Feminist theology

Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts and matriarchal religion.

Methodology

Development of theology

According to Grenz and Olson in their review of Feminist Theology, "it was developed in three distinct steps. They begin with a critique of the past” such that they review the ways women have been oppressed; “they seek alternative biblical and extrabiblical traditions that support” the ideals Feminists are trying to advance; and finally “feminists set forth their own unique method of theology, which includes the revisioning of Christian categories.”[1] Grenz and Olson also mention, however, while all feminists agree there is a flaw in the system, there is disagreement over how far outside of the Bible and the Christian tradition women are willing to go to seek support for their ideals.[2]

It has frequently been said that feminist theology draws on women's experience as a basic source of content as well as a criterion of truth. There has been a tendency to treat this principle of "experience" as unique to feminist theology (or, perhaps to liberation theologies) and to see it as distant from "objective" source of truth of classical theologies. This seems to be a misunderstanding of the experimental base of all theological reflection. What have been called the objective sources of theology; Scripture and tradition, are themselves codified collective human experience.[3]

Prehistoric religion and archaeology

The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic "Great Goddess" is advocated by some modern matriarchists as a female version of, preceding, or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean Axis Age.

Mother Nature (sometimes known as Mother Earth) is a common representation of nature that focuses on the life-giving and nurturing features of nature by embodying it in the form of the mother. Images of women representing mother earth, and mother nature, are timeless. In prehistoric times, goddesses were worshipped for their association with fertility, fecundity, and agricultural bounty. Priestesses held dominion over aspects of Incan, Assyrian, Babylonian, Slavonic, Roman, Greek, Indian, and Iroquoian religions in the millennia prior to the inception of Patriarchal religion.

Gender and God

Others who practice feminist spirituality may instead adhere to a feminist re-interpretation of Western monotheistic traditions. In those cases, the notion of God as having a male gender is rejected, and God is not referred to using male pronouns. Feminist spirituality may also object to images of God that they perceive as authoritarian, parental, or disciplinarian, instead emphasizing "maternal" attributes such as nurturing, acceptance, and creativity.

Carol P. Christ is the author of the widely reprinted essay "Why Women Need the Goddess",[4] which argues in favor of the concept of there having been an ancient religion of a supreme goddess. This essay was presented as the keynote address to an audience of over 500 at the "Great Goddess Re-emerging" conference at the University of Santa Cruz in the spring of 1978, and was first published in Heresies: The Great Goddess Issue (1978), pgs. 8-13.[5] Carol P. Christ also co-edited the classic feminist religion anthologies Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (1989) and Womanspirit Rising (1979/1989); the latter included her essay Why Women Need the Goddess.[5]

New Thought movement

New Thought as a movement had no single origin, but was rather propelled along by a number of spiritual thinkers and philosophers and emerged through a variety of religious denominations and churches, particularly the Unity Church, Religious Science, and Church of Divine Science.[6] It was a feminist movement in that most of its teachers and students were women; notable among the founders of the movement were Emma Curtis Hopkins, known as the "teacher of teachers" Myrtle Fillmore, Malinda Cramer, and Nona L. Brooks;[6] with its churches and community centers mostly led by women, from the 1880s to today.[7][8]

Within specific religions

Judaism

Jewish feminism is a movement that seeks to make the religious, legal, and social status of Jewish women equal to that of Jewish men. Feminist movements, with varying approaches and successes, have opened up within all major branches of Judaism.

Various versions of feminist theology exist within the Jewish community.

Some of these theologies promote the idea that it is important to have a feminine characterisation of God within the siddur (Jewish prayerbook) and service.

In 1976, Rita Gross published the article "Female God Language in a Jewish Context" (Davka Magazine 17), which Jewish scholar and feminist Judith Plaskow considers "probably the first article to deal theoretically with the issue of female God-language in a Jewish context".[9][10]  Gross was Jewish herself at this time.[11]

Reconstructionist Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Reform Judaism, Winter 1991) comments:

The experience of praying with Siddur Nashim [the first Sabbath prayer book to refer to God using female pronouns and imagery] ... transformed my relationship with God. For the first time, I understood what it meant to be made in God's image. To think of God as a woman like myself, to see Her as both powerful and nurturing, to see Her imaged with a woman's body, with womb, with breasts – this was an experience of ultimate significance. Was this the relationship that men have had with God for all these millennia? How wonderful to gain access to those feelings and perceptions.

