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Book Reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 324–377 327

In Part III, Wellman explains how his analysis of the moral worldviews of liberals and evangelicals helps to explain the growth and
decline of these two subcultures in the Pacific Northwest. The conservative politics and dogmatism of the evangelical worldview place evan-
gelicals in greater tension with broader Pacific Northwest culture. Evangelicals wear the negative labeling they receive from outsiders as
a badge of honor. However, this is a tension of engagement rather than a tension of rejection. Rather than isolating themselves from
non-evangelicals, evangelicals see the region as a fertile ground for conversion and transformation. This entrepreneurial spirit is celebrated
in Pacific Northwest culture and contributes to evangelical growth in the region.
Liberal churches, however, cannot boast the same success. Wellman explains that this is partly due to the fact that liberal churches mirror
the libertarian spirit of Pacific Northwest culture and, therefore, exist with little or no tension with it. Liberals value individualism and the
freedom to think for oneself. Unlike evangelicals – who construct firm boundaries between sinners and the saved – liberals believe that
‘nothing is outside of God, not sinners, or other religionists, or anything that exists’ (p. 280). These amorphous boundaries make it difficult
for liberal churches to explain why church attendance is important. Liberal churches, Wellman found, are ‘less entrepreneurial, less inter-
ested in growth and expansion, and less organizationally dynamic, though they offer a religious ideology that is open and expansive, which
northwesterners treasure and mirror’ (p. 282).
Two methodological questions arise. The first question relates to Wellman's definition of ‘thriving’ churches. Wellman demonstrates,
quite convincingly, throughout the text that evangelicals are more entrepreneurial than liberal churches. Evangelicals invest a significant
amount of time and effort in sharing their religion with others. Success and ‘thriving’ for these churches constitute an increase in the
number of converts to their religion and, thus, an increase in membership numbers. In contrast, Wellman demonstrates – again quite
convincingly – that liberals do not place the same amount of time and energy sharing their faith in an effort to increase membership.
Liberals are more concerned with living a life where one's beliefs and one's actions are in accord. Where evangelicals are concerned
with growth, liberals are more concerned with the avoidance of hypocrisy. What becomes clear is that Wellman's definition of thriving,
and therefore his selection of churches for this study, is more compatible with an evangelical understanding of success. Therefore, it
should not be a surprise that evangelicals are more ‘successful’ in the Pacific Northwest than liberals. It would be interesting to see
how this study would have changed if the definition of ‘thriving’ had been based instead on the liberal notion of ‘success’ that Wellman
presents in this work.
A second question arises regarding Wellman's decision to exclude African American churches from his study. Wellman justifies this
exclusion because he found African American churches to be ‘evangelical and conservative in theology but quite progressive on economic
and some social issues’ (p. 16). Despite the fact that he excludes these churches, it is clear that race plays a role in the liberal churches in this
study. We see a glimpse of this when Wellman recounts a discussion he had with a white pastor of a liberal church with a large percentage of
African American members. The pastor explains that he does not discuss homosexuality from the pulpit out of deference to his African
American colleagues ‘who simply do not want to talk about homosexuality and generally have a “don't ask, don't tell,” philosophy of
ministry’ (p. 78). A wealth of insights regarding the relationship of race, moral worldview, and politics waits to be explored.
What this text offers the reader is an abundance of information for the study of regional religion, liberal Christianity and evangelical
Christianity. Scholars of social movements in the United States will also find this volume incredibly useful for all of the insight it provides
on the relationship between religious worldview and political action. As the debate over same-sex marriage intensifies, many have marveled
at the ability of evangelicals to successfully mobilize and the failure of liberals to do the same. Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian
Cultures in the Pacific Northwest suggests that this should not be a surprise. Wellman found that evangelicals tend to support political advo-
cacy more than their liberal counterparts. Liberals voiced greater caution in mixing church and state. Many of the liberals Wellman inter-
viewed expressed a desire not to hear about politics during their church services, and liberal pastors complied. Since liberal churches hope
to create a religious environment that is hospitable to all, the discussion of political issues is often abandoned. For those who study religion
and political action on the issues of same-sex marriage, abortion, the environment, or the Iraq War, this book is a useful volume.

