What’s at Stake: “It’s Hermeneutics!”

Who was Jesus? Was he a chauvinist? A feminist crusader? An egalitarian emancipator of women? In my book Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?, portraits of Jesus painted by proponents of women’s equality are investigated in order to determine how they fit with descriptions in the Gospel narratives. Specific attention is given to the evaluation of the hermeneutical methods employed by the different feminist interpreters. A study of feminist scholarship on Jesus shows that the feminist quest for self-realization has led feminists to distort who Jesus really was. Not only this; the various “Jesuses” resulting from the different feminist attempts to reconstruct Jesus are contradictory, indicating that feminism is a movement divided with regard to Jesus and his approach to women. This article focuses on special issues in the feminist debate regarding Jesus. Issues that are discussed include the reconstruction of history, epistemology, the role of the reader versus authorial intent, canonicity, the alleged patriarchal nature of Scripture, and fundamentalism. Also, the reader is informed as to the most glaring pitfalls of feminist interpretation.