Siddur Nashim was self-published in 1976 by Naomi Janowitz and Margaret Wenig.

In 1990 Rabbi Margaret Wenig wrote the sermon, "God Is a Woman and She Is Growing Older", which as of 2011 has been published ten times (three times in German) and preached by rabbis from Australia to California.[12]

Rabbi Paula Reimers ("Feminism, Judaism, and God the Mother", Conservative Judaism 46 (1993)) comments:

Those who want to use God/She language want to affirm womanhood and the feminine aspect of the deity. They do this by emphasizing that which most clearly distinguishes the female experience from the male. A male or female deity can create through speech or through action, but the metaphor for creation which is uniquely feminine is birth. Once God is called female, then, the metaphor of birth and the identification of the deity with nature and its processes become inevitable

Ahuva Zache affirms that using both masculine and feminine language for God can be a positive thing, but reminds her Reform Jewish readership that God is beyond gender (Is God male, female, both or neither? How should we phrase our prayers in response to God’s gender?, in the Union for Reform Judaism's iTorah, [2]):

Feminine imagery of God does not in any way threaten Judaism. On the contrary, it enhances the Jewish understanding of God, which should not be limited to masculine metaphors. All language that humans use to describe God is only a metaphor. Using masculine and feminine metaphors for God is one way to remind ourselves that gendered descriptions of God are just metaphors. God is beyond gender.

These views are highly controversial even within liberal Jewish movements.[13] Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews hold that it is wrong to use English female pronouns for God, viewing such usage as an intrusion of modern feminist ideology into Jewish tradition. Liberal prayerbooks tend increasingly to also avoid male-specific words and pronouns, seeking that all references to God in translations be made in gender-neutral language. For example, the UK Liberal movement's Siddur Lev Chadash (1995) does so, as does the UK Reform Movement's Forms of Prayer (2008).[14][15] In Mishkan T'filah, the American Reform Jewish prayer book released in 2007, references to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), so also are the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.) [16] In 2015 the Reform Jewish High Holy Days prayer book Mishkan HaNefesh was released; it is intended as a companion to Mishkan T'filah.[17] It includes a version of the High Holy Days prayer Avinu Malkeinu that refers to God as both "Loving Father" and "Compassionate Mother."[17] Other notable changes are replacing a line from the Reform movement’s earlier prayerbook, "Gates of Repentance," that mentioned the joy of a bride and groom specifically, with the line "rejoicing with couples under the chuppah [wedding canopy]", and adding a third, non-gendered option to the way worshippers are called to the Torah, offering “mibeit,” Hebrew for “from the house of,” in addition to the traditional “son of” or “daughter of.”[17]

In 2003 The Female Face of God in Auschwitz: A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust, the first full-length feminist theology of the Holocaust, written by Melissa Raphael, was published.[18] Judith Plaskow’s Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991), and Rachel Adler’s Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (1999) are the only two full-length Jewish feminist works to focus entirely on theology in general (rather than specific aspects such as Holocaust theology.) [19] Thus, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991) is the first book of Jewish feminist theology ever written.

Christianity

Christian feminism is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women in that direction are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity.[20] Christian feminists believe that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically determined characteristics such as sex and race.[21] Their major issues include the ordination of women, male dominance in Christian marriage, recognition of equal spiritual and moral abilities, reproductive rights, and the search for a feminine or gender-transcendent divine.[22][23][24][25][26] Christian feminists often draw on the teachings of other religions and ideologies in addition to biblical evidence.[27]

Two authors whose works are vital to an understanding of feminist theology are Mary Daly and Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Mary Daly grew up an Irish Catholic and all of her education was received through Catholic schools. She has three doctorate degrees. One from St. Mary’s College in sacred theology, and two from University of Fribourg, Switzerland in theology and philosophy. From 1966 till the end of her career she taught at Boston College. While in her early works Daly expressed a desire to reform Christianity from the inside, she would later come to the same point as several other feminists, that Christianity is not able to enact the necessary changes as it is. (Prologue Daly). “On November 14, 1971, when she was invited to be the first woman to preach at Harvard Memorial Chapel. She used the opportunity to denounce Christianity as irredeemable for women and to call for women (and men) to make an exodus from the Church. Almost all the women who attended this service walked out with her, as well as a few men.”[28] Her works include: The Church and the Second Sex (1968), Beyond God the Father (1973), Gyn/ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism (1978), Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy (1984), Webster’s First Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language (1987), and Outercourse: The Be-Dazzling Voyage (1992). According to Ford’s The Modern Theologians, “Mary Daly has done more than anyone to clarify the problems women have concerning the central core symbolism of Christianity, and its effects on their self-understanding and their relationship to God.”[29]

