The richness of recent research on women's worship gives witness to the scholarly interest in its contemporary practice, reflection, and construction. On the other hand, feminist scholarship has had little impact on liturgical historiography. In Women's Ways of Worship Teresa Berger reconstructs liturgical history from the perspectives of women. She shows that the invisibility of women in the traditional liturgical narrative draws into question the credibility of that narrative, especially at a time when research into women's history has unearthed much material relevant to women's liturgical lives.
Berger focuses on thirteen key interpretative principles that guide the reconstruction of women at worship—from a re-configuration of the canon of sources and a re-visioning of liturgical periodization to re-interpretation of anthropological basics and of liturgical texts. On the basis of these principles, she analyzes liturgical dynamics in two time periods crucial to the history of women at worship: the early centuries of the Christian Church and the twentieth-century liturgical renewal. Within the twentieth-century liturgical renewal, Berger focuses on two specific foci of renewal: the classical liturgical movement of the first half of the century, and—as a case of "history-in-the- making"—the women's liturgical movement of the present day.
Women's Ways of Worship narrates both past and present liturgical developments from the perspectives of women's lives, heeding such dynamics as the genderization of liturgical space, women- specific liturgical taboos, gender-specific devotional practices, and the emergence of feminist liturgies. An epilogue confronts the question of a future liturgy "beyond gender."
Convinced that reconstructing the history of women at worship will offer a new vision of the place of the women’s liturgical movement within liturgical history as a whole, Berger puts this movement on a continuum of women at worship, which is a continuum of struggle against the historic marginalization of women in most liturgical contexts. As this struggle has come to the forefront today, Women’s Ways of Worship provides a context for change, with women themselves being agents of both the questioning and the transformation.
Chapters are "Reconstructing Women's Ways of Worship: In Search of Methodological Principles," "Liturgical History Re-Constructed (I): Early Christian Women at Worship," "Liturgical History Re- Constructed (II): Women in the Twentieth-Century Liturgical Movement," and "Liturgical History in the Making: The Women's Liturgical Movement."
Teresa Berger is associate professor of Ecumenical Theology at the Divinity School of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. She is the author of numerous books and contributor to a variety of journals including Worship, published by The Liturgical Press.