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Decentering Judaism and Christianity: Using Feminist Theory to Construct a Postmodern Jewish-Christian Theology.

The theological politics of difference is a key to theology after the Holocaust.

In response to the Holocaust, American Jewish thinkers Richard Rubenstein, Eliezer Berkovits, and Irving Greenberg each redefined Jewish identity in relation to Christianity by appealing to the essential experience of Jews as oppressed victims of Christian domination throughout history. Yet, these modern Jewish thinkers blurred the very boundaries that they wished to reaffirm, by drawing upon Christian theological motifs to construct theologies of Jewish identity. [1] One could argue that this use of Christian categories to construct Jewish identity arises out of a history of Jewish-Christian symbiosis that has been generated by a dialectic of attraction and repulsion between the two cultures that has been visible in the theological texts of both communities since antiquity. [2]

This dialectical, theological symbiosis illustrates the ongoing formation of a multiple and often contradictory Jewish subjectivity that reflects the postmodern portrayal of identity as being nonessentialistic, dynamic, and constructed over against an "Other." This notion of identity construction radically decenters the modern, autonomous self by shifting the locus of subjectivity from the self to the Other. [3]

Consequently, Jews must construct a postmodern Jewish-Christian theology that moves beyond the discourse created by the Holocaust by deconstructing the master narratives expressing traditional Jewish attitudes toward Christianity. [4] However, this theology should not dissolve the Jewish self into a homogeneous and ahistorical "Judeo-Christian" totality, but rather reconstruct it as a relational self based on the dialectical interrelationship between Jewish and Christian discourses in history. Upon realizing this dialectical interconnection, Jews and Christians can become "reintegrated" through dialogue. [5]

In this essay, I lay the foundation for this "reintegrative theology" by portraying the Jews as "concrete social subjects" based upon the poststructuralist discourse of the Christian feminist theologian Mary McClintock Fulkerson. To account for the diversity of women's experiences based on race, class, and sexual preference, Fulkerson attempts to "change the subject" rather than lose it, by recognizing the complex construction of multiple identities based on the competing discourses of one's social and historical situation. [6]

Fulkerson's poststructuralist feminist theology provides a hermeneutic for a post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian theology that takes into account the postmodern definition of cultural identity as being decentered, while still affirming a collective identity. Jews can expand their sacred canon by including textual intersections of Judaism and Christianity that reflect the dialectical construction of their theologies in relation to each other, enabling Jews to realize their interconnection with Christianity, yet still maintain their particularity.

Poststructuralist Feminism

Just as post-Holocaust Jewish theologians identified Judaism with an essential experience of suffering culminating in the Shoah, modern feminist theologians assumed a commonality of oppression in their constructions of identity under the universal category of women. [7] In response to this somewhat monolithic and dehistoricized model of theology, poststructuralist feminist theologians have challenged essentialist notions of the self by uncovering the cultural and discursive foundations of identity. In contrast to earlier portrayals of female subjectivity based on an essential female nature or an appeal to a common form of women's experience, there is now an emphasis on "particular, concrete identities of women constructed within different material locales and out of varied linguistic and cultural systems." [8]

However, while these feminist theologians account for the situated nature of identity construction, they also face the challenge of constructing normative claims and dealing with the issue of religious truth. [9] I would argue that this is the challenge facing Jewish theologians today as they attempt to reaffirm the relationship between God and Israel while at the same time recognizing that those very terms have been reconstructed to some extent within the multifaceted cultural matrix of Judaism and Christianity throughout history. Poststructuralist feminists must also engage in this delicate balancing act, as they want to maintain their "hard fought sense of female agency," while at the same time deconstructing the stable category of "woman." [10]

Jewish critics reject efforts to deconstruct essential conceptions of Jewish culture as contributing to the erosion of Jewish continuity and stability, while feminist critics question the attempt to deny female subjectivity at a time when women are finally asserting themselves. The poststructuralist feminist theorist Judith Butler responds to this position by claiming that deconstruction does not negate the subject, but rather calls the terra "woman" into question and opens it up "to a reusage or redeployment that previously has not been authorized." [11] Agreeing with Butler, Laurence Silberstein asserts that deconstructing essentialist notions of Judaism is "a positive process that can have the effect of clearing space for new and more adequate formulations of Jewish identity and culture." [12]

