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Changing Horizons

Explorations in Feminist Interpretation

by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Publication Year: 2013

Changing Horizons is the second of two volumes highlighting the ways in which Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s work constructs a critical feminist theory and praxis of liberation, in relation to the biblical text and its legacy, and in relation to the theological and ecclesial setting of today. In these essays collected from her extraordinary career, Schüssler Fiorenza attempts to free both biblical studies and theology from disciplinary constraints and assumptions that have allowed them to acquiesce and even perpetuate forms of oppression—from racism and poverty to colonialism and gender equality.

While Schüssler Fiorenza’s feminist critical approach begins with the experience of women, that experience is appropriated through the lens of critical theory and a critical understanding of social and religious oppressions. It is, further, political in its aim to dethrone kyriarchal structures and foment genuinely egalitarian community in church and society.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Many people have been involved in producing this collection of essays and many thanks are in order. I am grateful to the editors and publishers who originally edited and published these articles; many of them were written by a young, emerging scholar. As the senior editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, ...


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pp. 1-4

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pp. 5-22

Fifty years ago feminist biblical studies was not yet born. Today it is a growing, developing, and stimulating field of study.1 I am often asked: With whom did you study feminist the*logy? And I unfailingly answer: When I studied the*logy2 in the 1960s, feminist the*logy and feminist studies in religion did not exist. ...

Part I. Charting Critical Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics

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1. Interpreting Patriarchal Traditions

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pp. 25-40

The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures originated in a patriarchal society and perpetuated the androcentric (male-centered) traditions of their culture. Today, feminist analyses have uncovered the detrimental effects of these traditions on women’s self-understanding and role in society and in the churches. ...

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2. Toward a Christian Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics: Biblical Interpretation and Liberation Theology

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pp. 41-58

To discuss the relationship between liberation theology and biblical interpretation in general, and to ask for the function of the Bible in the struggle of women for liberation in particular, is to enter an intellectual and emotional minefield. One must detect and lay bare the contradictions between historical exegesis and systematic theology, ...

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3. Feminist Interpretation and New Testament Studies

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pp. 59-70

In reconstructing the past, exegetes and theologians construct the world. What we live in is not an objectified reality but an intellectual universe that we create socially and imaginatively. Our ideas, values, social institutions, belief-systems, and theological convictions together produce a sense of life and reality, a perception of the way things are. ...

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4. For the Sake of the Truth Dwelling among Us: Emerging Issues in Feminist Biblical Interpretation

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pp. 71-88

The second letter of John—the only writing of the New Testament addressed to a woman—was written “for the sake of the truth that dwells among us and will be with us forever.” Biblical interpretation as theological interpretation is concerned with the divine presence dwelling among the people of God in the past and in the present. ...

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5. The Will to Choose or to Reject: Continuing Our Critical Work

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pp. 89-100

Adrienne Rich has pointed out that this poem of Emily Dickinson’s is a poem of great pride and self-confirmation, of transcending the patriarchal condition, of movement from unconsciousness to consciousness. She cautions us, however, not to give it a theological reading, ...

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6. Feminist Hermeneutics

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pp. 101-118

Writing a dictionary article on feminist hermeneutics may encourage several misconceptions. It gives the impression that feminist hermeneutics is a finished research product rather than an ongoing process within the context of women’s societal and ecclesial struggles for justice and liberation. ...

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7. Theology as Rhetoric, Ethics, and Critique of Ideology

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pp. 119-134

A critical feminist theology of liberation, I have argued, demands a reformulation of biblical scholarship as critique of ideology,1 rhetoric, and ethics. It poses a fundamental scholarly theoretical question to the self-concept of biblical scholarship, theological scholarship, and ethics, and insists on the theo-ethical principle that wo/men are theological subjects. ...

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8. Disciplinary Matters: A Critical Rhetoric and Ethic of Inquiry

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pp. 135-154

In the past decade or so rhetorical criticism has developed not only as a textual-exegetical practice but also as an interdisciplinary rhetoric of inquiry that serves as a epistemological meta-reflection on the theoretical and methodological practices of the discipline.1 ...

