Item description for Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza...
This feminist classic explores the ways in which women can read the Christian Bible with full understanding of both its oppressive and its liberating functions. In the substantial new Afterword to this edition, Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza situates "Bread Not Stone" in relation to mainstream Biblical scholarship, Catholic and Protestant theologies, liberation theologies, and nineteenth-century feminist writings on the Bible.
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Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, is Krister Stendahl Professor of Scripture and Interpretation at Harvard Divinity School, and a founding coeditor of Feminist Studies in Religion. She is the author of many books, including Bread Not Stone and But She Said. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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A Neo-Orthodox Feminist Challenge to Critical Hermeneutics Nov 24, 2005
"A feminist critical hermeneutics of suspicion places a warning label on all biblical texts: Caution! Could be dangerous to your health and survival" (Elisabeth Sch-Fiorenza, in: Feminist Interpretation of the Bible)
Bread Not Stone: This collection of essays, were written between 1979 and 85 by one of the leading exegetes, who pioneered Feminist theologians to launch a challenge to the patterns and critique the traditions of patriarchal exegesis. The essays and speech, which dealt with the feminist liberation struggle to Biblical interpretation do not engage in the theory or practice of exegesis, with a minor exception. Sch-Fiorenza's follows from her earlier book In Memory of Her, which tackled this issue. Pheme Perkins comments, "These essays do a much better job than that book does in explaining the method behind the practice."
Sch-Fiorenza Hermeneutic: Schüssler Fiorenza does not support treating the Bible as a timeless archetype, but calls for "re-visioning the Bible as-prototype." The required revision will do justice to the churches; once our experience is the 'canon' for evaluating Scripture, and the Bible is critically scrutinized in its light. She stresses, "No biblical patriarchal text that perpetuates violence against women, children, or 'slaves' should be accorded the status of divine revelation if we do not want to turn the God of the Bible into a God of violence."
Her conclusion is clear; a feminist critical hermeneutic "does not appeal to the Bible as its primary source but begins with women's own experience and vision of liberation."
Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation: A feminist hermeneutic would argue that she cannot be content with any that perpetuate patriarchal domination and hierarchy. We must unmask them as texts promoting patriarchal violence. The biblical text must be evaluated in the light of feminist struggle for women freedom and identity. Phyllis Trible, in her 'Texts of Terror', published same year, expressed those non accepted notions; "Sadly, the scriptures of faith have failed to perceive and interpret the nuances of this story [tragedy of the daughter of Jephthah].
Feminist Theology as Liberating: Sch-Fiorenza argues, women can only discover God's grace and presence in their struggle for liberation, as Dr. Perkins has concluded, "That feminist hermeneutics must part company even with liberation theology. The latter can indeed find a well-established 'option for the poor' as a principle of biblical faith and can claim obedience to biblical revelation for its projects of social justice."
Pioneering Theologian: Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, [Theologicum (MDiv), Lic. Theol., U. of Würzburg, Dr. Theol., U. of Münster] is Professor of Divinity, Harvard, a cofounder and editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and a coeditor of Concilium. She was elected the first woman president of the Society of Biblical Literature. She has done pioneering work in biblical interpretation and feminist theology, and is one of the first advocates of Feminist theology, through feminist critical hermeneutic, she contributed to changing the face of theology, and influence many others contemporary liberation voices.
Very Powerful and Scholarly Work! Jul 25, 2001
This is going to be a combination rating. First of all, in content Fiorenza's book is easily 5 stars. She is exceptionally insightful into the process and presuppositions of biblical interpretation. One important stance that I appreciate is her argument that no interpretation of the biblical author's intended historical meaning is unbiased (like most claim to be). In other words, it's not possible for anyone interpreting the Bible to arrive at an objective historical evaluation of the text. Why? Because both the biblical authors and the Bible's interpreters are framed by their own social and political status. We must recognize this for two reasons. One, to see that the biblical culture and all mainstream interpretation comes from men, which subconsciously supports male dominance. And two, to hear the voices of women, those submerged in the biblical story and those who have not participated in biblical interpretation. When we hear all people's voices, especially those of the oppressed, we can free the biblical text from existing as historical "stone" to speak to us today as "bread" to the equality and justice that God intends!
As for readability this work is usually difficult going, and here I can only give it 3 starts. This is a very scholarly piece and requires a lot of patience for the average reader (like myself). Make sure you read the 1995 reprint of the book, which contains an Afterword that is very helpful in summing up her takes and includes her reflections on reviews of the book. If I were just starting out on this quest, this isn't the first book on biblical interpretation I'd read. Maybe start out with an easier work like Feminist Biblical Interpretation by Letty Russell, and especially Fiorenza's article in it.
All in all this is a great book. I feel fortunate to grasp probably only a small part of what she is thinking. I will be reading her follow-up books to this one: But She Said and Sharing Her Word. If you have patience, you will be truly blessed by Fiorenza's powerful insight into biblical interpretation, and you will see that the Bible from the eyes of women is equally as valid as from the eyes of men, and must be heard! (And if anyone out there knows how to get any of her lectures on tape, please let me know.)