Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology edited by Kwok Pui-Lan intermixes a collection of articles from a variety of women’s perspectives and highlights new developments and voices from around the globe. Many of the essays in this volume have been previously published within the last ten years, but this distinguished tome frames these chapters under the following themes: (1) Context and Theology, (2) Scripture, (3) Christology, and (4) Body, Sexuality and Spirituality. Hope Abundant incorporates a poem at the beginning of each part proposing alternative perspectives of viewing theological expression. Kwok Pui-Lan (Hong Kong/USA) introduces this important volume and states, “Since globalization and the current form of Empire are de-centered and de-territorialized, transnational and intercultural alliances among marginalized women doing theology are necessary.”[1]

Part One includes a poem by Mercy Amba Oduyoye (Ghana) using the image of a circle as both inclusive and exclusive. Musimbi R.A. Kanyoro (Kenya) challenges the idea of inculturation, noting its insufficient methodology and offering a corrective where cultures be reclaimed to include a critical lens from women’s perspectives through an engendered communal theology. Wong Wai Ching Angela (Hong Kong, China) gives an overview of organizations working on theological tasks in Asia. She not only focuses upon the contributions and challenges presented by women, particularly young women, but also draws attention to the importance of partnership between men and women. Ivone Gebara (Brazil) dares the reader to rethink the Christian tradition based in complex histories and away from patriarchal logic. To model her challenge, she concludes this essay with a poem rather than prose. Andrea Smith (Cherokee, USA) gives aspects necessary for decolonizing theology only after questioning the notion of a God-centered Christian framework as the point of entry for analyzing and understanding Native spiritualities.

Part Two begins with the poem “Words” by Maricel Mena-López (Columbia) and the “Feminist Intercultural Theology” symposium participants. Musa W. Dube (Botswana) outlines a feminist and post-colonial approach to scriptural texts maintaining the central challenge of “how the Christian texts construct and legitimate encounters with people of different faith, race, gender and sexuality.”[2] Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon (India) names the importance of a space for Dalit women’s reflections on the Bible. She identifies storytelling and role play as methodologies for Bible study. She believes these methods to highlight Dalit women’s ways of interacting. Jean Zaru (Palestine) presents a very moving and personal essay based in her own experience of violence and war which moves from specific re-appropriations of biblical themes such as election, land and women to outlining practical common affirmations to move toward a more peaceful world. Laura E. Donaldson (Cherokee, USA) challenges the notions of mestizaje, intermingling and intermarriage as assimilationist strategies through a reading of the book of Ruth interpreted as the story of Pocahontas. She offers the sign of Orpah as an anti-Pocahontas.  Elsa Tamez (Mexico) presents a perspective of gender household and domestic codes in 1 C.E. particularly in the book of Timothy. She not only illustrates differences existing among genders but also creates a deeper matrix analyzing how socioeconomics play a large role in the application of these codes.

Sun Ai Park’s poem “The Star of Christ” introduces Part Three on Christology. Mercy Amba Oduyoye demonstrates an intriguing point using the words of African women to discuss Christ and the concept of kenosis. Self-emptying is a process to be filled with the spirit of Jesus. This kenotic conceptualization rejects exterior crosses and sacrifices imposed by those not in solidarity with women who adopt this concept of kenosis. Sharon A. Bong (Malaysia) explains an Asian perspective of an embodied Christ that suffers, resists and heals. Lee Miena Skye (Palawa, Australia) emphatically asserts, “The most powerful message Australian Aboriginal Christian women give to the generations of the new millennium is to please let there be no more genocide in the history of humanity!”[3] Clara Luz Ajo Lázaro (Cuba) introduces her analysis with a story. She continues to portray aspects of how some Cuban Catholics and Episcopalians ebb and flow with Santería in daily life, liturgy, ritual and symbols.

“The Lord’s Prayer” from A New Zealand Prayer Book introduces Part Four. Isabel Apawo Phiri (Malawi) contends that HIV/AIDS is more than a medical condition, that HIV/AIDS needs to be included in all theological reflections of all African theologies, and that any view of HIV/AIDS as punishment from God must be eliminated.  Meng Yanling (China) argues for Chinese feminist theology to be incorporated deeply and centrally within Chinese Churches and the Academy. Maria José Rosado-Nunes (Brazil) elucidates harsh realities of Brazilian Catholic women when “affirming their religious faith and the need to defend the more elementary rights of women in search of their autonomy”[4] are at odds. Carmelita Usog (Philippines) incorporates poetry, prayer and scripture to flesh out an interrelated Filipina women’s spirituality for justice based in a liberating Spirit which allows for moving beyond apprehensions, worries, and uncertainties.

As a whole, Hope Abundant presents a volume of diverse women’s voices and perspectives challenging oppressive and colonizing conjectures of God, spiritualities, epistemologies, and bodies. These essays speak from particular contexts but raise challenges for scholarship on religion in general regarding approaches, assumptions and most clearly what is understood as academic theology through the presentation of stories, prayers, oral traditions and poems woven into the chapters.

In the future, I hope to see works which include the diversity and plurality of voices of women of color from the USA. Kwok Pui-Lan gives the reason for the omission of these voices from this volume as, “This is because there are substantial theological anthologies from womanist traditions of African religions.”[5] I know theologies from the USA tend to receive much attention and authority, but women scholars exist in the USA whose perspectives, approaches, and questions remain on the periphery due to ethnicity, race, socioeconomics, sexual orientations, etc. I also look forward to volumes such as this one which includes essays in various languages and other forms beyond prose to express scholarship on religions.

[1] Kwok Pui-Lan, “Introduction,” in Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology. ed. Kwok Pui-Lan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 9.

[2] Musa W. Dube, “Toward a Post-Colonail Feminist Interpretation of the Bible,” in Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology. ed. Kwok Pui-Lan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 99

[3] Lee Miena Skye, “Australian Aboriginal Women’s Christologies,” in Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology. ed. Kwok Pui-Lan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 201.

[4] Maria José Rosado-Nunes, “Catholicism and Women’s Rights as Human Rights,” in Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology. ed. Kwok Pui-Lan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 250.

[5] Kwok Pui-Lan, “Introduction,” in Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology. ed. Kwok Pui-Lan (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 8-9.