Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Maguire, Daniel

Second Advisor

Schmitt, John J.


Theology and ethics are inextricably bound. The ways in which we perceive our world and its ultimate meaning are intimately bound to the ways in which we live in that world. This dissertation explores this bond by exploring some implications of the work of feminist theology for foundational ethics. Chapter One reviews the literature in feminist theology highlighting work which is significant for theological ethics: the concept of "feminine" sin; recovery of the Sophia-God of the early Jesus movement; extra-Biblical and pre-patriarchal images of God; developments in theological anthropology and soteriology. Chapter Two explores the epistemology and methodology of feminist theology. In order to ground this work, the metaphor of dance is presented as a way of understanding the relationship of mystical experience, moral life, theology and ethics. The exercise of connected knowing is explored as a basic element of a mature theological epistemology. The development of method in feminist theology is discussed, suggesting the mystical/liturgical dimension as an area in need of further development. Chapter Three considers more explicitly the bond between theology and ethics--two emphases of a single daily human experience, the search for meaning and its embodiment in life. An epistemology for theological ethics and its implications for method are suggested. Chapter Four then returns to the developments in content surveyed in Chapter One placing them in conversation with contemporary moral theology and the secular feminist movement. Two works, one of Charles Curran, one of Carol Robb, serve as frameworks for the dialogue. The following insights are posited as the fruits of that dialogue: the threefold Reign of Sophia as a foundation for feminist theological ethics; a theory of conscience based on self-connection rather than self-transcendence; the value of a mystical dimension and its explicit articulation as a continued source and norm for ethics.



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