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In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins Paperback – March 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 10th edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824513576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824513573
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
From Biblical and extra-canonical literature, Schussler-Fiorenza gleans many little jewels of insight into the role of women in the early church. She compares the epistles of Peter and Paul, which enjoin restraint and submission of women, to the writers of the primary Gospels who emphasize altruistic love and service, not any form of hierarchy, as the substance of spiritual life. She relates the social conventions and legal roles of women in the ancient Roman world to the emergence of patriarchal church-institutions, in contrast to house-churches which could be headed by women. The picture which emerges is a very diverse early christian millieu in which women prophesied, presided over the eucharist, supported missionaries, and were missionaries themselves.
Unfortunately, the picture is hard to see if you are unaccustomed to the language of biblical scholarship and feminist historical reconstruction. For most people interested in feminist theology, this is not the book to start with. I wish someone would rewrite it for a broader audience. In substance it is exactly the kind of background that every woman should have, in order to understand how she has been viewed, defined, and influenced by christianity and christian-dominated culture.
It should be required reading (along with a diet of bread and water and daily flagellation) for every Catholic bishop who is not demanding the ordination of women in his church.
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Those not familiar with Elisabeth's work might do well to read her article entitled, "Feminist Theology as a Critical Theology of Liberation". That article, published in a number of edited collections of feminist theology, lays out the methodology she uses in, "In Memory of Her". Just as important, those not familiar with her work should begin this book with the understanding that it demands to be studied, not just read, very carefully. It is not a written motivational talk, i.e. to help women feel better about themselves. Women are not the problem. The book is written to challenge the deeply embedded assumptions scholars and people of faith make about biblical religion, biblical texts, and religious authority. It is the challenge, not just the book, that is formidable.
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Schüssler Fiorenza's title is taken from Mark 14:9 referring to Jesus' recognition of the unnamed woman, who anoints him at Bethany. Jesus states that her actions will live on wherever the gospel is preached "in memory of her". It is clear even from the introduction that this book will take us to new places as the author reflects that we remember the man who betrayed Jesus, but throughout history this woman has been largely ignored. The author examines why this happened, particularly as a result of patriarchal systems. She examines the historical methods of inquiry which provide a different view of the role of women during Jesus' time and historically. She posits that women were not on the margins in the early church, but those who produce the memory through androcentric discourse (historians, authors of biblical texts in particular) have marginalized women. While the author explores many early Christian texts - both those of the New Testament and others which circulated but were not included in the canon -a major focus is directed at Galatians 3:28. She concludes that through this baptismal covenant there is oneness in the body of Christ that rejects oppression and domination. However, she recognizes the tension that this statement seems to be in with others in the Pauline corpus. She challenges the post-Pauline interpretations which subordinate women to men. In Chapter 8 on the Patriarchal Household and the Ekklçsia of Women, she cites many examples of women leaders in the early church particularly in the Gospels of John and Mark. She views the post-Pauline and post-Petrine prescriptions of women's roles in the church to run counter to the documented apostolic and ministerial leadership of women within the canonical texts.Read more ›
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Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (born 1938) is a leading feminist theologian, who identifies herself as a Catholic. She is currently a Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. She was the first woman elected as president of the Society of Biblical Literature. She has also written books such as Jesus: Miriam's Child, Sophia's Prophet : Critical Issues in Feminist Christology.

She states in her Introduction the the 10th Anniversary Edition, "As I finished the book in 1982, I became acutely aware that I was attempting to speak to two very different audiences: women in the academy and churches, and the academic community of religious studies and theology. Still, my effort to complete the manuscript was stymied because I subconsciously feared that neither audience would appreciate the book's feminist rhetoric. Since I had decided early on not to write another popularizing book on 'women in the Bible,' I deliberately chose critical biblical scholarship and its discourses as my mode of operation. Nevertheless, I did not wish to write an academic book on 'women in early Christianity.' Instead, I set out to explore the problem of women's historical agency in ancient Christianity in light of the theological and historical questions raised by the feminist movements in society and church." She later adds, "In Memory of Her is firmly planted within liberation theories and theologies in general, and feminist epistemologies and interpretive practices in particular.
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