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A Company of Women Preachers

Baptist Prophetesses in Seventeenth-Century England

Curtis W. Freeman, editor

Publication Year: 2011

When the Baptist movement began four centuries ago, revolutionary forces had destabilized the centers of social control that had long kept women in their place. In the early seventeenth century, Baptist women began to speak their minds. Through their prophetic writings, these women came to exercise considerable influence and authority among the early churches. When Baptists became more institutionalized later in the century, the egalitarian distinction dissipated and women’s voices again, for a long history, were silenced. However, long ago, in early Baptist life in England, women did preach—well and often. In A Company of Women Preachers, Curtis Freeman collects and presents a critical edition of these prophetic women’s texts, retrieving their voices so that their messages and contributions to the tradition may once again be recognized.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xv

This book presents significant challenges to readers. Conservatives who believe that the biblical warrant for women preachers is dubious may suspect they are being asked to reexamine or at least suspend their hermeneutical assumptions. Liberals who might otherwise be attracted to the notion of preaching women among the early Baptists ...

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Introduction: Preaching Women among Early Baptists

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pp. 1-41

In 1646, the English Presbyterian controversialist Thomas Edwards published an encyclopedic account of heresies, provocatively titled Gangraena. It contained “[a] Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errors, Heresies, Blasphemies and pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this time, vented and acted in England...

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1. Katherine Chidley: The Justification of the Independant Churches of Christ (1641)

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pp. 43-145

In 1616 Henry Jacob directed the gathering of a church in London by joining hands, making a personal confession of faith, and covenanting together “to walk in all Gods Ways as he had revealed or pendent, its members were permitted to remain in communion with their parish churches...

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2. Sarah Wight: The Exceeding Riches of Grace Advanced (1647)

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pp. 147-263

Many of the early Baptists, like the congregation in Southwark led by Henry Jessey, subscribed to the doctrines of grace. The 1646 confession to which Jessey was a signatory affirmed that “Jesus Christ by His death did purchase salvation for the elect,” further declaring faith to be “the gift of God...

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3. Elizabeth Poole: An Alarum of War, Given to the Army (1649), Another Alarum of War, Given to the Army (1649)

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pp. 265-304

On October 17, 1642, William Kiffin emerged onto the public stage as a defender of believer baptism against Daniel Featley, the Anglican theologian and clergyman, who later published his side of the argument under the provocative title The Dippers Dipt, or...

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4. Jane Turner: Choice Experiences of the Kind Dealings of God (1653)

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pp. 305-368

Six members were dismissed in 1638 from the gathered church in Southwark led by Henry Jessey. It was the third congregation to form out of the Jessey church, the other two being led by John Duppa (1630) and Samuel Eaton (1633). The newly formed congregation united under...

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5. Anna Trapnel: The Cry of a Stone (1654) Report and Plea, or, A Narrative of Her Journey (1654) A Legacy for Saints (1654)

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pp. 369-586

With abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1649, Baptists found reason to be hopeful that their vision of church reform would finally flourish. The most radical voices among them were drawn to the theology of Fifth Monarchy millenarianism. Fifth Monarchists took their cue from...

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6. Katherine Sutton: A Christian Womans Experiences of the Glorious Working of Gods Free Grace (1663)

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pp. 587-646

The first Baptist, John Smyth, declaimed in The Differences of the Churches of the Separation (1608) that “the worship of the New Testament properly so called is spirituall proceding originally from the hart: & that reading out of a booke . . . is no part of spiritual worship, but rather the invention of the man of sinne.” Though few who followed him...

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7. Anne Wentworth: A True Account of Anne Wentworths (1676) A Vindication of Anne Wentworth (1677) The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1679) Englands Spiritual Pill (c. 1679)

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pp. 647-778

Early Baptists often thought about the church in apocalyptic terms. When Thomas Helwys wrote the Mystery of Iniquity in 1612, he identified the first beast of Revelation 13 with the Roman Catholic Church and the second beast, which imitated the first, with the Church of England. Even the other separated congregations, with whom he once kept fellowship ...


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pp. 779-792

Scripture Index

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pp. 793-807

Index of Names and Subjects

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pp. 809-824

E-ISBN-13: 9781602584679
E-ISBN-10: 1602584672
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602583184
Print-ISBN-10: 1602583188

Page Count: 750
Illustrations: 16
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st

OCLC Number: 794698765
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Company of Women Preachers

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sermons, English -- 17th century.
  • Baptists -- Sermons.
  • Baptist women -- England -- History -- 17th century.
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