Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

On the Connotation and Function of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s “Kyriarchy”

Author: SONG Xuhong, Professor, School of Literature Journalism and Communnication, Minzu University of China



This paper focuses on Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s feminist theology as a critique and reconstruction of contemporary feminism through analyzing one of her key concepts, ““Kyriarchy”,” as well as her proposal of “the Ekklésia of women”. “Kyriarchy”, a word created by Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, replaces the core feminist of concept “Patriarchy,” a term favored by Second Wave and Third Wave western feminists, which in Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s view take only sexism as the source of women’s oppression. Kyriachy, on the contrary, has its roots in ancient Greco-Roman democracy and Christology, and covers a more comprehensive understanding of woman’s oppression: treating sexism, class, race, and other socio-political elements as sources of the suppression of women through history. In coining the term “kyriarchy” to criticize and refute mainstream western feminist thought, Schüssler Fiorenza drew on Liberation Theology, as well as Womanist Theology and Marxist Feminist theology. Schüssler Fiorenza also proposed the “Ekklésia of women” as an ideal model for a feminist reconstruction of an egalitarian world. As a concept “kyriarchy” has its limitations, but the term remains largely unknown in the Chinese academic world, and the absolute liberation of women that it seeks needs affirming.


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