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand
University of California, (U.S.A.)
E-mail address: grayhildenbrand@umail.ucsb.edu

doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2010.02.005

Janet Gyatso, Hanna Havnevik, eds., Women in Tibet. Columbia University Press, New York, 2005, xiiD436 pp., $85 (cloth), $27.50
(paper), ISBN 0 231 13099 6, ISBN: 0 231 13098 8.

This collection of edited articles addressing the topic of women in Tibet fills a lacuna in Tibetan studies. While much has been written
about Tibet, and much especially about the Dalai Lama in particular, comparatively very little attention has been paid to women in Tibet, and
specifically to the lives of contemporary women in Tibet. In a sense, one might understand this book as heralding a more sophisticated
awareness of Tibet by directing attention towards a topic so far not well explored – women in Tibet – and in a manner that offers a sober
view, one that does not feel compelled by political constraints to veer towards a utopic vision. Riding on a swell of interest – especially the
interest of the Western media as the struggle for Tibetan autonomy navigates its way through 40 years of exile and an encroaching Chinese
government – this study of women in Tibet brings us more deeply into the fabric of Tibet's complex history and its current complicated
status vis-à-vis the Chinese. Perhaps it is worth reflecting on the fact that the Tibetan struggle for autonomy has been roughly chronolog-
ically synchronistic, with a heightened push of the women's movement for equality in the West. In this light, this collection of articles
addressing women in Tibet appears doubly interesting, in that it focuses on women in the context of a very visible, indeed somewhat
romanticized, politically marginalized group.
This book goes a long way towards deconstructing a romanticized view of Tibet and consciously notes and works against a pattern
enforced frequently by scholars (especially Western scholars), using idealized religious and divine figures in Tibet's religious history as
328 Book Reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 324–377

