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Rosemary Radford Ruether is a Catholic feminist theologian teaching at Garrett Theological Seminary and is a member of the Graduate Faculty of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She teaches courses on the interrelation of Christian theology and history to social justice issues, including sexism, racism, poverty, militarism, ecology, and interfaith relations. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Scripps College (1958), an M.A. in Ancient History (1960) and a Ph.D. in Classics and Patristics (1965) from Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, CA. She holds eleven honorary doctorates, the most recent from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (1994). Ruether is the author or editor of thirty-two books including Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing (1992), Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Feminism, Religion and Ecology (1996), and Gender and Redemption: A Theological History (1997).

 

Abstract of paper given at Christianity and Ecology conference:
Ecofeminism: The Challenge to Theology

This paper has two main sections. In the first section the construction of androcentric hierarchical social systems is traced, as this arises in early urban societies of the Ancient Near East and classical Greece. How Christianity discarded some ideas of ancient Greek cosmology, such as the preexistence and reincarnation of the soul, but incorporated its basic world picture and fused these with the late Hebrew/Christian view of creation, fall and redemption is traced. How this pattern of gender hierarchy in cosmology, and social relations was passed on but also challenged in medieval to early modern Christian thought is also traced. In the second half of the essay, Ruether will suggest the directions of an ecofeminist reconstruction of Christian theological categories in terms of the understanding of the self, soul/body relations, mortality and finitude, the meaning of evil in relation to 'nature' and social relations, the parallel understanding of redemption from evil, the view of God, Christ and revelation in relation to this reconstruction. Finally there is a discussion of the tension between two ethics: the ethic of sustainability and the ethic of preferential option for the poor in relation to an ecofeminist understanding of human/nature/God relations.

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