Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Feminist Companion to John

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

A Feminist Companion to John

Article excerpt

A Feminist Companion to John. Edited by Amy-Jill Levine with Marianne Blickenstaff. 2 vols. Feminist Companion to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003. Vol. 1: xiv + 246 pp.; vol. 2: xiii + 226 pp. $120.00 per vol. (cloth).

These volumes bring together articles by sixteen different contributors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. The contributions, not all of which can be mentioned individually in this brief review, represent a variety of approaches-so much so that, as the editor acknowledges (vol. 2, p. 11), it is not easy to specify what defines them all as "feminist." At the most basic level, however, it is their focus on gender combined with an interest in freeing women's voices from a history of repression and marginalization. Two authors press this interest further to include the voices of sexual minorities (Mona West) and non-Western or non-Christian religions (Satoko Yamaguchi).

The focus on gender does not predetermine all the results of reading. Some contributors, for example, see primarily positive elements in the treatment of gender in the fourth gospel, while others read it in a significantly negative way. Indeed, the approach can allow for quite different readings of the same passages, that is, in the three articles devoted primarily to Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman (Stephen D. Moore, Jerome H. Neyrey, Jane S. Webster).

Some contributions focus on historical issues, as in Adele Reinhartz's cautious attempt to draw from the fourth gospel a picture of women in the community where it was written. Others minimize historical and cultural distance, as when F. Scott Spencer analyzes Jesus' conversations with women in tenus of modem theory about differences between male and female uses of language.

The collection illustrates both the virtues and the defects of feminist interpretive approaches. Looking at the texts from perspectives unlike the predominantly male audience that most first-ccntury authors scorn to have assumed throws unexpected elements into relief. …

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