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FEMINIST-THEOLOGY

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					DEVELOPMENTS IN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT (THEOLOGY) A1: FEMINIST THEOLOGY

      LIKE LIBERATION THEOLOGY…it’s a contextual theology.
      Theology adapted for the circumstances … is this legitimate


THE BIBLE
    Use of Bible important obviously in interpreting the role of women in Christianity - PROBLEM
       IS BIBLICAL IMAGE OF WOMEN.
    Some RADICAL FEMINIST THEOLOGIANS argue THE TRADITION (Church/Bible) needs be
       REJECTED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM. Others think it can be reformed. Others that
       WOMEN ARE MADE VISIBLE in the narratives … been obscured by PATRIARCHIAL Church
       hierarchy.

OLD TESTAMENT
    OT – STEREOTYPE OF WOMEN – paragons or prostitutes. High moral status or dangerous.
    The Law in OT times stacked against women. A man . could divorce his wife but not the other
      way round (Deut 24) – Jesus anti-Divorce teaching in MARK 10 designed to protect women…
      Man could subject woman to physical tests to assess VIRTUE.
    EVE – Gen 2: created from Adam’s ribs. Eve subordinate to Adam? Yet, modern writers explain
      this that before Adam created he was not a man but a sexless creature and w riter of Genesis
      wants men and women to be seen as dependent on one another.
    REBECCA – Gen 27 – DELIALH – Judges 16 – JEZEBEL – 1 Kings 21 . Powerful women. Use
      sexuality to tempt men away from carrying out God’s commands.
    PROVERBS – Proverbs 27 – This book presents the Wisdom of God in the form of the woman
      who bestows virtue and the woman who lures men away from vice. SYMBOLIC OF MIXED
      TEACHING ON WOMEN.
    ESTHER AND RUTH: There is a book dedicated to each of these in OT. Esther rescued the
      Jews and is brave whilst the widow Ruth uses her knowledge of the Jewish Law and her faith in
      God to be saved from poverty through a marriage she engineers.
    VIRTUOUS WOMAN – Proverbs 31 – Describes qualities of virtuous woman.

JESUS’ TEACHING
    Challenges the above stereotypes.
    Role of woman emphasised in the Gospels.
    The women are the first to witness The Resurrection. The women flee from the Tomb in Mark
       bearing the Message.
    Jesus ignores CLEANLINESS LAWS by healing the woman from internal bleeding in Mark 5.
       She would have been regarded as an outcast.
    Jesus talks to THE SAMARITAN WOMAN in John 4. She was a) a Samaritan and b) had many
       lovers. JESUS OFFERS THE WOMAN NEW LIFE REGARDLESS OF PATRIARCHIAL
       SOCIETY.

OTHER NT TEACHING
    Acts: This is an early book about the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. he women here have
     important functions in setting up the earliest Christian communities. In particular LYDIA and
     PRISCILLA and AQUILA are mentioned.

      PAUL: AMBIVALENT on the role of women. There is the famous passage in Galatians 3 –
       “THERE IS NIETHER JEW NOT GREEK, THERE IS NIETHER SlAVE OR FREE, THERE IS
       NIETHER MALE OR FEMALE, FOR ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST JESUS.” He seems to be
       arguing that through Baptism we are RESTORED to what we were at creation where all are
       equal.
      But … So-called problem passages
      “WIVES, BE SUBJECT TO YOUR HUSBANDS” (COL 3.18)
      “LET WOMEN LEARN SILENCE WITH ALL SUBMISSIVENESS. I PERMIT NO WOMAN TO
       TEACH OR HAVE AUTHORITY OVER ME; SHE IS TO KEEP SILENT” (1 TIM 2)
      “THE HEAD OF EVERY MAN IN CHRIST, THE HEAD OF A WOMAN IS HER HUSBAND AND
       THE HEAD OF CHRIST IS GOD” (1 COR 11)
      Is there are God-given natural order? Where do things come from and where do women feature
       on the scale? The situation of the letters is interesting. Scholars think that in 1 Timothy lots of
       women were abandoning their role in home to lead the Church. Hence the critique.
      When Paul mentions HEAD, some Scholars translate that as SOURCE. This softens Paul’s
       argument. Puts emphasis on husband and wife relationship.

