Monday, May 7, 2007
For this first in a series of things I love, I must allow my personal studies to smash with my personal life (I know, weird, right?) I am still working on the Samaritan Woman at the well. I can't fully go into it here, but one of the main problems for feminist interpretation is the way she is portrayed as sexually immoral. The main problem for evangelicals/traditionalists is how she is portrayed as an effective missionary, fulfilling the various tenets of being a true disciples/apostle. The result is that many feminists reject this story as androcentric because of the underlying patriarchal bias that displays God as faithful husband and Israel as unfaithful wife. In turn, many traditionalists undermine her witness and apostolic virtue because of her questionable past. This truly is a sticky wicket, and until now I have had a hard time knowing how to navigate it. Then today, I read Sandra Schneiders.
She wrote a book in the early 80's called The Revelatory Text (the early 80's were the best time for Johannine studies. Also of note are Staley's The Print's First Kiss and Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative). In her conclusion on what to do with this tension, she says, "There is an intrinsic tension between the total inclusivity of this world as ideal and the lingering sexism in the idolatry/adultery prophetic metaphor, which carries a God/male/faithful versus human/female/faithless domination and subordination dynamic, at least potentially. They are not two worlds set side by side. And the disciple-reader cannot exit from one to enter the other. We inhabit a complex situation that is “already” and “not yet.”
After this, here is her conclusion, "The feminist reader is not called to overlook the “flaw” in this passage, much less to appropriate it into her or his self-image as a Christian or to legitimate its effects in family, society, or Church. She or he is called to struggle for the transformation of this world into the world of discipleship that the text, imperfectly but nevertheless really, projects."
I love it so much. It combines so many things that I believe are right...the messy tension of inaugurated eschatology, the genuine Anabaptist vision of the Kingdom of God (not the separatist mis-application that people like to point at to delegitimize the beauty of it), liberationism, etc.
I hope that I took you with me enough here to understand the significance of this. If not I am sorry. That is my greatest weakness. That is not meant as some sort of arrogance. I do not necessarily expect you to track with me on something I have been researching for two months and set up in two paragraphs. Anyway, this is my love of the week. Actually two...Johannine scholarship in the early 80's and Sandra Schneiders as a significant part of that.