|God Language and Feminist Christology|
In this section of the Religion 91 website we explore Judaism and Christianity for sources of non-patriarchal spirituality. We have tried to focus on new mechanisms for change, considering some of the ideas contemporary feminists are still developing and offering some of our own ideas. The best way to promote gender equality in Judaism and Christianity seems to be through education. We hope that this section of the site may further this process.
Mechanisms for change in Judaism vary widely from Reform to Orthodoxy. Feminist Jews from a traditional background, like theorist Blu Greenberg, see the entire Torah, including the Halakhah (Jewish Law), as divinely inspired, and thus they are extremely concerned with the systems of halakhic change. They tend to view halakhah as a fluid text that contains techniques for its own revision. As they see it, any lasting change in Judaism must take place through halakhah. Feminist Jews from a liberal background, however, do not view halakhah as divinely inspired, and they tend to perceive it as one of the most difficult, tedious mechanisms for change. Thus they have explored other techniques. For example, theorist Judith Plaskow uses feminist historiography (i.e.: Tkhines) and feminist midrash to reveal the struggles and aspirations of Jewish women that lie beneath the textual tradition.
Because Judaism emphasizes ritual, one of the most common mechanisms for change in all branches of the religion is revisioning rituals in a feminist light. Jewish women have further developed rituals originally associated with women (Rosh Chodesh Ceremony) and created female counterparts for what were once exclusively male rituals (Brit ha Bat and Bat Mitzvah Ceremonies).
Most Christian feminists have focused on revisioning the language and content of the Bible. Keeping in mind the patriarchal culture and language in which the Bible was created, these feminists have searched the text for passages and images potentially supportive of women. In their interpretations, they tend to focus on the Bible's teaching that all humans were created equal in God's image. They have also offered new ways to understand some apparently patriarchal passages, which we explore in feminist interpretations of the Bible and God language and feminist Christology.
Early Christianity defined its gender roles largely by the standards set by previously existing Roman mystery cults.
The figure of Sophia in Gnosticism offers an alternative view of gender in Christianity.
All of these issues have influenced the way that people visualize the divine as either god or goddessand express this imagination iconographically.
--Ellen Finkelman, Emily Scott, and Meredith Weaver (1999)
--Rebecca Grimes, Amelia Johnson, Charles Lynch, Emily Murray, David Stephens (2000)