Rosemary Radford Ruether grew up Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools through her sophomore year of high school. She was a classics major at Scripps College, worked for the Delta Ministry in 1965 and taught at Howard University School of Religion from 1966 to 1976.[30] She has also “been responsible for the production of some twenty-two books…and at least five hundred articles.”[31] “Rosemary Ruether has written on the question of Christian credibility, with particular attention to ecclesiology and its engagement with church-world conflicts; Jewish-Christian relations…; politics and religion in America; and Feminism".[32]

In the 1970s Phyllis Trible pioneered a Christian feminist approach to biblical scholarship, using the approach of rhetorical criticism developed by her dissertation advisor, James Muilenburg.[33]:158-159[34][35]

Christian feminist theology has sometimes been critiqued as being focused on white women. This has resulted in the development of movements such as womanist theology, Asian feminist theology, and mujerista theology.

The term Christian egalitarianism is sometimes preferred by those advocating gender equality and equity among Christians who do not wish to associate themselves with the feminist movement. Women apologists have become more visible in Christian academia. Their defense of the faith is differentiated by a more personal, cultural and listening approach "driven by love".[36]

See also: Unity Church, Christian Science, Christian theological praxis and Postmodern Christianity.

Islam

Islamic feminism is a form of feminism concerned with the role of women in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in public and private life. Islamic feminists advocate women's rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. Although rooted in Islam, the movement's pioneers have also utilised secular and European or non-Muslim feminist discourses and recognise the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement.[37] Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the Quran and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Quran (holy book), hadith (sayings of Muhammad) and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society.[38] Muslim majority countries have produced more than seven female heads of state, including Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Mame Madior Boye of Senegal, Tansu Çiller of Turkey, and Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia. Bangladesh was the first country in the world to have consecutive, elected, female heads of state: Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina.[39]

Sikhism

In Sikhism women are equal to men, see the verse from the Sikh scripture the Guru Granth Sahib

"From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all."

— Guru Nanak

Hinduism

Within Ancient Hinduism, women have been held in equal honour as men. Manusmriti for example states: The society that provides respect and dignity to women flourishes with nobility and prosperity. And a society that does not put women on such a high pedestal has to face miseries and failures regardless of how so much noble deeds they perform otherwise. Manusmrithi Chapter 3 Verse 56.

Within the Vedas the Hindu holy texts, women were given the highest possible respect and equality. The Vedic period was glorified by this tradition. Many rishis were women. Indeed, several of them authored many of the slokas in the Vedas. For instance, in the Rigveda there is a list of women rishis. Some of them are: Ghosha, Godha, Gargi, Vishwawra, Apala, Upanishad, Brahmjaya, Aditi, Indrani, Sarma, Romsha, Maitreyi, Kathyayini, Urvashi, Lopamudra, Yami, Shashwati, Sri, Laksha and many others. In the Vedic period women were free to enter into brahmacharya just like men, and attain salvation.

During Hindu marriage ceremonies the following slokas are uttered by the grooms but, these days, their import little understood or ever attempted to understand.

"O bride! I accept your hand to enhance our joint good fortune. I pray to you to accept me as your husband and live with me until our old age. ..." Rigveda Samhita Part -4, sukta 85, sloka 9702

"O bride! May you be like the empress of your mother-in-law, father-in-law, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law (sisters and brothers of the groom). May your writ run in your house." Rigveda Samhita Part -4, sukta 85, sloka 9712

This sloka from the Atharvaveda clearly states that the woman leads and the man follows: "The Sun God follows the first illuminated and enlightened goddess Usha (dawn) in the same manner as men emulate and follow women." Athravaveda Samhita, Part 2, Kanda 27, sukta 107, sloka 5705.

