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Hanna Stenström Is a liberating feminist exegesis possible without liberation theology?


In diesem Artikel sollen einige grundsätzliche Überlegungen zur feministischen Bibelwissenschaft dargelegt werden. Die Diskussion wird sich im Wesentlichen auf zwei Aspekte konzentrieren, zum einen auf die Rolle der Theologie in der feministischen Bibelwissenschaft, zum anderen auf diverse theoretische Modelle einer feministischen Exegese.

Im Artikel wird eine feministische Kritik von Konzepten wie “women’s experience” und “standpoint of women” vorausgesetzt, die falsche Verallgemeinerungen und Herrschaftsstrukturen reproduzieren. Der bekannte Vorwurf an den alternativen, postmodernen/poststrukturalistischen Feminismus, den Bezug zur konkreten Realität und somit zur Politik verloren zu haben, wird thematisiert. Im Zentrum stehen Vorschläge von feministischen TheologInnen, die einerseits versuchen, pragmatisch einen Weg zwischen diesen beiden Positionen zu finden (Sheila Greeve Davaney) oder andererseits poststrukturalistische Kulturtheorien benutzen, um zu zeigen, wie Kulturen als Arena für politische Auseinandersetzungen dienen (Kathryn Tanner). Der Artikel zielt auf die mögliche Umsetzung dieser Modelle in der Form einer feministischen Bibelwissenschaft, die ihre politischen Implikationen beibehält, aber dadurch nicht notwendigerweise mit theologischen Projekten verbunden ist wie z.B. damit, biblische Texte für Frauen neu in Anspruch zu nehmen.

Like all articles, this one has a pre-history and the positions taken are marked by the context of its author. The article is a revised version of a mini-lecture held at the conference of the European Society of Women in Theological Research (ESWTR) in August 2001, but the issues discussed and the positions taken were already present in my doctoral thesis. [1] As in the mini-lecture I hope, through this article, to be able to share some of my reflections with other feminist biblical scholars. My intention is not to present a detailed programme for our future work. Rather, I want to bring some models of thinking about this work into the discussion, in the hope that it will give the reader something worthy of further reflection and, perhaps, also some inspiration for future work.

In my thesis I discuss, proceeding from concrete examples, the ethical and political implications of biblical scholarship. [2] My focus is primarily on feminist exegesis and on possible roads feminist exegesis may take in the future. [3] In this article, too, my point of departure is the analyses of works on Revelation presented in my dissertation. Therefore, the focus of my discussion is, to a high degree, Schüssler-Fiorenza’s version of feminist biblical exegesis: a feminist biblical scholarship dedicated to reclaiming the Bible for women, with standpoint feminist theory as its theoretical foundation. [4] In my dissertation, I also discussed works by Tina Pippin, [5] which are written in a post-modern feminist tradition, so I am well aware that the Fiorenza version is not the only one. For those who have already chosen a different road than Fiorenza’s, some of my arguments may be battering down open doors. Still, I find it relevant to direct my criticism at a form of feminist exegesis that still has such a decisive influence on feminist biblical scholarship and feminist theology in general.

When it comes to personal presuppositions, it may be relevant to state that I received my academic training and my doctorate at the Faculty of Theology in Uppsala. This means that I was trained in an academic environment that defines itself as concerned with “religious studies” rather than with “theology”. I here use “theology” with reference to that kind of scholarship which is undoubtedly academic but at the same time also wants to contribute to the construction of theology and praxis of religious communities. In my scholarly work, I have been constantly asking myself whether there are values in my non-theological training which may contribute to the field of feminist biblical scholarship, a field so often dominated by theological concerns. [6]

The feminist seminar of the faculty in the early 1990s where I began to find my identity as a feminist scholar bore the stamp of this non-theological environment. It was also clearly interdisciplinary. Feminist theory was of prime importance. The understanding of gender as socially constructed and the intimate connection between “gender” and “power” were central to our discussions. In my own work, including this article, I want to be one of those feminist biblical scholars who try to connect feminist exegetical work with the reflection by theoretically aware feminist theologians and with feminist theory in general.

