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

By Mary-Paula Walsh | Go to book overview

7
Recent and Current Literature
(1986–1996)

The feminist theological literature published since the mid-1980s reflects an increasing differentiation of feminist theological concerns and falls almost into two distinct categories: sources published from 1986 through 1993, and those published from 1994 on, with several feminist Christian writers continuing to "defect in place" (cf. Winter, Lummis and Stokes "153"), as additional and more globally based voices enter the discussion. Overall, four trends characterize the literature.

First, there is a movement away from the critique of patriarchy as a broad and generalized phenomenon, and there is, in its place, a more directed critique of the specific values, structures and symbols (both religious and social) that sustain patriarchy; a shift, as it were, from superstructure to infrastructure. Schüssler Fiorenza's mid-90s works analyzing the assumptions of "kyriarchy" (i.e., theologically based "relations of ruling") evidence this shift "236, 238", as do specific works addressing particular aspects of "patriarchy" and its symbols (e.g., Gray "241", Johnson "232", McFague "244", Plaskow "262", Ruether "235" and Townes "258").

Second, there is an increased attention to the many pluralisms that characterize "women's experience." That is, there is a heightened attention to the racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, demographic, sexual, religious, denominational and cultural differences that identify the experiences of women, as global, evangelical, womanist, Mujerista, Jewish, liberationist, and other critical voices also become "established" and core sources. Thistlethwaite and Engel "276" provide a synthesizing introduction to this literature, while the growing number of: (1) "definitions" of feminist theology (e.g., "264" and "272"), (2) critical reviews (e.g., "277" and "281"), and (3) partial syntheses (e.g., "265" and "269") trace the development of pluralism and multicultural impacts.

Third, in the feminist theological literature published since the mid-80s one finds a distinctively self-critical posture--both in terms of the biases attached to "difference" as an axis of theological analysis and identification "278", and, in the literature published after 1993 specifically, the expectations attached to feminist theology as an academic discipline (cf. "238", "239", "251", "252", "254", "259", and "262"). This last characteristic of the literature is in part a carryover of the heightened attention to "difference" in the theologizing process, and as well, an effect of postmodernism on the literature of "feminism and Christian tradition." Hence the debate ovafeminist methodology (cf., e.g., Eriksson "240" and Jones "267", and see "330, 327" in Chapter 9), as well as the growing reactionary literature, e.g., "287" and "289".

Finally, without question, the literature in Jewish feminist theology "260-263" bursts forth in the mid to late 1990s, with its very presence clearly challenging the conventional assumption that "feminist theology" is a primarily Christian phenomenon. While that latter may be true statistically-given the scope of Christian educational institutions in North America--it is with the rise of feminist theologies distinct from those of Christianity that history's wide, inter-religious questions (such as "redemption") can now, at least initially, be addressed.

Given the scope of the literature through the mid-1990s, readers may wish to scan several article length overviews as anchoring introductions. Among the most helpful for American sources are Graff "280", Schüssler Fiorenza "283", and Finger "279". -Alternatively, see Kwok "281" and Ross "268" for various international sources. Likewise, for more extended and/or book length

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