In the late fourth century debate over the question whether Jesus Christ was truly divine or simply a creature subordinate to God the Father was so wide spread that Gregory of Nyssa was led to remark: "Even the baker does not cease from discussing this, for if you ask the price of bread he will tell you that the Father is greater and the Son subject to him." In our own day, says Elizabeth Johnson, an analogous debate over "right speech about God is exceptionally alive in a new way thanks...to a sizable company of bakers, women who historically have borne the primary responsibility for lighting the cooking fires and feeding the world." In She Who Is Elizabeth Johnson attempts to "braid a footbridge between the ledges of classical theology and feminist theology," and in so doing offers the most solidly grounded case to date for using women's experience and female imagery to describe the Christian experience of God. With an extraordinary control of the history of Christian God-talk from the Cappadocians to contemporary theologians, and with an acute sensitivity to the varieties of women▀s experience today, Johnson shows in countless ways how feminist language about God belongs in our pulpits and at our altars. Put in starkest terms, the questions this book poses are two: Can the Christian doctrine of God accommodate a thoroughgoing feminist approach? And can feminist theology learn anything from classical Christian discourse about God? Johnson's response to the first is to show how feminist theology, drawing on women's interpreted experience and a critical retrieval of elements in Scripture and tradition, can enable speech about God previously closed to the imagination - that it can move the tradition from an androcentric to a genuinely liberating view of God. To the second question Johnson responds by showing how the classical tradition can add density to feminist speech about God, directing attention to the vast scope of divine activity.
With laudatory reviews around the world and immeasurable influence on contemporary theological discussions, She Who Is is the undisputed classic of feminist theology. Provocative, heartfelt, rigorous, it has generated commentators and imitators but has never been surpassed. In this volume, marking the 10th anniversary of the book's first publication, Johnson offers an introduction recalling the book's history and its meaning for the scholarly discussion today.
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