story of the ministry of women has been valued (and devalued) within the Christian Church. Gary Macy clearly demonstrates that in the early church women were ordained into various roles, but in the eleventh and twelfth centuries a new definition of ordination was rigorously applied, which served to exclude them. This study is of crucial importance not only for an understanding of the development of medieval Christianity, but also for the material it brings to contemporary debate on the ordination of women.” – Alistair Minnis
  6. Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, ed. and trans. by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek. This is a detailed study of the participation of women in the Church through the sixth century and their eventual exclusion. Kevin Madigan is a professor of ecclesiastical history at Harvard Divinity School, and Carolyn Osiek is a retired professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.
  7. The Life of Macrina, by St. Gregory of Nyssa, trans. by Kevin Corrigan. This biography by St. Gregory of Nyssa extols the life of his sister, St. Macrina the Younger, who served as a spiritual guide for him and their entire family, even unto her death bed.


  1. The Forgotten Desert Mothers: Sayings, Lives and Stories of Early Christian Women by (Catholic Nun) Laura Swan. This book enlightens the reader about early ascetic Christian women, especially those who served as spiritual guides for others. A spiritual guide does not have to be a spiritual father. Many people have spiritual mothers.
  2. In the Heart of the Desert by Rev. Fr. John Chryssavgis. This book deals with ascetic spirituality, especially during the early centuries of the Church. Unlike many such books, this book includes women desert ascetics and their spiritual wisdom as well. Especially notable is the chapter entitled “The Desert and Gender” in which the author expresses some well-founded righteous indignation.

Spiritually Inspiring Lives

  1. Consoler of Suffering Hearts: The Life, Counsels and Miracles of Eldress Rachel, Visionary of Russia by her spiritual son, Archpriest Sergei Lebedev. Eldress Rachel of Borodino (convent) suffered much, and with her pure heart, gifts of prophecy, spiritual counsel, healing and great love for all, was a spiritual guide to metropolitans, bishops, priests and lay people. She consoled all who came to her with a right heart and spiritually healed many who came to her with a wrong heart. Her life was an amazing and exemplary one. This is a must read.
  2. Papa-Nicholas Planas: The Simple Shepherd of the Simple Sheep by his spiritual daughter, the nun Martha. Fr. Nicholas Planas served Liturgy for many years in Athens before he died in 1932. The little white chapel where he served is still at the foot of the Acropolis. He was uneducated, very simple and selfless and did not wish for worldly material possessions (He was referred to as “the tattered little elder.") nor high positions. Yet, with his life of humility, love and dedication to Christ he won many souls to God. His synodia (group of disciples) were very close with him, with God and with each other, reminiscent of Christ with His disciples—except some women, such as Mother Martha and Victoria were members of his closest group, along with several men as well. Victoria served as his chantress, along with a chanter, Moraitides. His life, as well as that of his biographer and close disciple, Mother Martha, is a rare and special jewel and very spiritually uplifting.
  3. Saint Nektarios, the Saint of Our Century (or Saint Nektarios: A Saint for Our Times) by Sotos Chondropoulos. Though very learned, St. Nektarios yet was extremely humble and did not consider himself worthy of becoming a bishop. He had deep love and concern for the Church. His life is a must-read for spiritually serious Orthodox faithful. As with Papa-Planas, one marvels at such a person and cleric in modern times.
  4. St. Seraphim of Sarov (vol. 5 of the “Modern Orthodox Saints” series by Constantine Cavarnos.). St. Seraphim of Sarov was a very special Russian monk and saint who lived in the eighteenth century. Once, though a strong, athletic man, he was attacked and left for dead by robbers. With a broken back he somehow managed to drag himself to the monastery. After that, he walked bent over for the rest of his life, as depicted by many of his icons. One chapter in the book, “A Conversation with the Saint,” is often published by itself and is particularly poignant, relating a spiritual experience a man named Motovilov had with him in the snowy woods in the middle of the winter in which, in spite of the cold of snow and the Russian winter, Motovilov noted with surprise that he felt an unexplainable warmth. St. Seraphim explained to him that they had been in the presence of the warmth of the Holy Spirit.
  5. Eldress Myrtidiotissa: The Ascetic Struggler of Klissoura, 1886 – 1974 by Metropolitan Cyprian. The author “writes about …the sanctified personality of God, Myrtidiotissa the nun…. Let the figure of this valiant struggler be one guiding light on the path that leads to our own Cross and Resurrection.”—Metropolitan Cyprian
  6. Saints and Sisterhood: The Lives of Forty-Eight Holy Women by Eva Catafygiotu Topping. This book is a month-by-month listing and study of some women saints on the Orthodox calendar.
  7. The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers (vol. 6 of “The Lives of …” series). This volume is a treasure trove of the lives of more than 50 holy women.
  8. The Lives of the Holy Women Martyrs (vol. 7 of “The Lives of …” series). The lives of more than 100 holy Christian women martyrs.
  9. The Life of the Virgin Mary, The Theotokos (vol. 4 in “The Lives of ” series). This is the most definitive biography every published of the life of the Virgin Mary. It is a must-have. Details everything that happened to the Virgin Mary. No other book compares to this one.