The article wants to participate in two, in some ways related, discussions. The first is about some basic issues in feminist theory and theology. The second is the discussion among scholars in biblical exegesis (and related fields) about the role of theology in such a work. Is a theological aim inherent to our feminist work with the Bible and its historical contexts?

“Women’s Experience” and Standpoint Feminism

It is well known that “women’s experience”, which has been a key concept in feminist theology as well as in feminist thinking in general, is now often considered problematic. [7] For many scholars it is almost impossible to refer to “women’s experience” without a number of qualifications and words of caution. Along with it, the “standpoint feminism” which is the theoretical skeleton in many feminist theologies – including the pioneering feminist exegetical and theological works by Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza – has been subject to severe criticism from within feminist ranks. The notion of “women’s experience”, and of its transformation into a standpoint which is given epistemological (or, at least, hermeneutical) privilege, has been criticised by women of colour and other “non-norm” women as well as by post-modern/post-structuralist theoreticians. Primarily, the criticism points to the risk of universalising some women at the expense of others. There is an ever-present danger that “women” are understood in an essentialist fashion, in spite of the declared conviction that gender is socially constructed and of the obvious differences between women in terms of race, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity etc. To put it bluntly: White Western Middle Class Heterosexual Male is replaced as Normative Human by White Western Middle Class Heterosexual Female. One may also ask, if such a “standpoint” of women (or of feminists, or of “all the oppressed”) is not, in fact, rooted in the alliance of knowledge and power severely criticised by feminists – including the standpoint ones – and other spokespersons for marginalised groups. This alliance is constituted by the creation of knowledge being in fact the dominating groups exercising power over others. If the knowledge created in a certain group is privileged, this kind of power play is continued, although with new groups as holders of power.

However, the risk of essentialist understandings of “women” and of replacing one dominant group with another are not the only ones. Some feminist theologians have also pointed to the risk that feminist theology assumes an essentialist understanding of Christian tradition. Such a criticism has been voiced by, among others, Sheila Greeve Davaney. [8] She mentions as examples certain current views of the Bible, including variations on the theme that a kernel in the Bible – to be discovered by feminist biblical scholars and theologians – is liberating for women. Davaney also points to the problematic assumption that in many feminist theologies the divine will and feminist aims tend to coincide. Feminist theologies have often gained authority by claiming that they build on the essence of Christianity and coincide with the divine will. Those assumptions are also often, mutatis mutandis, present in other liberation theologies. All these assumptions may have great strategic values in the battles inside the Churches, since they make it possible to change theology and church practice and still claim that one is a Christian. Furthermore, such theologies may without doubt function as empowering and liberating for individuals and collectives. Yet, they have come under attack today, and in my opinion rightly so, for their essentialist tendencies and their tendency to use the same strategies for justification (appeals to divine will and the true kernel of tradition) as the theologies they criticise, thereby continuing structures of domination. At the same time, for many of us a resort to a full-fledged post-modern position is not an alternative, for the well-known reason that such positions are in danger of losing their connections with concrete realities, and therefore tend to be apolitical.

But although they have been severely criticised, the theoretical concepts of “women’s experience” and “standpoint feminism” are still understood as basic in many forms of feminist theology. An example of this kind of feminist theology is the text of the invitation to the ESWTR conference where this article was originally read as a mini-lecture. In the invitation, feminist theology was described as both an academic discipline and a liberation movement. I am more than willing to concede that, but the invitation also stated that “liberation theological principles” are one pillar upholding feminist theology, with various feminist theories and frameworks constituting another. I agree with the invitation about the second pillar, but find it open to discussion to what extent “liberation theological principles” necessarily constitute the other. “Liberation theology” is, after all, something more than the fundamental desire for a theology that promotes liberation from unjust social structures. Liberation theology in the strict sense – and the feminist variants thereof – comprises a number of theoretical assumptions currently being problematized, especially the ideas concerning an epistemological privilege for the poor (the idea of a privileged standpoint). At the same time, they are not easy to dispense with, if we want our feminist projects to retain their political implications. We know that the appeal to “women’s experience”, and the appeal to a “standpoint” have shown themselves to be powerful resources in political struggles, in the academic world and in the religious communities as well as in society at large. If they are given up, they must be replaced with something as powerful. Therefore, there are today theorists who try to formulate forms of “political post modernism” [9] , “feminist post modernism/post structuralism” [10] etc. Others, who accept much of the criticism of standpoint feminism and of the description of our time made by post-modern theorists try to find pragmatic positions “in between” post modern and standpoint feminism. It is to two such alternatives I now want to turn.

