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.