Women and the Church (Additional)

  1. 10 Lies the Church Tells Women: How the Bible Has Been Misused to Keep Women in Spiritual Bondage by J. Lee Grady. This book investigates the ungodly use of the Bible and other biased attitudes to wrongly deny women their God-intended equal freedom to pursue their spiritual needs and calling.
  2. Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition by Barbara MacHaffie. This book gives the struggle of women in Christian history to achieve equality in the Church, with emphasis on the American experience.
  3. The Ministry of Women in the Church by Elizabeth Behr-Sigel. “With great joy I recommend this book to all serious readers, to those who are ready to put aside their prejudices. May it be the ‘first swallow that announces the coming of spring.’ It will, I hope, open a new horizon for many churches, for many fearful spirits that are afraid of rethinking ideas that have been accepted without reflection. The Orthodox, and Roman Catholics too, must rethink the problem of woman in the light of the Scriptures. They must not make hasty statements about her being and her place in the work of salvation in which God has called us to be witnesses.” –Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourouzh.
  4. Woman at the Altar: The Ordination of Women in the Roman Catholic Church by Lavinia Byrne. This book is a refutation to the strong partiarchal statement by Pope John Paul II that the Church cannot ordain women. This book was banned by the Vatican.
  5. Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity ed. by Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Pamela J. Walker. This is a collection of essays of scholars dealing with the fact that, in spite of unrelenting attempts to keep women from preaching, teaching, prophesying and writing, etc., they still have done so throughout Christian history. The restrictions have come chiefly from interpretations of pronouncements by St. Paul.
  6. Gender and the Nicene Creed by Rev. Elizabeth Rankin Geitz, an Episcopal priest and theologian. Through examination of the Nicene Creed, the author recovers the feminine element of Christianity lost to the Church because of misogynous attitudes and beliefs.


Bobbi Knapp, Des Moines Courage, 2010
  1. Man Made Language by Dale Spender. “Dale Spender presents a compelling and practical analysis of the androcentric construction of the English language: its social context, vocabulary, syntax, history, and usage. Starting from the understanding that ‘Language helps form the limits of our reality," she examines the male-oriented assumptions of the science of linguistics, specifically the premise of "female deficiency’ predominant in earlier research: ‘When the starting premise is that women lack the forcefulness and effectiveness of men's language, then hypotheses and explanations are formulated to account for female hesitancy.’" Excerpt from “Editorial Reviews” on Amazon.com
  2. Women in Baseball: The Forgotten History by Gai Ingham Berlage. This book gives a detailed account of the fact that women have been playing both amateur and professional baseball in the U.S. since 1866 to the present. Importantly it closely examines the misogynous forces that virtually eliminated opportunities for women to be able to play the sport of baseball. It shows how wrong beliefs about women are throughout society, not just in the Church. (i.e. During the first half of the 20th Century, a female baseball pitcher struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig; and a female shortstop named Toni Stone played in the Negro Leagues—and was well respected by her teammates.)
  3. Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball by Jennifer Ring. This book thoroughly examines the severe limitation, and its injustice, of the opportunity for girls and women to play baseball.
  4. Still Kicking: My Dramatic Journey as the First to Play Division 1 College Football by Katie Hnida. This is the story of Ms. Hnida's overcoming many sexist obstacles to fulfill her athletic passion and the game of football.
  5. Iron Jawed Angels (2004) Starring Hilary Swank, Directed by Katja Von Garnier, This movie depicts with stark realism the severe abuse of suffragettes who fought for women's right to vote. False imprisonment, including brutal tortures are poignantly portrayed.
Helpful Websites

www.womenpriests.org An excellent and thorough Catholic site advocating the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church. Highly informative.

www.womendeacons.org An excellent resource for information on female deacons in the early Christian Church

www.pokrov.org “Pokrov” means “Protection” in Russian. This site educates about abuse by clergy in Orthodox churches. Cults are included.

Christian Holy Mothers This is the online edition of Eva Toppings book which is out of print.

christiananswersforthenewage.org An excellent general Christian site for information on the New Age Movement

Note: All books, except Confronting the Devil, Magic & the Occult, in this bibliography are available on Amazon.com.

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