Women were considered to be the embodiment of great virtue and wisdom. Thus we have: "O bride! May the knowledge of the Vedas be in front of you and behind you, in your centre and in your ends. May you conduct your life after attaining the knowledge of the Vedas. May you be benevolent, the harbinger of good fortune and health and live in great dignity and indeed illuminate your husband's home." Atharva Veda 14-1-64. Women were allowed full freedom of worship. "The wife should do agnihotra (yagna), sandhya (puja) and all other daily religious rituals. If, for some reason, her husband is not present, the woman alone has full rights to do yagna". Rigveda Samhita, part 1, sukta 79, sloka 872.

Moving on towards the Monotheistic era of Hinduism when such ideals such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, a specific deity for feministic worship was bought about under the Shaktism branch. From a Hinduism point of view women are equal in all measures to men in comparison.

Neopaganism

Some currents of Neopaganism, in particular Wicca, have a ditheistic concept of a single goddess and a single god, who in hieros gamos represent a united whole. Polytheistic reconstructionists focus on reconstructing polytheistic religions, including the various goddesses and figures associated with indigenous cultures.

The term thealogy is sometimes used in the context of the Neopagan Goddess movement, a pun on theology and thea θεά "goddess" intended to suggest a feminist approach to theism.

The Goddess movement is a loose grouping of social and religious phenomena that grew out of second-wave feminism, predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in the 1970s, and the metaphysical community as well. Spurred by the perception that women were not treated equitably in many religions, some women turned to a Female Deity as more in tune with their spiritual needs. Education in the Arts became a vehicle for the study of humanitarian philosophers like David Hume at that time. A unifying theme of this diverse movement is the femaleness of Deity (as opposed and contrasted to a patriarchal God).

Goddess beliefs take many forms: some people in the Goddess movement recognize multiple goddesses; some also include gods; others honour what they refer to as "the Goddess," which is not necessarily seen as monotheistic, but is often understood to be an inclusive, encompassing term incorporating many goddesses in many different cultures. The term "the Goddess" may also be understood to include a multiplicity of ways to view deity personified as female, or as a metaphor, or as a process. (Christ 1997, 2003) The term "The Goddess" may also refer to the concept of The One Divine Power, or the traditionally worshipped "Great Goddess" of ancient times.

In the latter part of the 20th century, feminism was influential in the rise of Neopaganism in the United States, and particularly the Dianic tradition. Some feminists find the worship of a goddess, rather than a god, to be consonant with their views. Others are polytheists, and worship a number of goddesses. The collective set of beliefs associated with this is sometimes known as thealogy and sometimes referred to as the Goddess movement. See also Dianic Wicca.

