Monday, June 30, 2014

Influential Female Theologians in my Life & Their Books

So I learned about Frank Viola's 100 best academic book list, and some women mentioned that there were only a few women in the entire list, and none in the theology section. I know Frank's heart so I don't attribute this to ill-will or anything like that. I dig the dude. He's a cool cat.

That said, I wanted to contribute a little to the conversation. I won't be breaking my 3 day rule because, technically, Frank's list came out in 2012 and I read it then. I was made aware of the lack of prominent female theologians today on twitter, so . . . splitting hairs. This isn't a response to Frank or anyone in particular. Just giving a few mentors their (over) due. :)

In no specific order are the following books written by female theologians that have had a profound impact on me. The list could go on, but these are the few that instantly pop to mind.

1. Dr. Jouette Bassler's "Navigating Paul." For clocking in at barely 100 pages, this book is primed with data that makes a seminarian like myself breath heavily. On the more critical side, but still really helpful at laying out the key issues in the life of Paul. My sole criticism was the lack of detail regarding the duetero-Pauline corpus. Since it wasn't written by Paul, it wasn't discussed; this is a negative mark only because of the influence Paul surely had upon the theological additions written in his name. I get it. I just wanted more.

2. Dr. Nancey Murphy's "Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies?" This one was a doozy. I confess I was already very much in line with her theological anthropology before reading this, but it helped
significantly. Her clarity and ability to articular very dense concepts was a great help to me. While I would've loved more material in her theological and biblical section, her work cannot be underestimated within Christian and secular spheres.

3. Marianne Meye Thompson's "The Promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament" is particularly relevant to New Testament Christology. While slim, this book crams a lot of
information into a short space. Dr. Thompson's grasp of New Testament theology is well-known, and her contribution, particularly in light of the current evangelical 'subordinationist' trend in many circles, is lucid, straightforward and enlightening. Her section on Second Temple Judaism was, in my opinion, the highlight of the book. If books needed trailers, that chapter would constitute most of the explosions and music.

 4. Dr. Linda Belleville's "Women Leaders and the Church: 3 Crucial Questions" ranks high on my list of books affirming an egalitarian interpretation of Scripture. In reading Dr. Belleville, I'm
reminded of a swim coach I had in high school. Dogged, fiercely intelligent and, above all, demanded that I really jump in the deep end. Dr. Belleville's work elucidates that memory. She covers the world outside the New Testament, critiques current scholarship and advocates strongly for the full inclusion of women in the church. A pointed, yet gracious, matter of fact presentation of the egalitarianism found in Scripture. Super good.

5. Dr. Lynn Cohick's "Women in the World of the Earliest Christians" was an eye-opener for me. While Dr. Cohick does address some of the New Testament texts regarding the status of women in the ancient world (1 Tim. 2:15 is one; John 4 is another), her world is far broader than the New Testament. She delves into manuscripts, ancient letters, inscriptions and the literature of the time. At once broad, yet detail-oriented, her work here was a helpful flick in the ear. I had no idea regarding much of this data and Dr. Cohick brought it all to light for me. And, in case you prefer a pinch of snark in your theological books, every once in a while Dr. Cohick drops a sneaky jab at some ancient sexist patriarch. The cheekiness of it reminds one that they aren't reading a dry textbook, but are engaged in a book of profound significance.

Again, this was not meant as a 'response' to Frank. I actually agree with the majority of the books he placed on the list. And I want to thank him, and others, for inspiring this mini-post. I hope you enjoy these books.

Who would end up on your list?

In Christ,


1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading Kathryn Tanner's 'Christ The Key.' You should check it out!