models for feminism in the West. Furthermore, the attention this volume gives to women inside Tibet, rather than affording exclusive atten-
tion to women in the exile government in India – or simply to historical figures – is remarkable.
The book's introduction sets the stage for this shift of perspective. It offers a theoretical assessment of the problems dogging a study of
women in Tibet. Steering away from a politically correct idealization of Tibetan women, one of this book's greatest strengths is the emphasis
on a meticulous and factually oriented presentation of the sociological facets of women's lives in Tibet. As Janet Gyatso and Hanna Havnevik
note in their introduction, this focus is couched in a perspective that tries in particular to locate women in a wider context; in a context of
societal constraints and contexts, rather than operating to present gender in Tibetan culture, or to explicitly present a feminist agenda in
these discussions of women. Gyatso and Havnevik skillfully present this strategic method, theoretically situating it within the history of
Tibetan studies and more broadly, in what they cite as the ‘longstanding tendency in Tibetan studies to presume that the deployment of
feminist issues constitutes an obfuscating projection of modern, “Western” concerns’ (p. 3). Much of Gyatso and Havnevik's introduction
is an artful reclamation of the feminist implications of the meticulous and notably theory-lean bulk of the volume's contributions. Gyatso
and Havnevik also specify the historical contingency of essentialized notions of gender within a Tibetan context, recovering a fuller appre-
ciation of the complexity of gender theorizing by directing our gaze away from the ahistorical idealizations of women that have pervaded
much discussion of the Tibetan female as ḍa kinı.
The volume offers three articles addressing women in the premodern period. Helga Uebach's ‘Ladies of the Tibetan Empire (7th–9th
Centuries CE)’ explores the positions and lives of not only the well-known Nepali and Chinese consorts of the emperor Songtsen Gampo,
but also a number of other lesser known – but highly placed – women connected with the royal clans of Tibet. Drawing from the collection
of old Tibetan texts found at Tunhuang, Uebach offers an outline of a number of influential Tibetan women; perhaps the richest account is
that of Trimalo, the consort of Manglon Mangtsen, whose influence as the de facto regent of the Tibetan empire for her son Tridusong
spanned three decades. Gleaning bits of information from the scattered and terse references to her and to other influential Tibetan women,
Uebach manages to offer a historical portrait that pulls out of oblivion the lives of a number of women.
Like Uebach's article, Dan Martin's contribution, ‘The Woman Illusion?’ also serves as a basic mapping of bare bones data of a number of
spiritually accomplished women living in the 11th through to the 12th centuries. He divides his data into categories, including the ‘Three
Best-Known Women’, ‘Prophets’, ‘Disciples’, ‘Lineage Holders’, ‘Leaders of Popular Movements’, ‘Teachers’ and ‘Nuns’. This catalog of various
well-known women spiritual figures is helpful – like Uebach's article – insofar as it functions as a well-organized reference source, with
ample bibliographic annotations. Of special interest is Martin's focus on the connection that so many of these important religious women
have with Phadampa, the mostly naked Indian Buddhist from Andhra in South India. Martin points out Phadampa's explicit teachings for
women, encouraging them on a path of dharma, ‘to break free of the household life and to stop slaving for their husbands’ (p. 75). With
this, Martin suggestively points to a mere historical contingency – a single charismatic teacher with, as Martin describes him, a ‘“semi-”
or “proto-” (?) feminism’ (p. 80), as the driving catalyst for the rise to prominence of a number of women in 11th and 12th century Tibet.
Kurtis Schaeffer's article, ‘The Autobiography of a Medieval Hermitess: Orgyan Chokyi (1675–1729)’ addresses a single figure, Orgyan Chokyi,
and presents a distillation of his longer translation and study of this important Tibetan nun from the 18th century. This interesting account
concludes with the barest of hints – that one wishes were more fleshed out – suggesting the significance of place, the border, and particularly
the mountainous border regions of Tibet as a way of organizing the cultural symbols directing identities of women and men in Tibet.
The second part of the book shifts to women in the modern period. With this, one cannot help but notice a shift away from a study of texts
generally, either written by or about women, to focus on women outside the written world. We see women as oracles, women in medicine,
women as singers and dancers, women as politicians and women's bodies in the representations of nuns in Labrang. Hildegard Diemberger
focuses upon women oracles, noting that – in a climate of state persecution of ‘superstitious’ practices, such as oracular divination – oracles,
especially those not connected with monastic institutions, seem to be mainly women (p. 116). Diemberger's contribution discusses a number
of different cases of oracles. We find generational differences as a response to changed conditions under Chinese rule for younger oracles.
Diemberger also notes patterns in the occurrence of oracular possession, such as that occurring during the fragile times of puberty or just
after marriage. As we find elsewhere in the literature on possession, the calling to become an oracle frequently involves a period of divinely
caused illness. In the case of Tibetan oracles a lama often performs the crucial ‘opening of the channels’ (p. 129) that both cures the woman
and affords her initiation into the vocation of oracle. Of special interest is Diemberger's focus on the complex relationship between
Buddhism as a mediating institution – recognizing and thereby conferring authority and status for an individual oracle – and the Chinese
government's attempts to both regulate and eradicate religious practices such as oracles. The inevitable fall-out of this has resulted in a vola-
tile and complexly overdetermined identity for these women as oracles, inevitably drawing them into the larger political tensions of
government and religious institutions. Diemberger maps some of the different and creative paths some of these women have taken,
including the unexpected case of one woman who becomes a Maoist oracle.
Like most of the articles in this volume, Tashi Tsering's ‘Outstanding Women in Tibetan Medicine’ functions as a basic catalog, offering
some basic historical details of the various women in Tibet who have attained a measure of prominence in medicine. His study includes
a mere list of pre-20th century figures, but focuses specifically on women, beginning in the 20th century. Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy's ‘Women
in the Performing Arts’ presents a portrait of the position of women in the performing arts that differs from nearly every other sphere of
activity that the book addresses, emphasizing that in this arena women are not generally excluded and neither are they especially predom-
inant (p. 196). Henrion-Dourcy offers a rich contextualization of the traditional roots of entertainers in the beer-server tradition and the
lhamo performances. With this, she goes on to discuss the lives of six contemporary women whose careers have been intricately interwoven
with the advent of the Chinese. Particularly interesting is her discussion of the political implications of a style of voice and singing, where
Tibetan styles represent resistance to Chinese hegemony.
Charlene Makley and Robert Barnett both address the idea of women through the female body. Makley's ‘The Body of a Nun: Nunhood
and Gender in Contemporary Amdo’ especially stands out in this volume. Her contribution diverges from the format of most of the articles in
the volume, insofar as she does not simply present a historical catalog of women in some sphere of Tibetan life, but instead offers a fasci-
nating and critically nuanced analysis of gender stereotypes of women who become nuns in Amdo. Pitching her discussion around the
themes of asceticism and gender, she notes how the trope of what she calls ‘monastic androgyny’ (p. 261) is undermined by sexual gossip.
The stereotypes and local community pressures limit the ability of nuns in Labrang to assert a viable institutional presence. Robert Barnett's
long article on ‘Women and Politics in Contemporary Tibet’ focuses on women's roles in what he calls ‘a new phase of politics, and of
Book Reviews / Religion 40 (2010) 324–377 329