Buddhism

Buddhist feminism seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Buddhist perspective and within Buddhism.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Grenz and Olson, p. 227.
  2. ^ Grenz and Olson, p. 229.
  3. ^ Ruether, Rosemary Radford (22 May 1993). Sexism and God-talk: Toward a Feminist Theology : with a New Introduction. Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807012055. Retrieved 22 May 2017 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "per Carol P Christ biography for Signs Out of Time Project".
  5. ^ a b "Goddess Tours Greece-Sacred Sites Tour-Goddess Pilgrimage Crete". Goddess Tours Greece-Sacred Sites Tour-Goddess Pilgrimage Crete. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b Lewis, James R. (1992). Perspectives on the New Age. SUNY Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN 978-0-7914-1213-8.
  7. ^ Harley, Gail M.; Danny L. Jorgensen (2002). Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought. Syracuse University Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8156-2933-7.
  8. ^ Bednarowski, Mary Farrell (1999). The Religious Imagination of American Women. Indiana University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-253-21338-9.
  9. ^ "Jewish Feminist Theology: A Survey". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  10. ^ "Standing at Sinai". Dhushara.com. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  11. ^ Greenspahn, Frederick E. (2011-11-01). Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah: New Insights and Scholarship - Frederick Greenspahn - Google Books. ISBN 9780814733363. Retrieved 2012-07-17.
  12. ^ [1] Archived September 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "This genderless God also represents a profound betrayal of the Torah narrative." Matthew Berke, "God and Gender in Judaism", in Copyright (c) 1996 First Things 64 (June/July 1996): 33–38
  14. ^ The slimline siddur with a touch of Bob Dylan | The Jewish Chronicle
  15. ^ Siddur Lev Chadash Archived July 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (3 September 2007). "In New Prayer Book, Signs of Broad Change". The New York Times.
  17. ^ a b c "'Gates of Repentance' replacement advances Reform trends | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". Jweekly.com. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2015-04-14.
  18. ^ The Female Face of God in Auschwitz: A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust (Religion and Gender): Melissa Raphael: 9780415236652: Amazon.com: Books
  19. ^ "Feminist Theology - Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  20. ^ Harrison, Victoria S. (January 2007). "Modern Women, Traditional Abrahamic Religions and Interpreting Sacred Texts". Feminist Theology. 15 (2): 145–159. doi:10.1177/0966735007072020.
  21. ^ McPhillips, Kathleen (October 1999). "Theme: Feminisms, Religions, Cultures, Identities". Australian Feminist Studies. 14 (30): 255–258. doi:10.1080/08164649993083.
  22. ^ Daggers, Jenny (January 2001). "'Working for Change in the Position of Women in the Church': Christian Women's Information and Resources (CWIRES) and the British Christian Women's Movement, 1972-1990". Feminist Theology. 9 (26): 44–69. doi:10.1177/096673500100002604.
  23. ^ McEwan, Dorothea (September 1999). "The Future of Christian Feminist Theologies--As I Sense it: Musings on the Effects of Historiography and Space". Feminist Theology. 8 (22): 79–92. doi:10.1177/096673509900002206.
  24. ^ Mclntosh, Esther (January 2007). "The Possibility of a Gender-Transcendent God: Taking Macmurray Forward". Feminist Theology. 15 (2): 236–255. doi:10.1177/0966735007072034.
  25. ^ Polinska, Wioleta (September 2004). "In Woman's Image: An Iconography for God". Feminist Theology. 13 (1): 40–61. doi:10.1177/096673500401300104.
  26. ^ Kessel, Edward L. (1983). "A proposed biological interpretation of the Virgin birth". Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. 35: 129–136.
  27. ^ Clack, Beverley (May 1999). "Thealogy and Theology: Mutually Exclusive or Creatively Interdependent?". Feminist Theology. 7 (21): 21–38. doi:10.1177/096673509900002103.
  28. ^ Ruether, p. 217.
  29. ^ Ford, p. 242.
  30. ^ Ruether, p. 222.
  31. ^ Ford, p. 247.
  32. ^ Ford, p. 248.
  33. ^ Tull, Patricia K. (1999). "Chapter 8: Rhetorical Criticism and Intertextuality". In Haynes, Stephen R.; McKenzie, Steven L. (eds.). To each its own meaning : an introduction to biblical criticisms and their applications (Rev. and expanded. ed.). Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0664257842.
  34. ^ "Finding Aid for Phyllis Trible Papers, 1954-2015" (PDF). Archives of Women in Theological Scholarship The Burke Library Columbia University Libraries Union Theological Seminary, New York. 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  35. ^ Vater, Ann M. (1980). "Review of God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality". Journal of Biblical Literature. 99 (1): 131–133. doi:10.2307/3265712. JSTOR 3265712.
  36. ^ Dilley, Andrea Palpant. "The Unexpected Defenders". Christianity Today. 59(April 2015)3. p. 40 CT online edition
  37. ^ II International Congress on Islamic Feminism Archived December 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Margot Badran. "Al-Ahram Weekly | Culture | Islamic feminism: what's in a name?". weekly.ahram.org.eg. Archived from the original on 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
  39. ^ Women Who Rule: 10 Firsts - MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 2009-08-20.

References

  • Ford, David F., ed. (1997). The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian theology in the twentieth century (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: B. Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19592-4.
  • Grenz, Stanley J.; Olson, Roger E. (1997). 20th-Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1525-8.
  • Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Women and Redemption: A Theological History (2nd ed.). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-9816-4.