However, Silberstein fails to account for Butler's rejection of the term "woman" even as a multiply-constructed identity that is constituted out of a variety of relations. In her analysis of Butler's work, Fulkerson points out that Butler finds this application of the term "woman" problematic because of its continued placement in a "heterosexual discursive network" that deems any bodies resisting this binary construction to be "unnatural, mistaken or deviant." Butler replaces the notion of fixed sexed identity with the idea that gender is based on performance. [13]

Fulkerson's Poststructuralist Feminist Theology

While it is important to reject the privileged status of "heterosexual woman," one does not have to abandon the category of "woman" altogether. Because she abandons the category, Butler's deconstructive hermeneutic may indeed be destructive for a feminist theology. Moreover, it may be an inappropriate model for a reintegrative Jewish-Christian theology that deconstructs Jewish identity without abandoning Jewish subjectivity. Here I turn to the poststructuralist feminist theology of Fulkerson, who is aware of the oppressive possibilities of gendered subject positions. Yet, she retains the discourse of "woman" because of her commitment to particular communities of historical women in situations of oppression who identify themselves and are identified by others as women. [14]

She argues that feminist analysis must account for the many discursive frameworks that constitute subjectivity and raise questions on a community-by-community basis, "asking when 'woman' is the most pressing oppressing opposition and what it means." [15] Fulkerson arrives at this position by first affirming Ferdinand de Saussure's structuralist account of language as a system of signs that are defined synchronically in opposition to each other, instead of being a series of labels that diachronically represent extradiscursive realities.

For feminists, this view of language challenges the historical practice of attaching "natural" meanings to entities such as texts, methods, interpretations, or even gendered subjects. [16] This reification of objects as natural obscures the discursive power dynamic behind their construction. Feminist poststructuralists reject representational assumptions about the term "woman" because they fail to account for the competing signifying processes that constitute women's identity in various social and historical situations. [17]

Similarly after the Holocaust, American Jewish thinkers can no longer define Jewish identity based on an essential claim to be the subjugated Other in a Christian dominated culture. This ignores their simultaneous status as insiders and outsiders to Christian culture. In the United States, Jews are numerically a minority, but perceived to be part of the white patriarchal, Christian majority according to marginalized, African American, Chicano, and Latino groups. [18] Ultimately, this social ambiguity has produced a contradictory American Jewish self-consciousness, wherein Jews' identification and integration with the Christian majority directly conflicts with their equal desire to preserve their minority status in relation to a hegemonic Christian society. [19]

In the modern period, Jewish thinkers have attempted to resist, denigrate, and later reconcile with Christianity, while at the same time interacting with and absorbing Christian theological and cultural discourse. The Jewish-Christian dialectic therefore demonstrates a more complex relationship between subcultures and dominant cultures. In this relationship, the ideas of the dominant culture are neither passively internalized by the subculture, nor are they entirely distinct from them, but instead are actively negotiated at the boundaries between the two cultures and shaped to fit the circumstances of the subculture. [20]

However, despite the allure of the structuralist system as a foundation for cultural identity construction, Fulkerson points out that Saussure's sign system is closed in the sense that it fails to account for the social practices determining its signifying process; more importantly, it does not acknowledge meaning that is produced outside of the system. In response to this, Fulkerson affirms a "textuality" of reality that reflects the construction of meaning out of the continual intersection of different signifying processes. This poststructuralist account of language replaces a dominant signifying pattern of oppositional differences with "multiple differential networks of meaning" that reflect the openness of semiosis. In this semiotic framework, multiple and often conflicting meanings associated with the subject "women" are produced in different historical situations. [21]

Because of her communal, historicist construal of theology, Fulkerson's work may be compared to George Lindbeck's cultural linguistic paradigm. Yet, while both oppose a liberal "extratextual" grounding for theology, Fulkerson distinguishes her "intertextual" economy from Lindbeck's postliberal "intratextual" framework, because the latter is a closed semiotic system that does not allow for meaning to be produced through the interrelationship of different texts or semiotic systems. [22]

Although the intratextual position is supposed to acknowledge the historical importance of the practitioners' changing culture in the preservation of faith, it denies the role of religious adherents in construing the biblical code, and in effect they become passive readers of a fixed biblical narrative. As a result, there ceases to be a relational process of signification in which communities in different social locations throughout history act as signifiers in relation to the ordering discourse of the biblical text in an ongoing, albeit unstable, process of signification.

