Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk

Book, 2013, 260 pp
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This landmark work first published 20 years ago helped establish the field of African-American womanist theology. It is widely regarded as a classic text in the field.

Drawing on the biblical figure of Hagar mother of Ishmael, cast into the desert by Abraham and Sarah, but protected by God, Williams finds a prototype for the struggle of African-American women. African slave, homeless exile, surrogate mother, Hagar's story provides an image of survival and defiance appropriate to black women today. Exploring the themes implicit in Hagar's story poverty and slavery, ethnicity and sexual exploitation, exile and encounter with God, Williams traces parallels in the history of African-American women from slavery to the present day.

A new womanist theology emerges from this shared experience, from the interplay of oppressions on account of race, sex and class. Sisters in the Wilderness offers a telling critique of theologies that promote "liberation" but ignore women of color. This is a book that defined a new theological project and charted a path that others continue to explore.

"[First] published in 1993, this book presented a watershed moment in the development not only of womanist theology but also in American theology and biblical studies. Williams brilliantly captures and clarifies a number of crucial themes of race, identity and experience while advancing conversations in liberationist biblical hermeneutics and theology with her innovative reading of Hagar and her powerful critique of atonement theories." --The Christian Century

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