Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In her reconstructive efforts, Schüssler Fiorenza challenges traditional views of biblical authority by revealing the biases of biblical authors. She asserts that the early Christian writers transmitted only a tiny portion of the possibly rich traditions of women’s contributions to the early Christian missionary movement. She suggests that this duplicitous omission was due, in part, to the bitter struggle for or against women’s leadership that occurred during the time of the canonization of the Christian scriptures.

In addition, Schüssler Fiorenza discusses the mixed impact that the apostle Paul had on women’s leadership; she reminds the reader not to oversimplify Pauline theology. On one hand, Paul’s writings inscribe a “democratic” vision of equality in the Spirit; on the other hand, he imposes patriarchal submission on women, in such areas as worship and marriage, as the “Word of God.” Here, the author advances a theory of interpretation that tries to unravel the patriarchal politics inscribed in the biblical text. Accordingly, she suggests that one ascertains theologically whether scriptural texts function to inculcate patriarchal values, or whether they must be read against—even freed from—androcentric linguistic structures. When the later occurs, these texts offer a liberating vision of Christianity.

Another significant theme in Schüssler Fiorenza’s work is her development of the theological concept of the...

(The entire section is 508 words.)