Because social and cultural realities are textualized along with written texts, the relation between a community in its particular social formation and the biblical text may be referred to as an intertextual relationship. Hence, Fulkerson moves beyond the traditional use of the term intertextuality, as referring merely to the literary intersection of multiple texts embedded in a larger biblical text. Instead, she affirms the intersignifying of any "literary whole" with the "texts" of one's social situation. Specifically, when a religious community reads or "practices" scripture, the competing texts or semiotic codes that constitute its social and cultural formation, are necessary elements in the coding of the biblical text. Discursive orderings of the biblical text appear in several intersecting "games," including dominant and subordinate discourses. [23]

Applying Fulkerson's Model to a Postmodern Jewish-Christian Theology

I agree with Fulkerson's intertextual portrayal of theology, but I would extend this approach to reach across religious and cultural borders as well as between sexual and racial boundaries within a Christian culture. Using the intertextual approach, Jews can affirm a post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian theology that is constituted out of the intersection of Jewish and Christian "discursive games" produced in specific social situations. This reintegrative theology is grounded in a cultural-linguistic paradigm, yet one that is not based on a fixed biblical narrative with a primordial community of interpreters.

Instead, this expanded cultural-linguistic paradigm takes into account the ongoing construction of multiple and competing texts within communities comprised of Jews and Christians in conflict throughout history. This manifold and seemingly incongruous Jewish-Christian canon reveals the multiplicity of a shared biblical text that is continually constructed dialectically out of its intertextual relationship with social, cultural, and political discourses.

In this Jewish-Christian cultural-linguistic paradigm, certain texts have been constructed as part of an authoritative canon by Jewish and Christian interpreters, who have construed conflicting meanings from these sources based on their social and political opposition toward each other. Through these intersecting networks of meaning in history, multiple Jewish texts, practices, and identities have been created in a multicultural context.

Post-Holocaust Jewish thinkers Rubenstein, Berkovits, and Greenberg have contributed to the construction of this Jewish-Christian cultural linguistic paradigm by engaging in what Susannah Heschel calls a "counterhistory" of Christian scholarship begun by the nineteenth-century Wissenschaft des Judentums. This is a genre of history dating back to antiquity that exploits the literary sources of one's adversary "against their grain," consequently replacing one's self-image with a "pejorative counter-image." [24]

Heschel claims that the work of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, and to some extent modern Jewish thought as a whole, "demonstrates a Jewish desire to enter the Christian myth, become its hero, and claim the power inherent in it." [25] These post-Holocaust Jewish thinkers have to one degree or another constructed their own counterhistories of Christian culture by manipulating Christian discourse to reconstruct Jewish as well as Christian theologies.

Rubenstein blamed the Christian as well as Jewish myths for creating the historical climate of the Holocaust, yet he ultimately desired to acquire the power of the Christian myth for himself and the Jewish people following the Shoah. While the Wissenschaft des Judentum had tried to discredit Christianity by claiming it originated from pagan influences, Rubenstein attributed the strength of Christian sacraments to their pagan roots and viewed them as a psychological advance over a repressive and self-punitive rabbinic culture. In his counterhistory of Christian and Jewish cultures, Rubenstein used the power of the Christian myth to criticize and overcome what he perceived to be a submissive Jewish culture and the transcendent, wrathful God of Jewish and Christian histories. Ultimately, Rubenstein wanted to offer strength and consolation to both Jews and Christians after the Holocaust, united by guilt in a world filled with the immanent presence of a non-punitive God. [26]

Although there is no explicit evidence that he directly appropriated Christian motifs in his response to the Holocaust, Berkovits's work seems to reflect a dialectic between an anti-Christian polemic and the reception of Christian influence. In Faith after the Holocaust, Berkovits appears to construct a counterhistory of Judaism and Christianity by recasting Christian culture as the representative of a this-worldly "power history" in opposition to a powerless Israel which occupies a metaphysical "faith history." His reconfiguration of Judaism and Christianity appears to be a mirror image of the Augustinian dualistic historiosophy based on the categories of the "City of God" and "City of Man." Berkovits ultimately reconstructed a post-Holocaust Jewish identity that demonstrates divine power through political powerlessness by exploiting Christian models of suffering and inverting anti-Semitic myths regarding Jewish power. Hence, Berkovits appeared to internalize Christian discourse in his attempt to strengthen Jewish identity over against Christianity following the Holocaust. [27]

