Three statues of women with hair blowing in the breeze

Feminist Theologians for Women's History Month

From the earliest days of the Christian Church, women have influenced theology, praxis, and led Gospel-centered communities. Figures like Lydia, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of Jesus are powerful and influential figures in the life of the church. But too often women and their experiences have been excluded, dismissed, and suppressed in favor of a masculine perspective. Feminist theologians offer an important correction to the gendered view of God as masculine and expand interpretations of biblical stories and theological frameworks to offer a more inclusive, liberating understanding of theology. Although not an exhaustive list, below are seven women theologians who have shaped theory and praxis of feminist theology for Women’s History Month. 

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Born in Romania to German parents, Schüssler Fiorenza is a Catholic feminist theologian. She spent most of her career at Harvard Divinity School where she did groundbreaking work in biblical interpretation and feminist theology. Her teaching and research focus biblical and theological epistemology, hermeneutics, rhetoric, and the politics of interpretation, as well as on issues of theological education, radical equality, and democracy. Dr. Schüssler Fiorenza is a co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and has been a founding co-editor of the feminist issues of Concilium. She was elected the first woman president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is credited for coining the term ‘kyriarchy’ in her book But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation.

Recommended Reading: In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins

Elizabeth A. Johnson

Elizabeth A. Johnson is a distinguished professor emerita of theology at Fordham University and prominent feminist theologian. Born in Brooklyn, she joined the religious order of the Sisters of St. Joseph as a young adult. She is a former president of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society. Dr. Johnson has fifteen honorary degrees and her works, which include Consider Jesus, She Who Is, Quest for the Living God, and Ask the Beasts, have been translated into thirteen languages. She writes about the mystery of God, Jesus Christ, Mary, saints, science and religion, human suffering, ethics, and issues related to women. 

Recommended Reading: She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse

Ivonne Gebara

Ivone Gebara is a Catholic nun, a Brazilian Sister of Our Lady (Canonesses of St. Augustine) philosopher, and pioneering Latin American ecofeminist and liberation theologian. She was a professor at the Instituto de Teologia de Recife for seventeen years, whose foundations were linked to liberation theology. She has published numerous books and articles in Portuguese and English. Gebara is a leader in the Latin American ecofeminist movement and centers her life and theological work on the needs and experiences of the poor. She gained notoriety in 1995 after revealing publicly that abortion was not a sin. She currently lives in São Paulo and continues to work as a writer and lecturer. 

Recommended Reading: Out of the Depths: Women’s Experience of Evil and Salvation

Diana L. Hayes

Diana L. Hayes is a leading commentator and forger of womanist thought, especially in the Black Catholic setting. She is professor emerita of systematic theology at Georgetown University. Dr. Hayes is the first African American woman to receive the Pontifical Doctor of Sacred Theology degree (S.T.D.) from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and has also received three honorary doctorates. She is the author of 6 books and over 50 articles. Hayes is a member of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, and has contributed to the National Catholic Reporter.

Recommended Reading: Standing the Shoes My Mother Made: A Womanist Theology

Rosemary Radford Ruether

Rosemary Radford Ruether was an American feminist scholar and Roman Catholic theologian known for her significant contributions to the fields of feminist theology and ecofeminist theology. Her teaching and her writings helped establish these areas of theology as distinct fields of study; she is recognized as one of the first scholars to bring women's perspectives on Christian theology into mainstream academic discourse. She was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and her own work was influenced by liberation and black theologies. She taught at Howard University for ten years, and later at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Over the course of her career, she wrote on a wide range of topics, including antisemitism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the intersection of feminism and Christianity, and the climate crisis. Ruether was an advocate of women's ordination, a movement among Catholics who affirm women's capacity to serve as priests, despite official church prohibition, and a board member for the pro-choice group, Catholics for Choice. 

Recommended Reading: Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology

Chung Hyun Kyung

Chung Hyun Kyung is a South Korean Christian theologian. She is a lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, and is also an Associate Professor of Ecumenical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in the United States. Her teaching and research interests include feminist and ecofeminist theologies and spiritualities from Asia, Africa and Latin America; Christian-Buddhist interfaith dialogue; disease and healing in varied religious backgrounds; mysticism and revolutionary social change; as well as the history and critical issues of various Asian Christian theologies.

Recommended Reading: Struggle to be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women's Theology

Ada María Isasi-Diaz

Ada María Isasi-Díaz was a Cuban-American theologian who served as professor emerita of ethics and theology. She was an innovator of Hispanic theology in general and specifically of mujerista theology. She was founder and co-director of the Hispanic Institute of Theology at Drew University until her retirement in 2009. Isasi-Díaz was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, to a Roman Catholic family. Early in her career Ada was very involved in the women's ordination movement within the Catholic Church. Considered one of the founding voices of mujerista theology, she highlighted ways that sexism, ethnic prejudice, and economic oppression subjugate Latinx women, and used the term mujerista as a personal identifier and used mujerista theology to refer to the explanations of the faith and its role in the struggle for liberation.

Recommended Reading: En La Lucha/ In the Struggle: Elaborating a Mujerista Theology

Phyllis Trible

Phyllis Trible is a renowned scholar in the field of feminist biblical scholarship. She has served as the Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature at Union Theological Seminary, as well as numerous administrative and academic roles at Wake Forest University. Trible's scholarship focuses on the Hebrew Bible and she is noted for her prominent influence on feminist biblical interpretation. She has written numerous books on interpreting the Hebrew Bible, and has traveled the globe offering lectures and scholarship. Two central themes to her work include her respect for biblical text, and her commitment to equality for women. Her well-known works include God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality and Rhetorical Criticism.

Recommended Reading: Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives

Are there any other feminist theologians that you would include? Share below!

← Older Post

Leave a comment


What is Ecotheology? 10 Books to Get You Started

What is Ecotheology? 10 Books to Get You Started

Ecotheology is a relatively new area in the field of theological ethics. It brings ecology into conversation with the practices and beliefs of the Christian...

Read more
What Does the Bible Say About Sustainability?

What Does the Bible Say About Sustainability?

Sustainability has become a buzzword in recent years. As more people grow concerned about the effects of climate change and what the future will look...

Read more