The Feminist Christology of Rosemary Radford Ruether
In the present essay I wish to discuss the contribution of a feminist theologianRosemary Radford Ruether to Christology, a field of theology that according toGerard O’Collins’ definition ‘reflects systematically on the person, being, and thedoing of Jesus of Nazareth’
. In the course of the discussion I will consider thechallenges and corrective critiques formulated by Ruether in her christology againstthe traditional version of the Roman Catholic Church. In doing this, I hope toillustrate how all the elements of O’Collins’ definition are destabilized, andreconfigured in a Christology, which is worked out in a dialectical relationship tohistory of culture, and the experiences of those for whom it has in the past andcontinues to have lasting implications. As Ruether’s christology is done from bellow,it is important to begin with an outline of the experiences drawn upon for theformulation of her methodological framework.The enduring exclusion of women’s experiences from all aspects of the Church life,and theology, for Ruether (as for other feminist theologians) is a clear reflection of the broader, and more immediate oppression of women in the present patriarchal society.Since Christ, particulaly as a historical figure, has been mediated for the past twomillennia from the mouth of a patriarchal Church’s ministry within, and to, ahierarchical patriarchal society, this is doubly significant.
Firstly, this history of theconfession of, and faith in Christ has unfolded in a culture whose main matrices aresexism and domination. Thus, it is possible that Christ has been compromised by it, perhaps beyond redemption. This issue is central to what Ruether attempts to
1 Gerard O‘Collins, SJ,
Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus Christ
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p.1.2 Rosemary Radford Ruether,
To Change the World: Christology and Cultural Criticism
(London:SCM Press, 1981) p.1.