In a spirit of reconciliation following Vatican II, Greenberg attempted to reposition Christian as well as Jewish histories in a dialogical relationship. However, in order to accomplish this reconfiguration, he entered the Christian myth and reclaimed the power of core Christian motifs like the crucifixion and resurrection in a Jewish post-Holocaust theology. Moreover, Greenberg unwittingly reversed the power relations between Judaism and Christianity by attempting to make Christianity more rabbinic or this-worldly after the Holocaust. Instead of respecting the faith claims of Christianity, Greenberg appeared to subordinate and incorporate them in a Jewish framework. [28]

Hence, modern Jewish identity must be understood as being constructed to some degree in a Jewish-Christian discursive framework, reflecting an ambiguous distribution of power between Jews and Christians. Moreover, even within Jewish communities, there are dominant discourses expressing an essential Jewish uniqueness in competition with subordinate discourses reflecting the blurred boundaries between Jewish and Christian cultures. While Jewish identity construction has been multiple and inconsistent in a Jewish-Christian cultural-linguistic paradigm, Jews have preserved their identities to a large degree through their religious, social, and political opposition to Christianity.

Following the Holocaust, Jews must continue to concern themselves with their religious, social, and political relationship to Christian culture because they face opposition from both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, right wing white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK view Jews as the demonic minority with financial and political control over the majority Christian culture. On the other hand, Jews have been associated with the majority Christian "monoculture" by many multiculturalists. Ironically, they view Jews as part of the white European "Judeo-Christian" majority that has colonized minority cultures and is responsible for patriarchy. [29]

Yet, while justifiably concerned with continued antisemitism, Jewish thinkers should not conceive of theological meaning based on polemics and apologetics. Instead, their religious practices should be generated by a concern for dialogue. [30] Acting as signifiers in relation to the ordering discourse of biblical and rabbinic literature, Jews can construct a Halakhah or path toward identity acknowledging their Christian Other, without diminishing their own identities. In this way, they continue the work of the Rabbis to construct a Torah she b'al peh (oral Torah) in relation to the Torah she b'ktav (written Torah).

While Jewish identity is decentered in relation to Christianity, Jews neither capitulate to a Christian other, nor do they continue to be passive readers of normative biblical and rabbinic literature. Instead, Jewish communities become active producers of religious meaning and practice in relation to Christian culture by entering into theological dialogue with Christians to uncover their shared cultural linguistic paradigm that is really an historical foundation for their interwoven theologies. Just as their forebears have constructed Jewish theologies at the boundary with Christian culture, contemporary Jews continue the process of aligning and realigning the borders they share with Christians. However, instead of reifying Jewish identity as an unchanged essence in opposition to Christianity, Judaism may be defined relationally, continually shaped by its contextual bearings.

One could argue that this particular Jewish construction of multiple identities vis-a-vis Christianity is emblematic of a more universal, postmodern understanding of religious identity as being formed out of an intersection of cultures rather than one culture. Instead of viewing cultures as internally consistent wholes, the Jewish-Christian cultural linguistic paradigm presents us with a picture of religious cultures that are fragmentary and indeterminate, possessing porous boundaries that are constantly being redefined in response to shifts in the religious practices of neighboring cultures.

In Theories of Culture, Kathryn Tanner employs the methods of cultural studies to analyze Christian theology and comes to the conclusion that religious identity is based more on how one uses shared cultural materials rather than "the distribution of entirely discrete cultural forms to one side or the other of a cultural boundary.... Different ways of life establish themselves, instead, in a kind of tussle with one another over what is to be done with the materials shared between them." Consequently, Tanner describes Christian identity as being established at a cultural boundary "of use" in the sense that Christians construct their identities through the use of cultural forms shared with "other religions (notably Judaism).... Christianity is a hybrid formation through and through." [31]

These modern examples of the Jewish-Christian cultural linguistic paradigm validate from the Jewish perspective what Tanner affirms regarding Christianity's relationship with Judaism and other religions: religious uniqueness is not preserved within a boundary, but rather produced through cultural interaction at the boundary where theological statements are made. Normative theological positions often appear to be a "transformative and reevaluative commentary" on the claims of another culture with whom the religious group interacts, in the sense that "theological statements mouth the claims of other cultures while giving them a new spin." [32] Hence, instead of necessarily defending religious uniqueness, theological apologetics, polemics, and ultimately dialogue actually construct religious identity out of a shared religious and cultural discourse.

