Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wisdom Commentary Series from Liturgical Press


Anonymous said...

Feminist interpretation of scripture? What a waste of paper and ink!


Evergreen Guy said...

Feminism isn't a proper lens thru which to look at scripture or anything else. The hermeneutic of suspicion that is at the core of feminist literary theory is designed to destroy reliance on anything outside of the feminist ideology.

Timothy said...


It really depends on what type of feminist criticism is used. The Pontifical Biblical Commission document "Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" has a lenghty section on this issue with a preface by Cardinal Ratzinger:
"We can here mention three principal forms of feminist biblical hermeneutics: the radical form, the neo-orthodox form and the critical form.

The "radical" form denies all authority to the Bible, maintaining that it has been produced by men simply with a view to confirming man's age-old domination of woman (androcentrism).

The "neo-orthodox" form accepts the Bible as prophetic and as potentially of service, at least to the extent that it takes sides on behalf of the oppressed and thus also of women, this orientation is adopted as a "canon within the canon," so as to highlight whatever in the Bible favors the liberation of women and the acquisition of their rights.

The "critical" form, employing a subtle methodology, seeks to rediscover the status and role of women disciples within the life of Jesus and in the Pauline churches. At this period, it maintains, a certain equality prevailed. But this equality has for the most part been concealed in the writings of the New Testament, something which came to be more and more the case as a tendency toward patriarchy and androcentrism became increasingly dominant.

Feminist hermeneutic has not developed a new methodology. It employs the current methods of exegesis, especially the historical-critical method. But it does add two criteria of investigation.

The first is the feminist criterion, borrowed from the women's liberation movement, in line with the more general direction of liberation theology. This criterion involves a hermeneutic of suspicion: Since history was normally written by the victors, establishing the full truth requires that one does not simply trust texts as they stand but look for signs which may reveal something quite different.

The second criterion is sociological; it is based on the study of societies in the biblical times, their social stratification and the position they accorded to women.

With respect to the New Testament documents, the goal of study, in a word is not the idea of woman as expressed in the New Testament but the historical reconstruction of two different situations of woman in the first century: that which was the norm in Jewish and Greco-Roman society and that which represented the innovation that took shape in the public life of Jesus and in the Pauline churches, where the disciples of Jesus formed "a community of equals." Galatians 3:28 is a text often cited in defense of this view. The aim is to rediscover for today the forgotten history of the role of women in the earliest stages of the church.

Feminist exegesis has brought many benefits. Women have played a more active part in exegetical research. They have succeeded, often better than men, in detecting the presence, the significance and the role of women in the Bible, in Christian origins and in the church. The worldview of today, because of its greater attention to the dignity of women and to their role in society and in the church, ensures that new questions are put to the biblical text, which in turn occasions new discoveries. Feminine sensitivity helps to unmask and correct certain commonly accepted interpretations which were tendentious and sought to justify the male domination of women.

Feminist exegesis often raises questions of power within the church, questions which, as is obvious, are matters of discussion and even of confrontation. In this area, feminist exegesis can be useful to the church only to the degree that it does not fall into the very traps it denounces and that it does not lose sight of the evangelical teaching concerning power as service, a teaching addressed by Jesus to all disciples, men and women."

It goes on....

Evergreen Guy said...

I'm not interested in trolling here, so I will keep my reply focused to four points.

First, you are conflating "feminist" with "women." Bad mistake. There are valuable contributions that women scholars and saints make to our study of the Bible and our understanding of tradition. And the Catholic Church has a long history appreciating strong women -- whether that's the biblical Judith or St. Catherine of Sienna or Mother Teresa. But none of those women were "feminist." All of them would have been repulsed by the very idea.

Second, feminism is a species of cultural Marxism, and grows out of the same fundamental approach that Marxism employs to understand power relationships within society (including the Church). As such, the fundamental orientation of feminism is "off" -- it can't be reconciled with the Gospel and the Gospel's approach to power: namely, that power come from service and submission. For feminism, power is never power in service to someone, it is always power over someone.

Third, because of this, feminism misunderstands at a fundamental level the relationship between the sexes outlined in Scripture and Tradition, it misunderstands the nature of key sacraments like matrimony and ordination, and it misunderstands the nature of Christ's role and ministry.

Fourth, because these errors are not small errors but rather fundamental ones, they are not incidental mistakes that can be trimmed away by some creative synthesizing by smart theologians. These errors core to the very core of feminism itself and render the approach toxic from a Christian perspective.

owen swain said...

I may have missed something but given that the post two-up is an extensive quote by Cardinal Ratzinger if anyone is to be accused of conflation it would have to be him not Timothy. Fun.