Women Flying with God: Allan Boesak’s Contribution to the Liberation of Women of Faith in South Africa


  • Christina Landman Research Institute for Theology and Religion University of South Africa




Allan Boesak, women in the Bible, women of faith in South Africa, liberation of women, Die Vlug van Gods Verbeelding


In 2005 Allan Boesak published a book entitled Die Vlug van Gods Verbeelding (“The Flight of God’s Imagination”1). It contains six Bible studies on women in the Bible, who are Hagar, Tamar, Rizpah, the Syrophoenician woman, the Samaritan woman as well as Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. This article argues that women of faith in South Africa have, throughout the ages, in religious literature been stylised according to six depictions, and that Boesak has, in the said book, undermined these enslaving depictions skilfully. The six historical presentations deconstructed by Boesak through the Bible studies are the following: 1) Women are worthy only in their usefulness to church and family without agency of their own; 2) A good woman is submissive on all levels, privately and publicly; 3) Women should sacrifice themselves to the mission of the church, without acknowledgment that they themselves are victims of patriarchy; 4) A good white woman is one that is loyal to the nation and to her husband while black women are to reject their cultures; 5) Women’s piety is restricted to dealing with their personal sins, while they are not to express their piety in public; 6) Women are forbidden by the Bible to participate in ordained religion. After references to these discourses in Christian literature of the past 200 years, the contents of Boesak’s Bible studies will be analysed to determine how—and how far—he has moved from these traditional views of women of faith. Finally the research findings will be summarised in a conclusion.


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Boesak, A. A. 2005. Die Vlug van Gods Verbeelding: Bybelverhale van die Onderkant (“The Flight of God’s Imagination: Biblical stories from the Undersideâ€). Stellenbosch: SUN Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18820/9781920689391

Dibeela, P., Lenka-Bula, P., and Vellem, V. (eds). 2014. Prophet from the South: Essays in Honour of Allan Aubrey Boesak. Stellenbosch: SUN Media. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18820/9781920689254

Flaendorp, C. D., Philander, N. C., and Plaatjies van Huffel, M.A. (eds). A Life in Black Liberation Theology: Festschrfit in Honour of Allan Boesak. Stellenbosch: SUN Media (Rapid Access Publishers).

Landman, C. 1995. “Christian Women in South African Historiography— an Overview.†In Digging up our Foremothers, edited by C. Landman. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 3–26.

Landman, C. 1994. The Piety of Afrikaans Women—Diaries of Guilt. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press.

Landman, C. 1999. The Piety of South African Women. Pretoria: CB Powell Centre.




How to Cite

Landman, Christina. 2017. “Women Flying With God: Allan Boesak’s Contribution to the Liberation of Women of Faith in South Africa”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 43 (1):166-77. https://doi.org/10.25159/2412-4265/2720.



Received 2017-06-05
Accepted 2017-06-07
Published 2017-08-13