However, this instability of discourse does not indicate a total relativism of meaning, but rather the fact that in each social or cultural situation there will always be some beliefs that must be granted more force than others. Here, Fulkerson claims that one can be an epistemological nihilist by problematizing knowledge without being an "alethiological nihilist," one who denies that there is any truth. [33] She argues that the truth of faith is tied to the narratives of a broken world whose fragmentation is resisted and transformed in inconsistent and unpredictable ways, rather than in a linear, teleological fashion as suggested by Christian metanarratives. This fragmented truth emerges when there are convergences of scripture or cultural discourse that lead individuals and communities to replace hegemonies with relationships based on mutuality in which there is respect for the Other. [34]

In order to avoid creating a hegemonic discourse that falsely universalizes women's oppression, Fulkerson proposes a feminist "theology of affinity" rather than one based on a shared identity, because the former does not appropriate other women's experiences that could lead to domination of the Other. Instead, a feminist theologian should construct "the just-barely-possible affinities" with other women that respects their subjectivities. Consequently, while this theology affirms possibilities of women's liberation from oppression, it problematizes the notion of "woman." Moreover, this theological approach reveals its inherently contradictory nature as representing both an oppressed group and one that is considered to be an oppressor by African American women. [35] When addressing Christian feminists, Fulkerson claims that religious faithfulness entails resisting the evil of sexism. She envisions that this grass-roots feminist resistance to sexism will generate a "theological politics of difference," characte rized by communities that transgress sexual hierarchies. [36]

I wish to affirm this "theological politics of difference" as a hermeneutic for a reintegrative Jewish-Christian theology after the Holocaust that transgresses religious and cultural borders. A Jewish-Christian cultural-linguistic paradigm produces theologians out of multiple communities of dialogue, rather than a "professional managerial class" of Jewish and Christian theologians claiming to represent the other. I agree with Fulkerson and David Kelsey that theologians should abandon the Wissenschaft model of acquiring knowledge that is so "rigorously self critical." By constructing theology in this way, theologians attempt to resolve contradiction, difference, and instability by achieving closure and creating intellectual wholes. As a result, certain subjects of experience and knowledge are diminished or negated. [37]

This totalizing type of theology is present in the post-Holocaust anti-Christian polemic of Berkovits and in the internalization of Christian anti-Semitism by Rubenstein. While Berkovits portrays Christianity as an essentially militant culture responsible for the Holocaust, Ruben-stein depicts Judaism monolithically as a powerless and anxiety-ridden community. Even Greenberg's dialogical theology of shared Jewish and Christian identities inevitably becomes a hegemonic, universalizing discourse, because he appropriates Christian experience and circumscribes it in a Jewish context.

Fulkerson's postmodern theology of affinity would be a more appropriate model for a Jewish-Christian theology, because it moves beyond the modern, liberal discourse of inclusion by recognizing affinities with the Other while at the same time problematizing the subject. While feminist theologians have begun to recognize the contradictory nature of women's identity as both oppressed and oppressor, Post-Holocaust Jewish theologians have not yet taken into account the contradictory self-perception of American Jews as being part of the majority Christian culture while at the same time seeing themselves as a persecuted minority.

Ultimately, Jews can recognize and assist their Christian Other by reconstituting themselves. By moving from a self-referential identity to one based on relation, Jews can resist totalization and closure, enabling the Other to surface and define itself on its own terms. While risking fragmentation and destabilization, Jews must immerse themselves in intertextual discourse to discover who they really are in relation to Christians and perhaps most importantly to God.

MARC A. KRELL is Assistant Professor for the Committee on Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona. His article was originally presented as a paper at the 1999 Joint Conference of the Western Jewish Studies Association and the Midwest Jewish Studies Association at Colorado College.