Theology’s Role in Feminist Biblical Scholarship

Davaney’s above-mentioned criticism of earlier feminist theologies also touches, I think, the issues that Elizabeth Castelli has described as

  “ […] one of the most central and difficult questions […] in the ongoing debate on feminist works on Early Christianity […] the role of theology and theological discourse in the framework for the study. Is any feminist engagement of early Christianity necessarily a theological one? Should it be?” [11]  

When a feminist biblical scholar pursues her research in the framework of a standpoint feminist theological position of the kind criticised above, a theological engagement becomes necessary. Therefore, accepting the criticism of those positions also touches upon the role of theology in feminist biblical scholarship. [12]

As in my earlier work, what I want to argue here, is that a feminist engagement of the Bible and Early Christianity is not necessarily theological. I am convinced that my problems with formulating the task of feminist research in those areas as necessarily theological are more than just informed by my academic context, although my academic upbringing certainly plays a role in it.

Schüssler-Fiorenza’s readings of Revelation also made clear to me that the desire to reclaim the biblical texts for women is problematic in the sense that this theological aim limits the results of the analysis. [13] We may not, within such an approach, be able to pursue feminist criticism all the way. I also found it problematic, for example, that Schüssler-Fiorenza claims that a work like Tina Pippin’s, in which a gender analysis is the primary aim and which ends up rejecting the biblical text, loses its political potential, confirms the oppressive patterns it reveals, and is deficient as a feminist strategy. [14] This argument strikes me as strange. It is true that such feminist strategies limit our possibilities of participating in the construction of new Christian theologies, but that does not exhaust the political possibilities. The question must be where and how we as feminist biblical scholars can play a political role. One possible answer is that we can do it by creating new biblical interpretations for religious communities. But it cannot be the only answer, as I think Schüssler-Fiorenza often suggests.

Sometimes I suspect that we have too often wanted our theological, or at least theologically relevant, projects to end up reclaiming the Bible for women or finding some other form of reading which makes the Bible “possible”. Taking the risk of stating the obvious, I just want to remark that theological relevance could also lie in pressing religious communities to formulate their views on biblical authority in the light (or, perhaps rather, the darkness) of our insights in how deeply marked the Bible is by its origins in a patriarchal culture and our awareness of how the Bible has legitimised the subordination of women.

When I was working on my dissertation, especially with Schüssler-Fiorenza’s books, I felt that I was constantly being drawn into a rhetoric comprising sweeping generalisations and questions such as “Is feminist work with the New Testament and Early Christianity necessarily theological?” “Is this or that biblical book liberating for women?” In the constructive proposals which I formulated at the end of my dissertation, and in this article, I try to formulate an alternative – a resistance – to such generalisations.

Arguing for a feminist biblical scholarship (and work in related areas) which retains its political implications even when it is not a theological project, I find it important to point to the commonly recognised three aims of feminist research: critique – construction – transformation. All of them are not necessarily present in every work, but they are present in feminist research in general. All of them have political dimensions, perhaps especially the constructive and transforming work. The question, then, is where we do our work with construction and transformation – in the academic world, in religious communities or as members of the Women’s Movement. [15] My point is that any work that is to be identified as “feminist” needs to comprise all three aims, although emphasis may differ. But the choice of one certain arena, religious communities, cannot be necessary for an exegetical project. Critique as well as constructive work and transformative work with the biblical texts can also be made solely within the academic world, or be integrated into the work of the Women’s Movement. In the concrete case I worked with, the female and sexual imagery of Revelation, it is rather easy to imagine the feminist biblical scholar as part of an interdisciplinary project which traces, for example, how the understanding of prostitutes has been developed throughout history. It is also easy to imagine that the knowledge created within such a project may serve feminist movements working against pornography and prostitution. That certainly qualifies as feminist politics, although it certainly does not reclaim the texts for women.