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9. The Power of Empire and the Rhetoric of Scripture

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pp. 155-168

In the past several years scholars have focused on empire1—the Roman and the American—and assessed its impact on the rhetorical power of Scripture,2 which is claimed by Christians to be the authoritative revealed, sacred word of G*d.3 Scholars concerned about the function of the Bible in people’s lives and seek to read the signs of the times, ...

Part II. Practicing Feminist Biblical Interpretation

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10. To Set the Record Straight: Biblical Women's Studies

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pp. 171-180

In the early 1970s, women’s studies emerged as an independent discipline. In all areas of scientific knowledge, courses and research projects were developed to expand our knowledge of women’s cultural-scientific contributions as well as to challenge androcentric texts, scholarly frameworks, and scientific reconstructions that overlooked or marginalized wo/men. ...

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11. Biblical Interpretation and Critical Commitment: The Gospel of John

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pp. 181-194

Sigmund Mowinckel told this story in a debate about the church as a “spiritual community.” Both the old hermit and the Norwegian professor could not conceive of a conceptualization of religion, the divine, and the church that did not take historical, particular, embodied reality into account. ...

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12. The Politics of Otherness: Biblical Interpretation as a Critical Praxis for Liberation

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pp. 195-212

Gustavo Gutiérrez has placed in the center of the*logical reflection the poor, the “others,” the nonpersons who are absent from history. He has insisted over and against Euro-American “progressive” the*logy that the point of departure for Latin American liberation the*logy is not the question of the modern nonbeliever but the struggle of the nonperson1 for justice and freedom. ...

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13. ``Waiting at Table'': A Critical Feminist The*logical Reflection on Diakonia

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pp. 213-222

The Greek term diakonia means literally “waiting at tables” but is usually translated as “service” or “ministry.”1 We can distinguish two different meanings in the New Testament usage of the word-cluster diakonia/diakonos/diakonein that have become paradigmatic for later the*logy. ...

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14. The Twelve and the Discipleship of Equals

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pp. 223-232

Against the understanding of the early Christian movement as a discipleship of equals1 it is often argued that Jesus chose and commissioned twelve men to be the apostolic leaders of the early church.2 The institution of the twelve apostles—so the argument goes—proves that the hierarchically ordered apostolic ministry stood above the equality ...

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15. Resisting Violence—Engendering Easter

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pp. 233-242

In this time before Holy Week and Easter we are poised to commemorate not only the suffering and execution of Jesus condemned to death as an insurrectionist by the Romans but also that of all those who seek justice and whose bodies or souls are being destroyed in the process.1 ...

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16. Liberation, Unity, and Equality in Community: New Testament Case Studies

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pp. 243-258

The method suggested for this consultation sponsored by the Faith and Order department of the World Council of Churches in 1985 is not platonic or docetist but incarnational. Case studies about the relations of wo/men and men in society and church are the*logical reflections on very concrete experiences and ecclesial situations. ...

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17. Bread/Rice of Wisdom: Interpretation for Liberation

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pp. 259-274

In the past decade or so, Christian feminist the*logians have rediscovered the significance of Divine Wisdom-Sophia as the other name and face of the Creator G*d. Although biblical scholarship has pointed to the importance of the biblical wisdom traditions for quite some time, it has been feminist the*logy and liturgy that have made Divine Wisdom present ...

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18. Wisdom's ``Dance'': Practicing a Critical Feminist Interpretation

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pp. 275-288

In the last thirty years or so, feminist biblical studies1 have been established as a new field of learning with its own publications and methods.2 It is taught in schools, colleges, and universities and is practiced by many scholars in different parts of the world. ...

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19. Claiming the Word: Charting Global Feminist Biblical Studies

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pp. 289-308

Now that feminist biblical studies1 have come of age and are moving toward the future it is timely to assess this field of study and its prospects in a global context. Such a worldwide context reveals at one and the same time the exploitation of wo/men around the world and the feminist affirmation of cultural particularities ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781451426410
E-ISBN-10: 1451426410
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698072
Print-ISBN-10: 080069807X

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013