- The movement to establish the equality of the sexes. Feminist theology is related to modern feminism in general. It derives from women's experience of suffering and oppression. It argues that traditional Christianity, rooted in the Bible, is too masculine and that the faith should be reconstructed in order to do justice to the proper needs and expectations of women who, equally with men, have been made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Such a reconstruction would not, however, be primarily in the interests of female liberation but for the sake of the truth of Christianity: it represents a repudiation of patterns of the sexual superiority of men and the subordination of women which have existed at the deepest levels of thought and feeling and are reflected in much of the OT and NT. Readers of the Bible who are alienated by its patriarchal attitudes are inevitably obliged also to reassess traditional views of the authority of the Bible. For example, its bias towards masculine rationalism would be balanced by the rediscovery of female characteristics in God.Christian feminists point for support to the teaching and attitude of Jesus, who overcame the limitations of his local environment by his welcome to Gentiles as well as Jews, and to women as well as men. Typical of his attitude is the dialogue with the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24–30) and the healing of the woman with menorrhagia (Mark 5:24–34), and he accepted the love of the woman who anointed him (Luke 7:38). Women were the first of the disciples to be told of his resurrection (Mark 16:6). In the gospel of John the mother of Jesus, the two sisters Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalen Magdalene are prominent. In the Church, leadership is exercised by such women as Priscilla (Rom. 16:3), Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11), and Phoebe (Rom. 16:1), and Junia was ‘prominent among the apostles’ (Rom. 16:7). The gospel of Luke is often regarded as particularly sympathetic to women—but they do seem to be presented in roles of service and subordination to men (Luke 8:2–3).
Dictionary of the Bible.
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