Some constructive proposals

If this criticism of feminist liberation theology and feminist standpoint theories as well as of the dangers of sheer post-modern theories is accepted, an important question will be:

what would a feminist biblical scholarship look like, if it is not, strictly speaking, “liberation theology” but still contributes to the work for liberation? How can we formulate political strategies if we give up the standpoint feminist position? Since this issue is raised in discussions among theoretically advanced feminist theologians in other fields and with feminist theory in general, another way of putting the question is: how can we, as feminist exegetes, proceed in our understanding of ourselves, and through that in our practical actions, through continued and extended contacts with such theoretically advanced feminist theologians in other fields and with feminist theory in general? Those who so choose may then ask themselves: how can we integrate such a feminist biblical scholarship and its findings in liberating Christian or Jewish theologies that are not, strictly speaking, liberation theologies?

In other words, I have tried to find theoretical models which take the criticism of standpoint feminist theology seriously, yet do not lose their political potential. Or, to phrase it differently, which models take post-modern descriptions of reality seriously, but are not apolitical and unconnected with concrete historical settings? Just as there exists criticism along the lines I have sketched, there are constructive suggestions which hold on to the political potential in post-modern/post-structuralist thinking or which in a more pragmatic way attempt to find new ways of anchoring values and formulating strategies for historical work.

In my search for theoretical models, I found the suggestions made by Kathryn Tanner [16] and Sheila Greeve Davaney [17] inspiring. Their proposals resemble each other but are not identical. In what follows, I will attempt to describe their proposals briefly and point to their potential for exegesis and related research. They show the possibility of formulating a political function for both theological and non-theological projects. I cannot go into further detail here, but I hope to be able to give a fair picture of their argument and to demonstrate their relevance. Their proposals are primarily directed towards constructive work with feminist theology in systematic theology. I have not found any earlier attempts to relate them to feminist biblical scholarship. If I am wrong, I hope my readers will let me know.

Davaney assents to the post-modern criticism of universalist assumptions and emphasises that all values, claims and identities are historically conditioned and subject to change. [18] Choosing a constructivist understanding of both the Christian tradition (and, implicitly, all religious traditions) and gender, she emphasises that beliefs as well as gender and human individuals are constantly being created in the meeting between many different, and sometimes contradictory, elements of tradition. There is no kernel in the Bible or in the tradition that is in accordance with some kernel of feminism, no common and uniform “women’s experience” which can be developed into a privileged standpoint. What we have are historically constructed and transmitted traditions, traditions which comprise a vast number of different and even contradictory elements. [19] At the same time, by referring to her own position as “historicist”, she wishes to distance herself from post-modernist thought that loses its foundation in the concrete and historically given, and thereby risks losing its political dimensions. Using terms such as “embedded subjectivity” and “historicized self” she acknowledges that we are “fundamentally situated within and conditioned by our historical locales”. [20] At the same time, she is eager to emphasise (against some forms of post-modern theory) that humans are also capable of agency and change.

  “ […] being located, conditioned historical creatures and being self-directing and relatively free creatures are not in opposition to one another but mutually support each other. It is as we creatively interact with our environments, both cultural and natural, that human agency is made possible: it is in and through our embeddedness that human subjectivity emerges, shaped by but also shaping our worlds.” [21]  

Davaney makes the lives of contextually rooted communities, with all the differences their contexts create, her point of departure. In those communities, situated in a stream of tradition with its different and even contradictory elements, values, theologies and political strategies are shaped and evaluated. Evaluation is not to be made in terms of fidelity towards the essence of the religious tradition or the will of God (neither patriarchal nor feminist versions of “essence” or “divine will”) but in terms of their consequences for existing human beings in history. Davaney emphasises the provisional, temporary, and imperfect quality of all human visions, but also the necessity of actively creating visions and values. [22]

Kathryn Tanner has a similar approach to tradition. She, too, emphasises our ability and responsibility to participate in the ongoing construction of traditions through active choices between their elements and different ways of interpreting those elements. Her argument is, however, more explicitly political than Davaney’s. She builds on Marxist and post-structuralist theories of culture, which view

  “ […] culture as one […] important […] site of political struggle in the West. Political struggle of a cultural sort takes place in the fights over both the meaning and articulation of a society’s cultural stakes or symbolic resources” [23] .  

