This landmark work first published 20 years ago helped establish the field of African-American womanist theology and is widely regarded as a classic text. Drawing on the biblical figure of Hagar mother of Ishmael, cast into the desert by Abraham and Sarah, but protected by God Williams finds a proptype for the struggle of African-American women. African slave, homeless exile, surrogate mother, Hagar's story provides an image of survival and defiance appropriate to black women today. Exploring the themes implicit in Hagar's story poverty and slavery, ethnicity and sexual exploitation, exile and encounter with God Williams traces parallels in the history of African-American women from slavery to the present day. A new womanist theology emerges from this shared experience, from the interplay of oppressions on account of race, sex and class. Sisters in the Wilderness offers a telling critique of theologies that promote liberation but ignore women of color. This is a book that defined a new theological project and charted a path that others continue to explore.
Delores S. Williams is professor emerita of theology and culture, Union Theological Seminary, New York City.
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