   IS CHURCH TRADITION SEXIST?
AUGUSTINE
    Rejected the traditional interpretation of Genesis that women were created with fewer rational
       powers than men.
  THIS CONTRADICTS CHRISTIAN TEACHING ON SPIRITUAL EQUALITY, he says. He
   rejected the view that God created man separately to be served by the woman.
 BUT For Augustine:
1. Both male and female are created in the image of God. They are in God’s rational nature. The
   woman’s body though is symbolically different – she is ruled over by the man. She is designed
   to be his “help mate”
2. Eve is subordinate to man in practical reason and everyday affairs as Eve was created from
   Adam.
 The woman has an OBEDIENT SELF directed to man. She is to be a wife and a mother. Man’s
   OBEDIENT SELF is to worship God.
 Augustine uses St Paul’s idea to show she should wear a VEIL BECAUSE she is the glory of
   man JUST AS MOSES HAD TO HIDE FROM GOD ON SINAI.
 In his later thought, Augustine believed the sex drive and death were punishment for human
   rebellion. Both conditions would remind men and women of their distorted, sinful will and loss of
   harmony between body and soul.

AQUINAS
 Just as Plato’s dualism influenced Augustine, so ARISTOTLE, of course, influenced Aquinas.
   Interesting link with Philosophy.
 Aquinas saw man as the one who had to take God’s creative role in the world, to subdue it and
   act as steward.
 Woman was created second and the role did not extend to her.
 God is the FIRST PRINCIPLE of the Universe and
 man THE FIRST PRINCIPLE of woman.
 Man was the beginning and end of woman.
 WOMAN CANNOT BE MADE FROM GOD IN THE SAME WAY AS MAN.
 WOMAN is the active principle of human existence whereas woman is PASSIVE.
 Woman is therefore DEFECTIVE in comparison.
 However, without woman, the necessary generation of the species could not have occurred.
 Aquinas took it as biological fact from Aristotle was man’s sperm contained the ingredients for
   life. Women provides the right context for germination and growth.
 Therefore a woman’s TELOS or purpose in ARISTOTLE’S TERMS was to CREATE. A female
   foetus receives soul after 90 days, a male after 40 days.
 Aquinas – sex should only occur in marriage. Marriage should be a permanent state. The telos
   of our reproductive organs is to PROCREATE. Sex is for PROCREATION. Faith is also
   essential as people are united in mind and body.

MODERN FEMINIST THEOLOGY


                                                                    th
    Feminism is an intellectual concept developing since the late 18 century . Became a political
               th
    force in 20 century.
   FIRST STAGE OR WAVE – Affected by liberal views of philosophers such as Kant and Mill.
    Emphasis here on women’s rights, liberties and the law
   SECOND WAVE – First wave not radical enough. Inspired by economic philosophy of Marx.
    REOLUTION ON CONCIOUSNESS NEEDED. The deeper structures of society need
    transformed. Fully liberated and emancipated women needed. NO patriarchy.

THREE TYPES OF FT
  Adopts and adapts FEMINISM. Is CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY.
  1. LIBERAL . First wave feminism. Equality of rights. Here the significance of Biblical women
     is demonstrated. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote THE WOMAN’S BIBLE in 1895…men’s
     invention not God’s inspiration any part of Bible to offer subordination to women.