Feminist theology – both research and constructive work with theologies for religious communities – is part of this struggle, as is the feminist movement taken as a whole. Within such a theoretical framework we can describe feminist biblical scholarship as an actor in a political struggle in the cultural arena.

Tanner develops her argument in relation to the construction of feminist theologies, and therefore I leave the main part of her argument aside here. I just want to mention briefly, in addition to her over-all view of feminists participating in a cultural struggle (which I find an apt description of what feminist biblical scholars often do, both in theological and non-theological works), Tanner’s discussions of “the past” and its use in theology. [24] Tanner emphasises that the past was as varying and contradictory as is our “now”. Through this insight, references to a unified “past” in order to legitimate, for example, a certain church organisation can lose their power. We must also accept responsibility for what “past” we create and appeal to. It is, however, important for Tanner that certain events actually occurred, that everything cannot be true and that the past is not just a construction. Still, the responsibility for interpreting, and for a choice of focus, and in that sense for creating a past, remains.


I think that the implications for exegetical work are obvious. Davaney points to a way of creating concepts such as “justice” which we may use in our evaluation of biblical texts without resorting to problematic universalisations. Her answer to the question about how we can claim to anchor and maintain values in a post-modern world is to point to the concrete, contextually conditioned communities and to the consequences of, for example, a certain political strategy or a biblical vision for concrete women and men. We neither can nor need to decide once and for all whether a certain text is a “vision of a just world” or a Dystopia for women. They may be both. Though Revelation may be a liberating text in a certain specific context for certain communities (e.g. South Africa in the apartheid era) it may still be considered, simultaneously, an oppressive text in other contexts and communities (e.g. feminist anti-pornography activists in Europe, or contexts in the so-called Third World where women’s rights activists work against trafficking and sex tourism).

Secondly, Tanner’s description of a diverse past, and the responsibility for the past we reconstruct and for its uses – as well as her emphasis on the past as not only a construction – is not new to biblical scholars. The diversity of Early Christianity is today shown beyond doubt, and the necessity of “taking responsibility for the past” is one of the most common tasks undertaken by scholars working with biblical texts or the contexts where they were created. However, what I find worthy of further consideration in a reflection about feminist biblical scholarship are three things.

First, we are given a theoretical model where both the struggle over cultural symbols in the past studied by biblical scholars and the struggle in the present are included. Secondly, this theoretical model makes it possible to make research about the biblical texts and their contexts of production which are as political as those based on standpoint feminism. Thirdly, biblical scholars may find an important role for themselves in cross-disciplinary theological work since we can substantiate the theoretical claim that the Christian tradition is and has always been diverse with our knowledge of the actual diversity of for example Early Christianity.

If I combine the political understanding of culture from Tanner with Davaney’s model, and if I use “tradition” with reference to academic traditions and the cultural tradition of a people or a nation as well as religious traditions, I see tasks for a feminist biblical scholarship which is no longer theological but still political. Of course, the model can also be used for understanding how feminists – even feminist exegetes and the results of their research – can participate in a creative and constructive work within religious communities. Still, these models imply, in my opinion, that feminist biblical scholarship is not necessarily theological.

The tasks ahead are both to understand those streams of traditions using these basic models and other theoretical and methodological tools, and to participate actively in the ongoing construction and evaluation of traditions, new concrete circumstances, and visions. How have our academic traditions been constructed? What happened when, for example, women struggling in the Churches for ordination of women, entered into the academic tradition and both carried on the tradition and created something new out of its many elements? How is the cultural political struggle carried out in the specific field of culture that is biblical scholarship, and how has biblical scholarship been part of the cultural struggles of our societies? How are the struggles over cultural symbols in the past to be reconstructed? How are the concrete communities of the biblical past to be reconstructed, how were they both created by and creating tradition? How has the fight over those of our culture’s symbolic resources that are to be found in the Bible been carried out in movies, visual art and literature?

