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She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse
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She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  675 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Winner of the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. This classic explains what feminist theology is and how can we rediscover the feminine God within the Christian tradition. A profound vision of Christian theology, women’s experience, and emancipation.
Paperback, 10th Anniversary Edition, 344 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by The Crossroad Publishing Company (first published 1992)
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Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this during theology studies, though not as part of the curriculum. (I took it with me to West Virginia while doing mission work with church youth groups.) I wish I'd read it sooner. It's changed the way I think about God and the way I think about the institutional church. It helps me that Elizabeth Johnson writes from within the Catholic Christian tradition. While this book is painstakingly researched and clearly presented, it doesn't keep the subject matter academic or theoretical. A gu ...more
Sabrina Peters
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction to feminist God-talk, whether or not you agree with her conclusions.
Elizabeth Hall
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
You know that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy is looking for the Holy Grail, and he chooses the most humble cup among all the gem-encrusted, golden splendor before him? I love that scene, because it rings so true to my idea of God, and of Jesus—of course Jesus would drink from a simple cup. I had the same feeling after finishing Elizabeth A. Johnson’s She Who Is—a feeling that here, truly, is where God dwells. But in this case, the feeling is not a foregone conclusion—it is more like ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book fell into what I consider a lot of really bad ideas about a feminine nature of God, and an alternative thereof. I don't disagree with the project at all, but I feel there are some serious mistakes in Johnson's approach.

One of her major points is finding feminine characteristics in the linguistics of the Bible. She points to Shekinah, a few OT references and mainly to Sophia. While I find those do legitimize a change in the view of God, they are scant, more linguistic than revelatory, a
T.Kay Browning
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Maybe sits a little too firmly in orthodoxy to really get me excited, but it was still a great book. Walking the line between orthodoxy and authentic feminism is done really well in this book. I just want to sit down with her and have a good long talk and I would come out a much better person. Best read of the semester, I think.
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reflections
several years ago, a religious mentor of mine insisted i read this book. i am glad she did. "She Who Is" is a bit dense, and slightly repetitive-- nonetheless, conceptualizing god as a woman has had a powerful impact on my spirituality.
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
A great introduction to Catholic feminist theology. Johnson has a mastery of the tradition and language of Catholic theology which makes for a brilliant work.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Marcus
Shelves: read-in-2017
She Who Is is an academic nonfiction book explaining the crucialness of using feminine metaphors and descriptions when speaking about God and the mystery of God. Historically, masculine metaphors and descriptions have dominated discussion of God, which contributed to the growth and continued promotion of the patriarchy.

Johnson is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, as well as being a professor at Fordham University. Her Catholic background leads her to use many examples and references to imag
Ephrem Arcement
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on my radar for many years now, and I'm happy to have finally gotten around to reading it. Sr. Elizabeth's clear and concise argumentation benefits her subject well in this exploration of God from a feminist perspective. How should this book be evaluated 25 years since its initial publication? For many, her insights have become the accepted norm. For others, a strong resistance remains. Is there any hope to bridge the divide? Slowly but surely I think the chasm is being traver ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is not just a great book on feminist theology; that would be a merit in itself. It is, however, also an important statement on the doctrine of God in Christian theology. The greatness of this work is that it blends feminist critique with the wealth of the tradition. She accomplishes the impossible by bringing the two together, preserving both the insights of the past with the liberative elements in feminist discourse. Very powerful and important book! For me, it will continue to be an ...more
David Ruiz
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Siendo este mi primer acercamiento a la teología feminista lo considero una excelente aproximación para comenzar a hablar de una manera adecuada sobre el misterio de Dios para libéranos de la forma clásica donde nos hemos hecho una imagen de Dios como masculino. Hablar de Dios a la luz de la realidad de las mujeres y comprendiéndola más allá del género apunta a la liberación de “la representación exclusiva y literal del Dios patriarcal. La cual sustenta así la continua subordinación de las mujer ...more
M Christopher
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
A truly excellent theology, accessible and clearly written but without "talking down" to the reader. Grist for the mill for any preacher who wants to deal honestly with the feminine aspects of God in three persons.
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Theology as a "symphony of voices, sharply discordant at times (pg. 11)."

The "legendary Noah Principle: no more prizes for predicting rain; prizes only for building arks (pg. 17)."

Quoting Martin Buber, Johnson notes, "The races of man with their religious factions have torn the word [God] to pieces...Certainly they draw caricatures and write 'God' underneath (pg. 44)." The ill actions come FIRST, then God's name gets attributed to them. Not the other way around.