Bibliography

  • Anderson, Pamela Sue. A Feminist Philosophy of Religion: The Rationality and Myths of Religious Belief (Oxford; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1998) ISBN 978-0-631-19383-8.
  • Anderson, Pamela Sue; Clack, Beverley (eds.) Feminist Philosophy of Religion: Critical Readings (London: Routledge, 2004) ISBN 978-0-415-25749-7.
  • Kassian, Mary A. The Feminist Gospel: the Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1992. ISBN 0-89107-652-2
  • Stone, Merlin, compiler. Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood: a Treasury of Goddess and Heroine Lore from around the World. Updated with a new pref. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990. N.B.: Edition statement appears on the paperback book's cover, but not upon the t.p. or its verso. ISBN 0-8070-6751-2
  • Stone, Merlin. When God Was a Woman. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt-Brace-Jovanovich Publishers, cop. 1976. ISBN 0-15-696158-X.

External links

Asian feminist theology

Asian feminist theology is a Christian feminist theology developed to be especially relevant to women in Asia. Inspired by both liberation theology and feminist theology, it aims to contextualize them to the conditions and experiences of Asian women.

Buddhist feminism

Buddhist feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal, and social status of women within Buddhism. It is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Buddhist perspective. The Buddhist feminist Rita Gross describes Buddhist feminism as "the radical practice of the co-humanity of women and men."

Christian feminism

Christian feminism is a school of Christian theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women, and an acknowledgment of women's value, are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity. Christian feminists believe that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically-determined characteristics such as sex and race, but created all humans to exist in harmony and equality, reguardless of race or gender. Christian feminists generally advocate for anti-essentialism as a part of their belief system, acknowledging that gender identities do not mandate a certain set of personality traits. Their major issues include the ordination of women, biblical equality in marriage, recognition of equal spiritual and moral abilities, reproductive rights, integration of gender neutral pronouns within readings of the Bible, and the search for a feminine or gender-transcendent divine. Christian feminists often draw on the teachings of other religions and ideologies in addition to biblical evidence, and other Christian based texts throughout history that advocate for women's rights.The term Christian egalitarianism is often preferred by those advocating gender equality and equity among Christians who do not wish to associate themselves with the feminist movement.

Feminist Theology (journal)

Feminist Theology is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers four times a year in the field of Theology. The journal's editors are Lisa Isherwood (University of Winchester), Lillalou Hughes, Beverley Clack (Westminster Institute of Education) and Janet Wootton. It has been in publication since 1992 and is published by SAGE Publications in association with the Britain and Ireland School of Feminist Theology (BISFT).

Feminist effects on society

The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women's suffrage; greater access to education; more equitable pay with men; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the right of women to make individual decisions regarding pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the right to own property. Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker argues that feminism has reduced domestic violence, especially against men as their likelihood of being killed by a female intimate partner has decreased six-fold.

Gender in Bible translation

Gender in Bible translation concerns various issues, such as the gender of God and generic antecedents in reference to people. Many in today’s churches have become conscious of and concerned about sexism. Bruce Metzger states the English language is so biased towards the male gender that it may restrict and obscure meaning from original languages. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was one of the first major translations to adopt gender-neutral language. The King James Version translated at least one passage using a technique that many now reject in other translations, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). The Greek word υἱοὶ that appears in the original is usually translated as "sons", but in this passage the translators chose to use the term "children" that included both genders. Opponents of gender neutral language believe that readers who are not familiar with the original languages, can be influenced by a compromised meaning they believe is feminist.There are two translations that are particularly notable for their efforts to take radical steps in this regard, both explaining their reasons and their techniques in their front matter. The titles of the two translations are similar, but the two translations are distinct. The first is The Inclusive New Testament (1994), the second is The New Testament and Psalms: an Inclusive Version (1995). The first one deliberately tried to make the text agree with their creed, pointing out that when they saw problems with the message of the text "it becomes our license to introduce midrash into the text" (p. xxi). It is an original translation. The second one, however, is based on the NRSV, making changes as the editorial team saw fit, but being less radical to change the message of the original.

Gender of God

The gender of God can be viewed as a literal or as an allegorical aspect of a deity. In polytheistic religions, gods are more likely to have literal sexes which would enable them to interact with each other, and even with humans, in a sexual way.

In most monotheistic religions, one cannot apply a gender to God in the usual sense, as God's attributes cannot be compared to those of any other being. Thus, the idea of a "divine gender" is ultimately considered an analogy, used by humans in order to better relate to the concept of God, with no sexual connotation.

God is an intangible spirit in most religions and is therefore thought to have no gender. The preponderance of references to God in both the Old and New Testaments are in the context of a masculine reference, often "Father". However, there are a significant number of feminine allegorical references to God, most often in some maternal role.