(1.) See my discussion of these Jewish thinkers in Marc A. Krell, "Intersecting Pathways: Jewish Appropriations of Christian Motifs" (Ph.D. diss., Graduate Theological Union, 1998).

(2.) In Perceptions of Jewish History, Amos Funkenstein identifies the development of a "common language" shared by Judaism and Christianity in the medieval period that is used to express "contradictory propositions." He argues that the "conscious rejection of values and claims of the other religion was and remained a constitutive element in the ongoing construction" of Jewish and Christian identities. Moreover, he claims that there are "no other two religions tied to each other with such strong mutual bonds of aversion and fascination, attraction and repulsion." See Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 170, 199. In my dissertation, I acknowledge Steven Wasserstrom's portrayal of the medieval Jewish-Muslim encounter as one of dialectical symbiosis. However, I agree with Funkenstein's contention that, in general, medieval Jews and Muslims exhibited more of an indifference toward each other than a hostility, which is illustrated in their relative lack of polemical literature in contrast to the hundreds of Jewish-Christian polemical treatises. See Wasserstrom, Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem of Symbiosis under Early Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), esp. 3, 9, 224; Funkenstein, Perceptions, 170; Krell, "Intersecting Pathways," 1--3.

(3.) For a more detailed discussion of postmodern Jewish identity construction, see Laurence J. Silberstein, "Others Within and Without: Rethinking Jewish Identity and Culture," in The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Thought and Culture, ed. Laurence J. Silberstein and Robert L. Cohn (New York: New York University Press, 1994), 1--15, "Toward a Postzionist Discourse," in Judaism Since Gender, ed. Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt (New York and London: Routledge, 1997), 95--101, and "Postzionism, Postmodernism, and Postcolonial Theory: A Radical Critique," in The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 1999).

(4.) In Reasoning after Revelation, Robert Gibbs suggests that the term "post-Holocaust" does not refer to a theology in response to the Holocaust, but rather refers to Jewish scholarly work that follows the discourse of the Holocaust. However, he maintains that for him, the term "postmodern" is not historical, but rather refers to a way of thinking that could develop in many different periods of history. Moreover, Kepnes asserts that the term "post-Holocaust" indicates a new beginning for postmodern Jewish thought that follows the failed philosophies of the modern period that "...married the Jewish notion of divine providence with modern progress and the modern salvific ideologies of socialism and democratic capitalism...." See Kepnes, Ochs and Gibbs, Reasoning after Revelation: Dialogues in Postmodern Jewish Philosophy (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998), 40--42.

(5.) As with Nancy Miller's theory of object relations in Subject to Change, Christian, poststructuralist feminist Mary McClintock Fulkerson describes the self as no longer a substance, but rather "a relation or sets of relations" whose identity is formed out of differences. See Fulkerson, Changing the Subject: Women's Discourses and Feminist Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 82. Similarly, Katherine Keller portrays a "connective self" and argues that the terms "self" and "relation" have been falsely dichotomized. While relation may lead to dependency, it also offers the possibility of freedom. See Keller, From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism, and Self (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), 2--3, 91--92.

In work similar to that of Athalya Brenner's examination of the prophets, Jewish feminist Rachel Adler has constructed a theology that is based to some degree on an ethics of interrelationship in the biblical text even amidst the patriarchal model of dominance and submission. In this "Torah of Self and Other," she portrays fluid boundaries between self and other and posits the human capacity to create "intersubjective space" which makes the divine-human covenant possible. See Adler, "A Question of Boundaries: Toward a Jewish Feminist Theology of Self and Others," Tikkun 6, no. 3 (May/June 1991), and Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1998), 111-19.

(6.) Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, 7-9.

(7.) Linell Cady, "Identity, Feminist Theory, and Theology," in Horizons in Feminist Theology: Identity, Tradition and Norms, ed. Rebecca S. Chopp and Sheila Greeve Davaney (Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 1997), 19-21; Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, 5-8.

(8.) Davaney, "Continuing the Story but Departing the Text," in Horizons in Feminist Theology 204-5.

(9.) Jones, "Women's Experience between a Rock and a Hard Place," in Horizons in Feminist Theology 34, 46-47; Chopp, "Theorizing Feminist Theology," in Horizons in Feminist Theology 220-21.

