Tell Me Their Story of Jesus -- By: Micah Daniel Carter

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:2 (Fall 2010)
Article: Tell Me Their Story of Jesus
Author: Micah Daniel Carter

Tell Me Their Story of Jesus

A Review of Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger, Jesus and the Feminists.
Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.

Micah Daniel Carter

Associate to the Vice President
Executive Communications and Relations
LifeWay Christian Resources
Nashville, Tennessee

Margaret Elizabeth Köstenberger is adjunct professor of women’s studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Köstenberger’s thesis is simple: “[W]hat emerges from feminist scholarship on Jesus is not one version of the true Jesus but many different accounts of who feminists perceive Jesus to be” (16). She demonstrates this truth through a rich discussion of the disparate voices arising from religious feminism.

Köstenberger begins her work by laying down some historical and theological “foundations” that the remainder of the book builds upon (15-35). First, there is a brief history of the three “waves” of feminism, showing the movement’s beginnings from 1830 (concerned with racial and social justice) through the 1960s (concerned with gender equality) up to the 1990s and present day (a more radical pursuit of feminist ideology). Second, Köstenberger highlights the importance of hermeneutics in this investigation. Feminists present a mounting attack against the Bible or, at least, traditional biblical interpretation, by reconstructing history, denying authorial intent, rejecting the received canon of Scripture, and dismissing the Bible as “irredeemably patriarchal”—all for the sake of replacing these areas with feminist ideas and reconstructions.

As her starting point for understanding the diversity of feminist thought about Jesus, Köstenberger divides feminists into three camps: radical, reformist, and evangelical. In short, radical feminists reject the Bible wholesale and view Christianity as unusable because of its male, patriarchal bias. Reformist feminists largely reject Christian tradition, but seek to use the Bible as a (or “one”) means of defending a more egalitarian theology. Unlike reformists, who do not hold the Bible as inerrant or authoritative, evangelical feminists reject a critical stance toward Scripture and argue that complete male-female equality is found in its pages.

Köstenberger quotes extensively key feminists in each camp to express the main interpretive concepts, critiques, and theological conclusions related to the identity of Jesus Christ. Even more, she reveals how feminists of all persuasions attempt to use Jesus and his teachings to buttress feminist principles and concerns.

Köstenberger shows that radical feminists, such as Mary Daly, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, and Daphne Hampson have aba...

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