Some of you may be thinking: “we are already doing all this”. Tanner, too, brings up a similar objection and claims that the values of theories like hers lie primarily in encouraging an increased awareness of what we are doing, an awareness that can actually empower and support us. [25]

At the same time, reflecting along these lines has led me to a more generous approach to those forms of feminist biblical scholarship which are more “theological” than my own. Feminist scholars working in academic traditions where a theological element is important shape their scholarship out of the elements of their traditions. Therefore, being theological they create a form of feminist exegesis which is relevant to their contexts and is to be evaluated out of its consequences in the context, not according to some essential form of feminist biblical scholarship. But this theological form of scholarship should not be put up as a standard for all feminist biblical scholarship.

Finally, I hope I have given an example, though roughly drawn, of what we might achieve if we link feminist exegesis more closely to a theoretically aware feminist theology. My intention has been, primarily, to give proposals for our self-understanding more than providing us with a set of totally new questions and tasks. My hope is that bringing those proposals into our discussion may be a contribution to our continuing reflection on the identities and tasks of feminist research into the Bible and the historical contexts where the Bible was written as well as into the history of the effects and interpretations of the Bible in past and present.


[1] Hanna Stenström, The Book of Revelation: A Vision of the Ultimate Liberation or the Ultimate Backlash? A study in 20th Century interpretations of Rev 14:1-5, with special emphasis on feminist exegesis, Uppsala 1999.

[2] See esp. Stenström, Revelation, pp. 291-318.

[3] Among other things I noted, as has also been pointed out by others, a tendency in the debate on “ethics of biblical interpretation” to use concepts such as “justice” without clarifying what ethical theories are used. This tendency was present both in feminist and non-feminist works. Speaking in more concrete terms: according to what feminist theory of justice can Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza describe Revelation as a “vision of a just world”? Therefore, I think a closer contact between feminist exegesis and feminist ethics is important to further the discussion of feminist evaluations of texts. Such a contact may also be fruitful for the entire debate on “ethics of biblical interpretation”.

[4] Stenström, Revelation, pp. 226-263. My focus in the dissertation is primarily on Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, Revelation. Vision of A Just World (Proclamation Commentaries), Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1991. My understanding of Schüssler-Fiorenza’s position is, of course, informed also by her other works.

[5] Stenström, Revelation, pp. 264-285. My focus is primarily on Tina Pippin, Death and Desire. The Rhetoric of Gender in the Apocalypse (Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation), WJKP, Louisville, Kentucky 1992.

[6] I would like to mention, though, that I do not personally belong to those who reject the Church. I am ordained in the Church of Sweden (Lutheran), I participate in debates inside the Church and I lecture in various Church settings. The feminist exegesis I am looking for must, of course, also be possible to connect, for those who wish to do so, with the Church and the proclamation of the Word. Yet I do not completely identify the political role of feminist exegesis with its role in Church politics. Therefore, I do not see feminist biblical scholarship as necessarily theological.

[7] The literature presenting and discussing standpoint and post-modern (or post-structuralist) feminism is vast. Some examples, which I have used in my work, must suffice. For presentation and discussion of feminist empiricism, feminist standpoint and post-modern feminism see e.g. Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York 1986, pp. 24-29; Anne-Louise Eriksson, The Meaning of Gender in Theology. Problems and Possibilities (Women in Religion 6), Uppsala 1995, pp. 42-54. About post-modern/post-structuralist feminism see also e.g. Chris Weedon, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford 1987; Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Changing the Subject. Women’s Discourses and Feminist Theology, Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1994. For the discussion about “women’s experience” see e.g. Pamela Dickey Young, Feminist Theology/Christian Theology. In Search of Method, Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1990, pp. 49-69; Weedon, Feminist Practice, pp. 6-9, 74-75, 79-80, 85-86; Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, pp. 6, 50-59, 107, 114-115, 117-121; Eriksson, Meaning of Gender, pp. 45-46, 96-98, 112-117, 130-133; Sheila Greeve Davaney, “Continuing the Story, but Departing the Text: A Historicist Interpretation of Feminist Norms in Theology”, pp. 199-205, in: Rebecca S. Chopp/Sheila Greeve Davaney (eds.), Horizons in Feminist Theology. Identity, Tradition and Norms, Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1997. The discussion of new theoretical positions for feminist theology in light of the discussion sketched above is recurrent in the different articles in Chopp/Davaney (eds.), Horizons. See also Elizabeth Castelli, “Heteroglossia, Hermeneutics, and History. A Review Essay Of Recent Feminist Studies Of Early Christianity”, in: JFSR, vol. 10, no. 2 (1994), pp. 73-98.

