The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anne Wentworth, an electronic edition. Edited with an introduction by Vickie Taft
- critical introduction
- Section: The (Un)Popularity of Seventeenth-Century Women Prophets. [Relating to Anne Wentworth's The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century
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The (Un)Popularity of Seventeenth-Century Women Prophets. [Relating to Anne Wentworth's The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though women prophets were common in seventeenth-century England, their prophetic activities were often scorned because they challenged traditional gender hierarchies. As Christine Berg and Philippa Berry note in "'Spiritual Whoredom': An Essay on Female Prophets in the Seventeenth Century," women who prophesied, especially for the public, subverted the idea that men alone should control the logos:
Women prophets, then, doubly encroached on the patriarchal control of language by first positing themselves as meaning-bearers and then disseminating this meaning among the public. The subversiveness of this encroachment was heightened by the fact that women's speech in general, because it was associated with that of Eve, the witch, and the harlot, was considered to be dangerous to those who listened to it. The voice of the woman was thought to be damning, not divine, in the seventeenth-century (Mack 30-33).
According to Phyllis Mack in Visionary Women: Ecstatic Prophecy in Seventeenth-Century England, women prophets could only succeed in prophesying publicly if their activities were authorized and supervised by men:
Wentworth, who disseminated her apocalyptic prophecies publicly by both publishing them and sending them to the King and the Lord Mayor of London, had no significant male patronage. Male members of the Anabaptist Church persecuted her rather than supported her as a prophet. Her texts were neither edited nor affirmed by men, though it is possible that men financed their publication. Wentworth's husband, moreover, proved to be the greatest hindrance of all to her prophetic career. Besides abusing and withdrawing financial support from her, he literally seized and probably destroyed a significant amount of her writing. Devoid of significant male support, Wentworth never became more than a minor Renaissance prophet.