Grace Jantzen

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Grace Marion Jantzen (24 May 1948 – 2 May 2006) was a feminist philosopher and theologian. She was professor of religion, culture and gender at Manchester University from 1996 until her death from cancer at the age of 57.[1]

Arguably, her most famous work is Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion. In this book, Grace Jantzen proposes a new philosophy of religion from a feminist perspective. She also authored works on Christian mysticism and the foundations of modernity. Her approach was influenced by Continental scholarship, particularly that of Foucault.[2][3]

In her final publication, