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FEMINIST HERMENEUTICS

• According to Lisa Isherwood, “Feminism is a way


of looking at society and centering the concerns
of society on women and men.”
• It offers “an analysis of theology, a critique of
theory, thought patterns and of the praxis of
religions and a model of doing theology in a
transformative way.”
• It is based on the experiences of women.
WOMAN EXPERIENCES
1. Oppression.
2. Exploitation and subjugation by men.
3. Motherhood.
4. Condemnation by men.
5. Exclusion in leadership of male structures
such as the Church, politics, business, etc.
THEOLOGICAL AND BIBLICAL BASIS
1. The God of Israel was almost always on
the side of the oppressed, widows, orphans,
and, migrants.
2. Jesus Christ preached against all sorts of
discrimination.
3. He came as a liberator and allowed
women to follow him in his ministry.
4. Women were the first witnesses of his
resurrection.
5. Some women co-worked with Paul in his
missionary work.
6. Some scholars think that some women
worked as deaconesses in the early church.
7. In most Christian communities, women form
the majority of members.
TYPES OF FEMINIST THEOLOGY
1. RADICAL FEMINISTS
•These denounce all patriarchal structures in the
society and church.
•They depict God as “Mother.”
•They denounce all gender insensitive language and
they want it replaced by gender inclusive language.
•Some advocate the abandonment of male
dominated churches.
•They claim that women’s experiences are unique.
•They condemn men as oppressive.
2. LIBERAL FEMINISTS
•These would like to transform the society and
church from within.
•They criticize some of the church’s practices
but do not advocate the abandonment of the
church by women.
•Most of them are balanced in the manner they
fight for woman emancipation.
3. THIRD WORLD FEMINISTS
•Most come from Africa, Asia, and Latin
America.
•Most of them are concerned with the
attainment of woman basic rights, such as;
• health care,
•dignity,
•education,
•Clean water
•They claim that their experiences are not
similar to those of Western women.
•One outstanding Feminist theologian from
Africa is Mercy Amba Oduyoye who claims that
African women are burdened by the facts that
they are women, black, and poor.
•Some are diseased, battered, and belong to
polygamous marriages.
FEMINIST HERMENEUTICS
•The following information comes from
Wisdom Ways,
by
Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza.
1. HERMENEUTICS OF EXPERIENCE
•This is the starting point of conscientization
and emancipation.
•It starts with a critical reflection on how
experience in the biblical text is shaped by our
socio-political location.
•Biblical interpretation is centered on woman
experiences of exploitation and oppression.
•When interpreting the bible feminist
experiences therein must be given
priority.
•In addition to that, experiences of
contemporary women must be read into
the bible.
•In any given biblical passage the
experience of women must be critically
analyzed.
WEAKNESSES
1. Although women all over the world share
certain common experiences, it is misleading to
generalize all their experiences.
2. Women experiences differ from one place to
another, from one social class to another.
3. Some women experiences are socially
constructed.
2. HERMENEUTICS OF SUSPICION
•This one places on all biblical texts “Caution – could
be dangerous to your health and survival”.
•Biblical passages that out rightly denigrate women
must not be read with “empathy, appreciation and
consent.”
•The Kyriocentic text should not be taken at face
value.
•It should be traced to its interests of domination.
WEAKNESSES
•Some people have internalized biblical
authority as unquestionable taboo.
•Some women still find edification from such
scriptures.
•Male conservatives in the church don’t accept
that.
•Sometimes emotions are over-emphasized at
the expense of reason and faith.
3. HERMENEUTICS OF CREATIVE IMAGINATION
•This method seeks to generate utopian
images/visions that have not yet been
realized.
•It encourages the interpreter to dream a
different world of justice and well-being.
•The space of imagination is that of
freedom where boundaries are crossed,
possibilities explored, and time becomes
relativized.
•It calls for the re-experiencing and re-
embodying of biblical situations.
•The reader is called upon to step into the
shoes of the woman mentioned in the
passage and try to retell the story in a way
that is liberated from patriarchal
perspective.
•The reader must participate in the biblical
character’s struggles and from them re-
vision a new a new future.
WAYS OF RE-IMAGINING
•Story-telling, eg. The story of Miriam, Mary and
Martha, Herodias.
•In Art, eg, The African/ Latino Mary.
•Music
•Literature.
•Dance.
•Drama. Etc.
PROCESS OF INTERPRETATION
1. Identify a biblical passage in which there is a
female character.
2. Put yourself into the shoes of that woman.
3. Relate the biblical woman’s experiences in a
new empowering way.
4. Conceive how change can be brought about.
ADVANTAGES
1. This is entertaining as drama.
2. It encourages creative thinking.
3. It empowers women.
4. It re-discovers and reconstructs hidden
information about women.
5. It re-establishes the identity of the biblical
character and the reader.
DISADVANTAGES

•Each interpreter ends up with a different


story and interpretation.
•Drama might arouse emotions.
•Some interpreters might be tempted to
exaggerate.
CRITIQUE OF FEMINIST INTERPRETATION
1. POSITIVES
1. It highlighted the plight of women.
2. Gave biblical interpreters another method.
3. Changed the Christian worldview.
4. Some Christian denominations ordain women.
5. Encouraged women to get involved in theological
studies.
6. It forced men to think of gender equality.
7. It challenges the abuse of women.
2. NEGATIVES
1. It over-romanticizes women experiences.
2. There are many different woman experiences.
3. Women from different cultural and social stations
have different wants and needs.
4. Some women have been oppressed for too long
and they have internalized that oppression, and
because of that it is now very difficult to liberate
them.
5. Although Feminist methods of hermeneutics are
based on the bible, the same bible is irredeemably
patriarchal. There is very little information on
women.
6. Some demands by feminist interpreters are not
realistic.
7. Some feminists mistake equality for sameness.
8. In some cultural setups poverty prevents women
from getting involved in fruitful biblical
interpretation.
9. There are times when women are their own
enemies.
10. Some patriarchal structures are male
dominated that it becomes difficult for women
to penetrate them.
11. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, did not clearly resolve
the issue.
12. The project has been hijacked by radicals.
CONCLUSION
•Despite the listed setbacks.
•Some churches have made great strides in
empowering women.
•Some societies have helped women to get
higher political posts.
•In Zimbabwe there is Affirmative Action.
•Many countries have female heads of state.