A new book offers a critical examination of the Twilight series from both a theological and feminist standpoint. In The Gospel according to Twilight: Women, Sex, and God (Westminster John Knox Press), author Elaine A. Heath analyzes the disturbing messages about women, marriage, and family Stephenie Meyer could be sending to young readers of the popular series, particularly through its gender stereotypes and depictions of violence against women. The book comes just as Breaking Dawn, Part One prepares to hit theatres on November 18, 2011.

Heath is not adverse to all aspects of the series, however. Her analysis also considers the “good news” found in Twilight’s theological themes of salvation, reconciliation, and love. Moreover, Heath suggests the characters of Edward, Carlisle, and Bella act as a “triad of saviors,” and deliberates the possibility of Bella as a Christ figure. She also explores the treatment of organized religion in the series, and considers how Meyer’s Mormon belief system affects her theology within Twilight, and how it could influence readers’ interpretation. Twilight’s treatment of the concepts of sin, heaven, hell, and resurrection is also examined.

The Gospel according to Twilight also includes questions for youth and adult groups or for classroom discussions.

Elaine A. Heath is Associate Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. An active participant in Emergent Village and the emerging church conversation, she is the cofounder of New Day, a new monastic community in Dallas, Texas. She is an ordained Methodist minister.