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  • Editors' Introduction

For me, Elizabeth, I realize that it may seem strange to start an introduction with an ending, but it would be stranger still to put off acknowledging the inspiration, diligence, and professionalism that has placed eight issues of the journal in your hands for the last four years. This issue marks the conclusion of Traci West's tenure as coeditor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. The rest of us here at JFSR wish to express our gratitude to Traci for consistently exemplifying the collegiality and commitment that has energized our shared efforts to call out historical and contemporary oppressions and to light up emancipatory visions and practices. Sara Ahmed observes that "to be willing to go against a social order, which is protected as a moral order, a happiness order, is to be willing to cause unhappiness." Ahmed describes and affirms such willful persons as "feminist killjoys."1 We killjoys know, however, that our work is sustained by the optimism and good humor of leaders like Traci.

For me, Traci, I feel deep gratitude for the opportunity to have worked with Elizabeth and the rest of the highly skilled team who make the production of JFSR possible. I am sad to end the high quality of intense collaboration that my coleadership with Elizabeth entailed. I celebrate Elizabeth's "feminist killjoy" spirit embodied in her expansive gender-justice convictions, tireless work ethic, efficiency, and truly collegial practices that have made it so inspiring to work with her.

Our communal work is sustained, too, by moments of joyful celebration. In this issue, we give you several reasons to celebrate. One is an opportunity to reflect on and draw strength from the decades-long career of pioneering scholar of Buddhism and antiracism activist, Jan Willis. In Emily Cohen's finely crafted interview, Willis describes the terror of Jim Crow and Klan-dominated Alabama, the loneliness of a precocious intellect, and the succor of her life-long teachers, Tibetan Lama Thubten Yeshe and Martin Luther King Jr. We salute Willis's courage to live and write about her unconventional and intersectional [End Page 1] identities, and we are grateful to Jan and Emily for this testament to the necessity of being and sharing all of who we are.

The articles section is another cause for celebration. We present the first and second-place winners of the Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award. Our first-place winner is Peter Anthony Mena, whose "Scenting Saintliness: The Ailing Body, Chicana Feminism, and Communal Identity in Ancient Christianity" draws upon the work of Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa in order to illuminate the ways in which illness decenters subjectivity. Mena applies their insights to the late antique hagiography, Life of Syncletica. In this reading, holiness is not the achievement of an exceptional individual given to acts of heroic asceticism; it is, instead, afforded by the physical and emotional network of suffering and caregiving bodies. Our second-place winner is Jill Marshall, whose article, "The Recovery of Paul's Female Colleagues in Nineteenth-Century Feminist Biblical Interpretation," brings to light the critical biblical scholarship of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Ellen Battelle Dietrick. The work of both scholars, students of biblical languages yet without the advantages of a university education, anticipated two key features of feminist scholarship in religion: highlighting and challenging the androcentric viewpoint of scholarship and reconstructing the hidden history of women. As Marshall notes, one of Dietrick's criticisms was that the women leaders around Paul were either ignored or diminished by the tendency for "Paul worshipping" among male biblical scholars.

Arminta Fox's article "Decentering Paul, Contextualizing Crimes: Reading in Light of the Imprisoned" reflects similar feminist commitments to decentering subjectivity and subverting the recurrent fixation on Paul in scholarship on the emergent Jesus movement. Fox draws from her firsthand experience teaching in US prisons to impress upon readers the imperative to avoid reducing inmates to their crimes, seeing them, instead, as a shifting confluence of experiences, identities, and relationships. She applies these lessons to the accounts of early Christians' imprisonment, noting women prisoners' particular vulnerabilities as well as the importance of a network of faithful and courageous...


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