"Is it not the case that the very
Robert D. Cornwall
Western Christian theology has for the most part been expressed in masculine terms. The Trinity is understood to be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While the Spirit is malleable enough to include the feminine, we tend to focus on the masculine, monarchian vision of God. Elizabeth Johnson, a Feminist Roman Catholic Theologian (recently silenced as a Catholic teacher) wrote some years ago a powerful exposition of theology from a feminist perspective. As a male Euro-American theologian/pastor I must ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: scholarship, theology
A 4.5-5-star book when it comes to highlighting the patriarchal assumptions in the ways we talk about God and the effects that talk can have for the status and faith of women. But Johnson alternates between cogent, elegant prose and word soup, and her descriptions of the various elements of the Trinity seem dropped into the middle of the book, almost as if they were written for a different project and inserted because they have tangential application to the broader point. The opening chapters, t ...more
Feminist Theology class requirement; very enjoyable and informative read. Not my favorite from the class so far as it is an older publication and does not have updated resources. Sister Elizabeth Johnson is evidently dedicated to her work reconciling feminist discourse with judeo-christian, mostly Catholic, values. My reaction to it all is to push against a gender binary system, to reject imposed standards of gender and welcome human equality regardless of genetic sex.
Long road to travel, much
Trish Remley
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book in bits and pieces over a long period of time (couple years). Although I don't remember all the details, I do remember the underlying themes. Very nice to read such a book presenting Catholic thought in a different manner. Why does the male hierarchy exist? Why is God thought of as male only? I don't and it's refreshing to read some background and feminist theology. Thank you for lending me this book Sister.
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Megan by: Daniel Harrington, S.J.
Shelves: theology
Best quote: “If evil and suffering cannot be explained away, given a positive interpretation, or made intelligible, what is the point of speaking of the suffering God, even in feminist theology? Only this: that such discourse facilitates the praxis of hope. Against the background of the history of human injustice and suffering, the suffering God is a most productive and critical symbol for it cannot be uttered without human beings hearing the challenge to solidarity and hope."
Carmel Ann Sperti
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly challenging piece of theology to read, both for its content and complexity. Elizabeth Johnson weaves a tight and balanced argument for believers to embrace both male and female images of God, using Scripture and scholarship blended with her own deep spirituality. A must-read for admirers of her theology. If you are looking for hard-line, combative feminism, however, you will be disappointed, as this author never lets an agenda overcome her scholarship and clear thinking.
Phyllis Fredericksen
I was interested in reading this book as it was reviewed as stating the argument for inclusive language when speaking about God. It did to an extent;however, it leaned more toward feminine language for God. Not wrong, but I feel that inclusive is much better. Language is very important to me and I feel that we should acknowledge God as both female and male....we are made in God's image after all. I used the book as a meditation, but found that it was a tad over my head...interesting though.
Marylee Raymond
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a real academic book. I'm reading it for book group at church (the women's ministry -- "It Was The Women Who Stayed"). Tough reading -- a zillion footnotes. Very academic, but the feminism bursts through. Can't wait for book group (I wonder how many folks actually finished the book...)

What made the Vatican put their underwear in knots anyway??
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. I am a big fan of Elizabeth Johnson's work.

It is a bit slow and academic which might put off some readers but, stick with her.

I've read lots of authors on the topic, some from the era that this book was written and some more recent. It is a foundation sort of text on the topic of the feminine nature of God.

Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have not read much theology. However, I found this book fascinating as Johnson traces the history of how an androcentric world has co-opted the language of scripture to create a world view of G_d as male and how this has lead to the continued subservient role of women in many religious/world settings. Scholarly, but readable.
Michelle Marvin
Definitely a 'classic' in third wave feminist theology literature. I wish she hadn't concluded with a dark chapter on human suffering, but had followed it up with a more practical, call-to action. There is plenty that one could argue about in this book, but, as an Elizabeth Johnson fan, I have to say that I was even more pleased with the book overall than I had expected to be.
Katie Kent
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
We read this in our theology book group - quite fascinating although difficult to understand at times. This book is a theology textbook - very thorough and full of doctorate-speak, but the concepts were easy enough to understand and interesting to discuss. I would definitely recommend it to those interested in feminist theology, or those having trouble relating to a male-depicted symbol of God.
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Johnson is an excellent Catholic theologian. Her theology is based solidly in scripture and tradition. It's time for the church to move from the androcentric theology and ecclesial praxis that rose from the medieval feudal period.
Miranda Fox
May 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
I have issues with feminism as I think it tends to make as many problems as it addresses. This book was a good example of this and I wasn't a huge fan of the whole Sophia thing as it was used in this book
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly useful. Struggled a bit with the emphasis on God's unknowability. At a certain point all discussion about God would have to cease if that was true. Strongest content was the chapters on God as Sophia.
This was a very good, but very difficult, read. The author is very wordy and the book reads like a textbook. Nonetheless it is informative and eye-opening. A recommended read for anyone seeking more understanding about the language about God.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in Professor Irish's "Experience of God" course, and, like all the books and all the lectures in that class, it opened my eyes to a whole new view to theology. We read many theologians during the semester, but Johnson was one of my personal favorites.
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Johnson grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of seven children in an "Irish Catholic family." As a young adult she joined the religious order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph whose motherhouse is in Brentwood, Long island, NY. She received a B.S. from Brentwood College in 1964, an M.A. from Manhattan College in 1964.

1981, she became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in theology at the Catholic Un
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