Publication Date



Jane Lead, God-talk, divine history


Jane Lead [or Leade] (1624–1704) was one of the few seventeenth-century Englishwomen bold and radical enough to engage in "God-talk"—to used Rosemary Ruether's term. When the power of the English king and church was restored in 1660, radical millenarians were repressed and had to face that the English revolution—“God’s cause”— had failed politically, at least temporarily. In her recuperation of God’s cause, Lead argued that the revolution, properly understood, would be “intrinsical.” In her prophecies, Lead unites a radical hermeneutics of Scripture with Jacob Boehme’s concept of God as androgyne in order to reconfigure both God and divine history. According to Lead, Wisdom’s disciples and eventually all of creation were to be—to use a Behmenist keyword—“tinctured” by the Virgin Wisdom’s creating power, until a critical mass was made ready for revolutionary change. The license for this strategy was found in Scripture, especially Proverbs and the Books of Wisdom, in which a Divine Feminine voice of Wisdom speaks directly:

I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was....

When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth... (Prov. 8:1, 22, 29– 32).

Lead’s God is rooted in the desire for a just and compassionate universe, in theological concepts based on the rhythms of woman’s body, and spiri- tual practices devised by Lead and her circle.