Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Interdisciplinary Studies


Religion, History, Church Politics, Reformation


Arts and Humanities | Christian Denominations and Sects | History of Christianity


Women have held various positions of authority in the church. During the Protestant Reformation (1517-1600), women grew in religious influence through breaks with cold traditionalism, offering greater interpretive power to women. Through an examination of literature from both primary and secondary sources, views concerning the scope and depth of women’s expositional authority will be discussed, with specific analyses on Marie Dentire, Argula von Grumbach, and Anna Zwingli. The conclusion follows that the source and role of women’s authority in the church realm varied between Catholicism and Protestantism. The former provides respect of femininity given its emphasis on the Virgin Mary, and the latter provides more institutional teaching authority through its more holistic and contextual readings of key biblical passages.