Holy Wisdom

Holy Wisdom (Greek Ἁγία Σοφία, Latin Sancta Sapientia, Russian Святая София Премудрость Божия "Holy Sophia, Divine Wisdom") is a concept in Christian theology.

Christian theology received the Old Testament personification of Wisdom (Hebrew Chokhmah) as well as the concept of Wisdom (Sophia) from Greek philosophy, especially Platonism.

In Christology, Christ the Logos as God the Son was identified with Divine Wisdom from earliest times.

The identification of Holy Wisdom with God the Son remains particularly pronounced in Eastern Orthodoxy, while the Latin Rite has placed more emphasis of the identication of God the Son with the Logos.

There has also been a minority position which identified Wisdom with the Holy Spirit instead. Furthermore, in mystical interpretations forwarded in Russian Orthodoxy, known as Sophiology, Holy Wisdom as a feminine principle came to be identified with the Theotokos (Mother of God) rather than with Christ himself. Similar interpretations were proposed in feminist theology as part of the "God and Gender" debate in the 1990s.

Judith Plaskow

Judith Plaskow (born March 14, 1947 in Brooklyn) is Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. Her scholarly interests focus on contemporary religious thought with a specialization in feminist theology. Plaskow has lectured widely on feminist theology in the United States and Europe. She co-founded The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and co-edited it for its first ten years. She is past President of the American Academy of Religion.

She received a B.A. from Clark University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

She came out as a lesbian in the 1980s.In 1981 she helped found the Jewish feminist group B'not Esh (Daughters of Fire).Plaskow has written two books, Sex, Sin and Grace: Women's Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich (1980) and Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991), as well as a collection of essays entitled The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics (2005). Her book Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991) is the first book of Jewish feminist theology ever written.She has co-edited three books: Women and Religion (1973), Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (1979), and Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (1989). She has also published numerous articles in edited volumes and journals. She also wrote chapter 14 of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion (2004), edited by Ann Braude.

Kwok Pui-lan

Kwok Pui-lan (Chinese: 郭佩蘭, born 1952) is a Hong Kong-born feminist theologian known for her work on Asian feminist theology and postcolonial theology.

Marcella Althaus-Reid

Marcella Maria Althaus-Reid (Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina 11 May 1952 – Edinburgh, Scotland 20 February 2009) was Professor of Contextual Theology at New College, the University of Edinburgh. When appointed, she was the only woman professor of theology at a Scottish University and the first woman professor of theology at New College in its 160-year history.She was born in Rosario, province of Santa Fe, Argentina, and graduated with a Bachelor in Theology Degree from ISEDET, the Protestant University Institute in Buenos Aires. She completed her Ph.D at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her interests included liberation theology, feminist theology and queer theology.

Matriarchal religion

A matriarchal religion is a religion that focuses on a goddess or goddesses. The term is most often used to refer to theories of prehistoric matriarchal religions that were proposed by scholars such as Johann Jakob Bachofen, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Marija Gimbutas, and later popularized by second-wave feminism. In the 20th century, a movement to revive these practices resulted in the Goddess movement.

Melting the Venusberg

Melting the Venusberg: A Feminist Theology of Music is a 2004 book by Heidi Epstein, in which the author provides a critique of the foundations of the understanding of Western music. She argues that this understanding has reinforced social prejudices, particularly those against women and this is more evident in religious music.

Sophiology

Sophiology (Russian: Софиология, by detractors also called Sophianism

Софианство or Sophism Софизм) is a controversial school of thought in Russian Orthodoxy which holds that Divine Wisdom (or Sophia) is to be identified with God's essence, and that the Divine Wisdom is in some way expressed in the world as 'creaturely' wisdom. This notion has often been misunderstood as introducing a feminine "fourth hypostasis" into the Trinity .The controversy has roots in the early modern period, but Sophiology as a theological doctrine was formulated during the 1890s to 1910s by Vladimir Solovyov (1853–1900), Pavel Florensky (1882–1937) and Sergey Bulgakov (1871–1944).In 1935, parts of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov's doctrine of Sophia were condemned by the Patriarch of Moscow and other Russian Orthodox hierarchs.Thomas Merton studied the Russian Sophiologists and praised Sophia in his poem titled "Hagia Sophia" (1963).Johnson (1993) and Meehan (1996) noted parallels between the Russian "sophiological" controversy and the Gender of God debate in western feminist theology.

