Feminism and Christian Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography and Critical Introduction to the Literature

By Mary-Paula Walsh | Go to book overview

6
Core and Discipline
Defining Works
(1978–1985)

This chapter presents the core and discipline defining feminist theological works published between 1978 and 1985, which, together with the literature from the previous chapter, ground the reader for current sources and the topical literatures presented later in the bibliography. The early critical responses to these core sources are also surveyed (e.g., Grant "214", Heyward and Hunt "217" and Kwok "219").

Several emphases characterize these core sources. First, there is a decreasing salience of affiliational and/or denominational heritage relative to particular topics, such that a topic would be perceived as a specifically denominational (i.e., "Protestant" or "Catholic") issue. At the same time, there is the increased salience of collaboration as a feminist theological value. These shifts do not mean that inherited traditions are without value or impact. Rather, they suggest that--at least initially--the bridge of "women's experience" cuts across various aspects of male histories and theologies, and that this widening of horizons is recognized as a necessary and legitimate theological development. Put differently, this literature responds to the questions of how and in what ways women's experience is a theological resource, both in terms of the developing autonomy of women's spirituality, and the legitimacy of one's gendered-religious experience and the traditions of one's early and/or professional socialization. These emphases are evident in various biblical and systematic works published through 1985 (cf. Trible "205", Schüssler Fiorenza "194", "195", "196", Borressen "189", Ruether "190", "191", "192", "193", Heyward "198", McFague "200", Plaskow "203"). They are also evident in the many edited and multiply authored works published during these years (e.g., Christ and Plaskow "206", Harrison and Robb "207", Ruether and McLaughlin "209", Russell "210", and Weidman "213").

A third and related characteristic of this literature is its growing recognition of the tensions inherent in its acknowledged but not fully appropriated "multicultural" or pluralized social base. These tensions present conceptual and methodological challenges to feminist theology, both because stated positions and individual theologians carry uncritically held assumptions about "otherness" within their works (e.g., Grant "214" and Kwok "219", and see Kalven and Buckley "208") and because these premises are socially embedded within the profession of theology itself (cf. "807", and see the literature in Chapter 20 on "Feminist Theology, the Academy and Theological Education"). The sources below reflect these varying concerns, with single-authored works presented first, and edited and/or multiply authored works then following.

Some final notes about the literature of this period: First, almost all of the topical literatures in feminist theology take shape in this period (e.g., feminist theology's formal methodological pieces, the early literature on women's spirituality, feminist biblical studies and feminist theology's critique of heterosexism), but because each of these literatures really is a topic in its own right, they are presented in Section III of the bibliography. (See for example, Chapters 9, 10, 14, and 15 respectively.) Second, while the main sources by such key thinkers as Beverly Harrison, Carter Heyward, Judith Plaskow, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Letty Russell, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Phyllis Trible are all presented in this chapter, the reader is urged to consult the Author Index for the full listings for each of these authors, since their works cover such varying ranges of concern. Third and last, although they are few in number, the four journals most associated with feminist theology, i.e., Daughters of Sarah"225", the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion"226", the Journal of Women and Religion"227", and the Jewish feminist publication

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