(10.) Davaney, "Continuing the Story," 210; Silberstein, "Toward a Postzionist Discourse," 98.

(11.) Judith Butler, "Contingent Foundations," in Feminists Theorize the Political, ed. Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott (New York and London: Routledge, 1992), 15. Cf Silberstein, "Toward a Postzionist Discourse," 98-99.

(12.) Silberstein, "Toward a Postzionist Discourse," 99.

(13.) Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, 82-83.

(14.) Ibid., 85.

(15.) Ibid.

(16.) Ibid., 68-75.

(17.) Ibid.

(18.) In response to this social ambiguity, David Biale raises the question as to whether it is appropriate for Jewish scholars to claim to represent Jewish identity objectively as a "subaltern" voice in response to a hegemonic Christian culture. Moreover, he claims that this situation has led to the emergence of a new type of "deconstructive apologetics" that is best illustrated by Jewish feminists who are engaged in a double polemic, one internally waged against the exponents of the patriarchal, rabbinic framework, and one externally enacted against those anti-Jewish feminists who attribute the origin of patriarchy to rabbinic Judaism. See Biale, "Between Polemics and Apologetics: Jewish Studies in the Age of Multiculturalism," Jewish Studies Quarterly 3, no. 2 (1996): 177, 184. On this issue, see also Susannab Heschel, "Jewish Studies as Counterhistory," and Sara Horowitz, "The Paradox of Jewish Studies in the New Academy" in Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism, ed. David Biale, Michael Ga lchinsky, and Susannah Heschel (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1998), 103-4, 112-13, 119-29.

(19.) Biale, Galchinsky, and Heschel, "Introduction: The Dialectic of Jewish Enlightenment," in Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1998), 5.

(20.) Ibid., 8-10.

(21.) Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, 74-79.

(22.) Ibid., 160-61.

(23.) Ibid., 165-66. In Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash, Daniel Boyarin accepts the intertextuality of the biblical text, but also argues for the intertextuality of rabbinic midrash that grows out of it. Like Fulkerson, Boyarin asserts that the midrashic text is constructed out of both a dialogue and dialectic between rabbinic and biblical texts as well as one between rabbinic texts themselves. He argues that the model for this dialogue and dialectic is the biblical text itself. Boyarin also points to cultural codes that both consciously or unconsciously "constrain and allow the production (not creation) of new texts within the culture." However, while questioning the relationship of signs and signifieds throughout the book, Boyarin maintains a structuralist position, affirming a less ethnocentric, yet relatively closed rabbinic system of midrashic literature. See Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrosh (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990), x, 11-19.

(24.) Heschel, "Jewish Studies," 102, 108. Cf. Amos Funkenstein, Perceptions of Jewish History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 36, 48. Walter Benjamin was the first to refer to sources being used "against their grain" in "Theses on the Philosophy of History," compiled in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 257.

(25.) Ibid., 109-11.

(26.) See Krell, "Intersecting Pathways," 102-52.

(27.) Ibid., 161-80, 190-94.

(28.) Ibid., 205-7, 221-47.

(29.) See Horowitz's discussion of this two-pronged antisemitic threat to contemporary Jews in "The Paradox of Jewish Studies in the New Academy."

(30.) See the most recent public statement of Jewish support for dialogue with Christians by Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Davad Novak, Peter Ochs, and Michael Signer: "Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity," New York Times, September 10, 2000, sec. 1, p. 23. Yet, whereas these scholars and other rabbis promote only an ethical dialogue based on a shared ethical foundation, I argue that a theological dialogue is necessary in order to come to a fuller understanding of the dialectical construction of Jewish and Christian identities in relation to each other throughout history.

(31.) Kathryn Tanner, Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology, Guides to Theological Inquiry Series, ed. Kathryn Tanner and Paul Lakeland (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 112-14.

(32.) Ibid., 115-16.

(33.) Fulkerson, Changing the Subject., 363-64, 372-74.

(34.) Ibid., 376.

(35.) Ibid., 384-86.

(36.) Ibid., 394-95.

(37.) David Kelsey, To Understand God Truly: What's Theological about a Theological School (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 228. Cf. Fulkerson, Changing the Subject, 387-89. See also Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. Colin Cordon, trans. Colin Cordon (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 84-85.
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Date:Dec 22, 2000
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