The Hebrew Goddess

The Hebrew Goddess is a 1967 book by Jewish historian and anthropologist Raphael Patai, in which the author argues that historically, the Jewish religion had elements of polytheism, especially the worship of goddesses and a cult of the mother goddess.

Thealogy

Thealogy views divine matters with feminine perspectives including but not only feminism. Valerie Saiving, Isaac Bonewits (1976) and Naomi Goldenberg (1979) introduced the concept as a neologism (new word) in feminist terms. Its use then widened to mean all feminine ideas of the sacred, which Charlotte Caron usefully explained in 1993: "reflection on the divine in feminine or feminist terms". By 1996, when Melissa Raphael published Thealogy and Embodiment, the term was well established.As a neologism, the term derives from two Greek words: thea, θεά, meaning "goddess", the feminine equivalent of theos, "god" (from PIE root *dhes-); and logos, λόγος, plural logoi, often found in English as the suffix -logy, meaning "word", "reason" or "plan", and in Greek philosophy and theology the divine reason implicit in the cosmos.Thealogy has areas in common with feminist theology, the study of God from a feminist perspective, often emphasising monotheism. Thus the relation is an overlap as thealogy is not limited to deity in spite of its etymology; the two fields have been described as both related and interdependent.

Tridevi

The Tridevi (English: three goddesses; Sanskrit: त्रिदेवी, tridevī) is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on the denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. In Shaktism, these triune goddesses are the manifestations of goddess Yogmaya also known by the names of Adi Parashakti, Devi.

In the Navaratri ("nine nights") festival, "the Goddess is worshiped in three forms. During the first three nights, Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night."

When God Was a Woman

When God Was a Woman is the U.S. title of a 1976 book by sculptor and art historian Merlin Stone. It was published earlier in the United Kingdom as The Paradise Papers: The Suppression of Women's Rites. It has been translated into French as Quand Dieu était femme (SCE-Services Complets d'Edition, Québec, Canada) in 1978, into Dutch as Eens was God als Vrouw belichaamd – De onderdrukking van de riten van de vrouw in 1979, into German as Als Gott eine Frau war in 1989 and into Italian as Quando Dio era una donna in 2011.

Stone spent approximately ten years engaged in research of the lesser-known, sometimes hidden depictions of the Sacred Feminine, from European and Middle Eastern societies, in preparation to complete this work. In the book, she describes these archetypal reflections of women as leaders, sacred entities and benevolent matriarchs, and also weaves them into a larger picture of how our modern societies grew to the present imbalanced state. Possibly the most controversial/debated claim in the book is Stones' interpretation of how peaceful, benevolent matriarchal society and Goddess-reverent traditions (including Ancient Egypt) were attacked, undermined and ultimately destroyed almost completely, by the ancient tribes including Hebrews and later the early Christians. To do this they attempted to destroy any visible symbol of the sacred feminine, including artwork, sculpture, weavings and literature. The reason being that they wanted the Sacred Masculine to become the dominant power, and rule over women and Goddess energies. According to Stone, the Torah or Old Testament was in many ways a male attempt to re-write the story of human society, changing feminine symbolism to masculine.

The book is now seen as having been instrumental in the modern rise of feminist theology in the 1970s to 1980s, along with authors such as Elizabeth Gould Davis, Riane Eisler and Marija Gimbutas. Some have related it as well to the work of authors Margaret Murray and Robert Graves.

Womanist theology

Womanist theology is a religious conceptual framework which reconsiders and revises the traditions, practices, scriptures, and biblical interpretation with a special lens to empower and liberate African-American women in America. Womanist theology associates with and departs from Feminist theology and Black theology specifically because it integrates the perspectives and experiences of African American and other women of color. The former's lack of attention to the everyday realities of women of color and the latter's lack of understanding of the full dimension of liberation from the unique oppressions of black women require bringing them together in Womanist Theology. The goals of womanist theology include interrogating the social construction of black womanhood in relation to the black community and to assume a liberatory perspective so African American women can live emboldened lives within the African American community and within the larger society. Some of its tasks are excavating the life stories of poor women of African descent in the church and to understanding the "languages" of black women.

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