Christine de Pizan and biblical Wisdom: A feminist-theological point of view

Bonnie A. Birk, Marquette University

Abstract

Fifteenth-century author Christine de Pizan is admired for the extensiveness and the diversity of her writing, and is best known for her insightful defense of women. She, like many medieval writers, often used literary personification as a vehicle for conveying her thought. It has been noticed by many commentators that a number of the female literary figures Christine created had an unmistakably deified aura about them. A close engagement with her work reveals that when the need arose to affirm the inherent worth of women, or to herald the outstanding achievements of women, or to argue for the placement of women and men in the created order as equal partners in a common humanity, or to validate herself as a person of sound wisdom and learning, Christine added a theological dimension to her writing which included an affirming and wisdom-inspiring female symbol for deity. This current study, drawing upon the insights of today's feminist scholars in religion, has attempted to demonstrate that the female literary-theological figures she developed for the purpose of feminist authentication were inspired to a significant extent by the female figure of biblical Wisdom. Moreover, it has been shown that the scriptural Wisdom text that Christine used most extensively was the book of the Wisdom of Solomon. Scholars have long noted that in the three works under discussion here--L'epistre Othéa la deesse, L'advision Cristine , and Le livre de la cité des dames --Christine utilized, borrowed from, and often revised many traditional examples of female empowerment. The recognition of her poetic as well as didactic use of the imposing female figure of biblical Wisdom adds another intriguing interpretative element to an understanding of the feminist dimension of Christine's thought.

Recommended Citation

Bonnie A. Birk, "Christine de Pizan and biblical Wisdom: A feminist-theological point of view" (January 1, 2004). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI3150459.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI3150459

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