Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Introducing Feminist Theology

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Introducing Feminist Theology

Article excerpt

Introducing Feminist Theology. By Anne M. Clifford. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2001. xi + 287 pp. $21.00 (paper).

In an era of heightened awareness of women's consciousness of themselves as women, sources of and about women that have long gone unnoticed or were at best pushed to the periphery are moved to the center and are the focus of Christian theology to which the important adjective "feminist" is attached (from the Introduction).

For anyone interested in a comprehensive overview of feminist theology in its historical and contemporary contexts. Introducing Feminist Theology is well worth the read. Anne M. Clifford, associate professor of theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, has produced a work which will appeal to seasoned scholars and theological novices alike.

Clifford lays the foundation for her study by asking the key questions of "what?" and "why?" regarding feminism in general and Christian feminist theology in particular. She elucidates the history of feminism and its theological counterpart through their three distinct "waves" beginning in the late eighteenth century to the present, giving the reader a clear picture of the evolution of feminist thought. Further, her division of contemporary feminist theology into "revolutionary," "reformist," and "reconstructionist" modes of critique is helpful for those who find themselves overwhelmed by the incredible diversity of perspectives within feminism and feminist theology.

Adhering to the feminist disavowal of a supposed "universal" perspective, Clifford transparently identifies herself and her work with the reconstmctionist (or revisionist) thread within the tapestry. It is through this particular theological lens that the author pursues her study, while at the same time allowing other voices, from the pre-critical to the post-Christian, to share their own unique wisdom. This ability to present a very wide range of positions is one of the features which makes Clifford's book a truly useful introduction and summary.

Drawing on the work of European, Euro-American, Womanist, Hispanic, African, and Asian theologians, Clifford drafts a comprehensive map of feminist perspectives. After guiding the reader through the history of the field, she addresses the question of the use of Scripture within feminist theology, focusing attention on the importance of social, political, and economic "location" within feminist biblical hermeneutics. Moving into theology proper. Clifford faces head-on the thorny issues of God-language, Trinitarian debate, and atonement theories as they have had an impact on women's lives throughout the history of patriarchal theology. …

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