    2. RECONSTRUCTIONIST FEMINIST THEOLOGY – Second wave. Notion of praxis or social
       action. Applied to women difficulties. ELISABETH SCHUSSLER FIORENZA have
       developed a hermeneutic of suspicion to revise BIBLE INTERPRETATION showing how
       patriarchy dominated Church and University. Fiorenza’s book iN MEMORY OF HER
       draws on the Woman who anoints Jesus in Mark 14. ROSEMARY RADGORD RUETHER
       has re-shaped the language of God to include woman’s experience. She has looked to
       other texts outside the OT tradition. She looks at the mystic Julian of Norwich who refers to
       Jesus as Mother because he is the PERSONAL SIDE OF GOD.
       RECONSTRUCTIONIST FEMINISTS have suggested that the opening of John’s Gospel
       may be read as a poem about SOPHIA becoming flesh in the form of Jesus. SOPHIA is the
       Greek for Wisdom – A FEMININE NOUN. Jesus could be defined here as MALE AND
       FEMALE IDEAS.
        3. RADICAL POST-CHRISTIAN FEMINIST THEOLOGY rejects the above tinkering with
           theology. For MARY DALY we need to abandon God and all God represents and reclaim
           power as humans. She sees Jesus as a revolutionary abandoning religion for a truly
           human life. The Bible is fundamentally sexist. She rejects Paul’s idea there is no male and
           female in Christ as she rejects that men and women are fundamentally the same. A NEW
           LANGUAGE NEEDS TO BE CREATED TO EMPOWER WOMEN TO BE. DAPHNE
           HAMPSON is a theist where God is the goodness of human experience. However we need
           to revise our patriarchal notion of God.


        CRITICISMS OF FEMINIST THEOLOGY
        1. Can Christian theology adapt itself to such non-religious or secular theories. Secular
           feminists, after all, are suspicious of religious ideas. Can one be a religious feminists given
           that many feminists blame religion for the problem?!

        2. RECONSTRUCTIONIST AND RADICCAL FT undermines the DUALITY of God and us. If
           you believe God is Mother Nature you turn religion into PANTHEISM – this holds that all
           nature is divine and ignores the fundamental monotheistic distinction between Creator and
           creatures.

        3. TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON FEMALE EXPPERIENCE AT THE EXPPENSE OF
           CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE. Why not develop a theology of equality rather than a specific
           Feminist Theology.

        4. SHOULD WE CALL GOD SHE. Good is ineffable…beyond ordinary language. Should we
           use any gender language to talk about God? Using female language alienates men.

        5. ARE FEMINIST INTERPRETATIONS OF BIBLE TEXTS LEGITIMATE – Are they reading
           into things?

        6. WHAT ABOUT THE SPECIAL PLACE OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN SO-CALLED SEXIST
           CHRISTIANITY.

        7. TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS UNDDERMINES IMPORTANCE OF
           THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY. Destabilises the family as building block
           of society.


TWO PRACTICAL ISSUES – WOMEN IN CHRISTIAN LIFE TODAY
  1. Role as ministers and priests?
  2. Role as mothers and wives?

               Traditional idea was that woman couldn’t have public role in workplace or in the running
                of the Church. 1992 – Church of England approves of the ordination of women.
               Question now for the Church of England is whether they can become Bishops.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST WOMAN PRIESTS
        Only a man can represent Jesus at Holy Communion
        Jesus appointed men as apostles and commissioned Peter as rock of the Church
        Man was created before woman
        Man is public ally the head of woman (Eph 5)



ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF WOMAN PRIESTS
    NT records role of women as leaders
    Gnostic Christianity head woman as leaders – alternative to mainstream
    Thecla had powers of preaching like Saint Paul. Indicates women important in development of
     Church.

MARRIAGE is regarded in traditional theology as the only legitimate place for sexual relationships
between men and women and for the rearing of children

RECONSTRUCTIONIST FT asks whether marriage is about patriarchy and social control. Do we need
to get rid of this structure? Women need to be freed from their role as Reproducers say some
feminists. Need more radical ideas over employment roles and expectations. This can empower women
to go out to work and break the shackles.

				
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