JESUS: MIRIAM'S CHILD, SOPHIA'S PROPHET by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza


Critical Issues in Feminist Christology
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 A provocative but opaque feminist examination of the figure of Jesus that adds more heat than light to current theological debates. Fiorenza (Biblical Studies/Harvard Univ.) returns to Christian origins in this sequel to the noted In Memory of Her (not reviewed). A radical feminist, she argues that feminist theologians must not abandon the claims that their theologies are universally valid. To do so, she maintains, is to submit to the patriarchal patterns of interpretation and oppression that have too long characterized the field and society in general--pluralism thus becomes a trap for the unwary. Her reimaginings of Christological discourses lead her to view Jesus as the son of Mary (the Miriam of her title) and the prophet of Sophia (God as divine wisdom). These points, which seem simplistic when stated outright, recently have become the focus of intense controversy in theological and ecclesiastical circles as women seek to find in the biblical text stories and images of God that empower them. In viewing Jesus as the proclaimer of Sophia, a feminine image of the divine, the author reshapes some of the most familiar doctrines of orthodox Christianity. Jesus' death on the cross, for instance, was in her view not an atoning sacrifice required by God in order for humanity to be reconciled with their creator; rather, it was merely the outcome of prophetic practices that offended and threatened those in power. Fiorenza also seeks to recover the real woman Mary through a process of deconstruction and demythologizing. The book provides a good survey of current theological thinking across a broad spectrum, but its turgid, obtuse, and jargon-laden prose obscures many interesting points. Fiorenza's insistence on feminist theological positions as valid for all people merely substitutes a new hegemony for the patriarchal one she seeks to displace. Important ground traversed better by other scholars, notably Delores Williams in Sisters in the Wilderness (not reviewed).

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8264-0671-8
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Continuum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994