women's politics’ (p. 286), which has emerged since the mid1980s. He addresses two primary areas in particular: women's participation in
outlawed and oppositional political action on the one hand, and on the other the emergence of a new group of Tibetan women in the formal
leadership established by the Chinese Communist Party (p. 287). In a rich interweaving of the political tapestry motivating and constraining
the actions of these two disparate groups of women, he links them together through an analysis of the rhetoric of ritualized political actions
that convey a meaning through an understanding of Tibetan political space as a feminized arena. His article tells us something about
contemporary women in Tibet; while at the same time helping to illuminate some of the more subtle and nuanced significance of Tibetan
culture as rhetoric; one that Barnett frames as politics of the body (p. 362).
One could argue that this book might be faulted for an eclecticism only too loosely gathered under the rubric of ‘women in Tibet’, even as
this eclecticism is one that the editors acknowledge. One might wish for some stronger thematic or analytic category pulling together these
articles. Overall, however, the rich depth of details that this collection affords offers much food for thought and is itself a kind of statement
that works against any impulse towards a generalization or essentialization of the idea of women in Tibet.

Loriliai Biernacki
University of Colorado at Boulder (USA)
E-mail address: Loriliai.biernacki@colorado.edu

doi: 10.1016/j.religion.2010.05.001

Mara H. Benjamin, Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity. Cambridge University Press, 2009, xi D 209 pp., $80
(hardback), ISBN 978 0 521 89526 2.