[8] Davaney, “Continuing the Story”, p. 201.

[9] See, e.g., “The Bible and Culture Collective” (Elizabeth A. Castelli, Stephen D. Moore, Gary A. Phillips, Regina M. Schwartz) (eds.), The Postmodern Bible, Yale University Press, New Haven/London 1995, esp. 8-12.

[10] So, e.g. Weedon, Feminist Practice.

[11] Cf. Castelli, “Heteroglossia”, p. 80.

[12] I use “theology” with reference to a normative – or at least constructive – work which in some way wants to serve not only the Academy but also religious communities.

[13] For this kind of criticism of Fiorenza’s feminist exegetical works, I am indebted to Lone Fatum. See, e.g., Lone Fatum, “Image of God and Glory of Man: Women in the Pauline Congregations”, in: Kari Elisabeth Börresen (ed.), Image of God and Gender Models in Judaeo-Christian Tradition, Solum Forlag, Oslo 1991, pp. 56-137.

[14] So, e.g., Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza, The Book of Revelation. Justice and Judgment. Second Edition. Fortress Press, Minneapolis 1998, p. 208. Cf. Stenström, Revelation, pp. 283-285.

[15] We may, of course, relate to more than one of those entities at the same time. The model is simple, for clarity’s sake (!).

[16] Davaney, “Continuing the Story”. I am also dependent on Sheila Greeve Davaney, “Historicist Interpretations of Subjectivity, Tradition and Norms in Feminist Theology”, in: Svensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift 4 (2000), pp. 170-178, esp. pp. 175-176.

[17] Kathryn Tanner, “Social Theory Concerning the ‘New Social Movements’ and the Practice of Feminist Theology”, in: Chopp/Greeve Davaney (eds.), Horizons, pp. 179-197.

[18] Davaney, “Continuing the Story”, pp. 203-208; “Historicist Interpretations”, pp. 172-173.

[19] Davaney, “Continuing the Story”, pp. 209-210; “Historicist Interpretations”, pp. 173-176.

[20] Davaney, “Historicist Interpretations”, p. 173.

[21] Davaney, “Historicist Interpretations”, p. 173.

[22] Davaney, “Continuing the Story”, pp. 210-214; Davaney, “Historicist Interpretations”, pp. 177-178.

[23] Tanner, “Social Theory”, p. 179.

[24] Tanner, “Social Theory”, pp. 192-197.

[25] Tanner, “Social Theory”, pp. 183-184.

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Hanna Stenström,

born 1963 in Stockholm, Sweden, studied at the Faculty of Theology at Uppsala University 1983-1987. She reached her Teologie kandidatexamen 1987 and was ordained in the Church of Sweden 1989. She worked for longer and shorter periods in parish work since then. She taught New Testament in Uppsala as a doctoral student 1988-1997 (Teologie Doktor 1999), as a full time teacher August 1999-June 2001 and part time (50%) Autumn 2001 – June 2002. She is active with teaching, lecturing, writing in various academic and church settings. Besides academic and Church work, she is active in the Women’s Shelter in Uppsala and earns part of her living through working at an old people’s home.

Some of her Publications

  • Dissertation: The Book of Revelation: A Vision of the Ultimate Liberation or the Ultimate Backlash?A study in 20th Century interpretations of Rev 14:1-5, with special emphasis on feminist exegesis, Uppsala 1999.
  • “Grandma, Räisänen and the Global Village: A Feminist Approach to Ethical Criticism”, in: Dunderberg, Ismo/Tuckett, Christopher/Syreeni, Kari, Fair Play: Diversity and Conflicts in Early Christianity. Essays in Honour of Heikki Räisänen (Supplements to Novum Testamentum, vol. CIII), Brill, Leiden/Boston/Köln 2002, pp. 521-540.

To this can be added a number of articles and reviews in Swedish.

© Hanna Stenström 2001,, ISSN 1661-3317