Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

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Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (born 17 April 1938, Cenad) is a Romanian-born German, Roman Catholic [1] feminist theologian, who is currently the Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School.


She was born Elisabeth Schüssler in Cenad, in the Banat region of the Kingdom of Romania, where she belonged to the Banat Swabian German-speaking Catholic population of an ethnically mixed community. As the Russian army advanced through Romania in late 1944, her parents fled with her to southern Germany. They subsequently moved to Frankfurt. where she attended local schools. She then received her Theologicum (Licentiate of Theology) from the University of Würzburg in 1963, the thesis for which was published in German as Der vergessene Partner (The Forgotten Partner) in 1964. She subsequently earned the degree of Doctor of Theology from the University of Münster. In 1967 she married Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, an American theologian who was studying in Germany. In 1970, they both secured teaching appointments at the Catholic University of Notre Dame, where they had their daughter, Christina. She then taught at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[2]

In 1984 Schüssler Fiorenza was one of 97 theologians and religious persons who signed A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion, calling for religious pluralism and discussion within the Catholic Church regarding the Church's position on abortion.[3]

Schüssler Fiorenza subsequently became a co-founder of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (a journal of which she is still editor).[4] She was then appointed as the first Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. Her husband, Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, is Professor of Roman Catholic Studies at the same institution.

Schüssler Fiorenza identifies as Catholic and her work is generally in the context of Christianity, although much of her work has broader applicability.

Schüssler Fiorenza is a co-editor of Concilium.[4] She was the first woman elected as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.[4]

In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins is one of Schüssler Fiorenza's earliest and best-known books. This work, which argued for the retrieval of the overlooked contributions of women in the early Christian church, set a high standard for historical rigor in feminist theology. Additionally, she has published widely in journals and anthologies.

Schüssler Fiorenza has been credited for coining the word "kyriarchy" in her book But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation.


  • Der vergessene Partner: Grundlagen, Tatsachen und Möglichkeiten der beruflichen Mitarbeit der Frau in der Heilssorge der Kirche (1964)
  • Priester für Gott: Studien zum Herrschafts- und Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse. NTA NF 7(1972)
  • The Apocalypse(1976)
  • Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation. Proclamation Commentaries together with Fuller, Sloyan, Krodel, Danker (1977 /1981)
  • Invitation to the Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Apocalypse with Complete Text from the Jerusalem Bible (1981)
  • Lent. Proclamation II: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year. Series B, [together with Urban T. Holmes] (1981)
  • In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (1983)
  • Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation (1985)
  • Revelation: Vision of a Just World (1991)
  • But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (1992)
  • Discipleship of Equals: A Critical Feminist Ekklesialogy Of Liberation (1993)
  • Jesus: Miriam's Child, Sophia's Prophet: Critical Issues in Feminist Christology (1994)
  • The Power of Naming (1996)
  • Sharing Her Word: Feminist Biblical Interpretation in Context (1998)
  • Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies (1999)
  • Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation (2000)
  • Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation (2001)
  • The ninth chapter of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion, edited by Ann Braude. (2004)
  • The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire (2007)
  • The Transforming Vision: Explorations in Feminist The*logy (2011)
  • Changing Horizons: Explorations in Feminist Interpretation (2013)

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza". Encyclopedia of World Biography. 
  3. ^ Keller, Rosemary Skinner; Ruether, Rosemary Radford; Cantlon, Marie (2006). Encyclopedia of women and religion in North America 3. Indiana University Press. pp. 1104–1106. ISBN 0-253-34688-6. 
  4. ^ a b c Harvard Divinity School faculty page