Commentaries abound a propos Franz Rosenzweig’s celebrated magnum opus, The Star of Redemption. Its labyrinthine reasoning and
wealth of allusions to and citations from myriad philosophical, theological and poetic traditions have attracted and bemused generations
of commentators. In her book, Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity, Mara Benjamin attempts to confront these chal-
lenges by exploring what has been neglected in English-speaking scholarship – namely, Rosenzweig’s relationship to scripture. Benjamin’s
broader task is twofold. First, her book is an attempt to examine how Rosenzweig can help us to sort out the modern problems associated
with theology and biblical authority. Her interest, she explains, is ‘less in the question how scripture is to be interpreted and more in the
fundamental question: why interpret scripture’ (p. 4). Second, her book aims to establish how Rosenzweig used scripture in his writing
to maintain incommensurate positions in response to both the religious discourse and the challenges of modernity. Benjamin contends
that Rosenzweig’s tempestuous relationship to modernity really reflects our owndso much so, in fact, that Rosenzweig’s work – she argues
– offers ‘a particularly compelling standpoint for posing these central questions,’ (p. 4) though not necessarily for answering them.
Benjamin focuses her study on Rosenzweig’s concept of language, particularly how biblical language (the actual words) redefine a notion
of revelation amenable to modern theological sensibilities. She also offers an intellectual history of an extraordinary religious figure, who
developed his theological approach in the face of certain death. By revisiting the theological trauma engendered by the publication of Spi-
noza’s oft-cited Theological-Political Treatise (1670), Benjamin explores the inevitable decline of the Bible from scripture to book. With this
decline, she contends, also falls the epistemological prevalence of revelation in religious discourse. By following his post-The Star of Redemp-
tion intellectual development through his translations of the religious poetry of the medieval poet Yehudah Halevi (Rosenzweig’s paradig-
matic poet), his goal of a ‘Hebraized German’ through his Hebrew Bible translation with Martin Buber, and his essays on the Hebrew Bible
and translation, Benjamin argues that Rosenzweig’s ‘mature’ writings disclose not only a much different view of revelation than found in The
Star of Redemption but also one that reveals a hermeneutical stance of a particular religious community – one that potentially offers a remedy
to the loss of biblical authority.
The strength of Benjamin’s work lies in its approach. While positing the The Star of Redemption as the preamble to Rosenzweig’s religious
thought, she argues that the work is in fact an ‘immature experiment rather than a crowning achievement’ (p. 20). The mature Rosenzweig,
she argues, realized that he did not accomplish the ambitious goals set out in his magnum opus; an argument she develops by focusing on
Rosenzweig’s post-The Star of Redemption literary activities, which, she claims, are best read as a working out of The Star of Redemption’s
system. In fact, The Star of Redemption becomes less an engagement with a philosophical system and more of a propaedeutic towards reading
Rosenzweig’s later writings. Benjamin explains: ‘The “scriptural thinking” that animates The Star of Redemption anchors the trajectory that
characterized the remainder of Rosenzweig’s intellectual life’ (p. 64). To prove this point, Benjamin examines Rosenzweig’s use of biblical
references and citations from his early essay ‘Atheistic Theology’ (1914), as well as what she describes as his pseudo-biblical theology in his
later essay ‘Das Formgeheimnis’ (1928). Whereas Rosenzweig’s early use of scripture was intended to combat the atheism of liberal theology
as well as his contemporaries’ attachment to historicism by omitting analytic exposition in his writing in favor of quoting from biblical texts,
his later use of scripture – Benjamin contends – was intended to explain how the Hebrew Bible was not merely an alternative to historicism
but emerged as the foundational text to which a more dynamic, multivalent understanding of revelation could be applied. Benjamin asserts
that for Rosenzweig, the Hebrew Bible was dynamic simply because it was misread. His translation projects, moreover, reveal a political
impulse to challenge Christian ‘suppositions’ about how scripture should be read at the same time as challenging the rabbinic orientation
of Judaism by centering Judaism on the Bible. Benjamin substantiates this claim by considering Rosenzweig’s focus on the medieval poet
Yehuda Halevi – which enabled him to develop the hope for a Jewish home in language – and she explores how Rosenzweig used Halevi
not only to express and develop an innovative translation method, but also to show how this translation could assist contemporary Jews in
navigating the terrain of modern German society. Halevi’s ‘textual legacy’, she states, became, for Rosenzweig, ‘emblematic of a religious
ideal inaccessible in the contemporary climate’ (p. 73).
According to Benjamin, Rosenzweig’s post-The Star of Redemption efforts also offer a response to Kant’s critique of heteronomy. She
suggests that his translation projects propose a Jewish world composed by language as opposed to one based on orthopraxy, which calls
for a textually centered Jewish identity. ‘Rosenzweig’, she writes, ‘articulated a Judaism to be appropriated through language and study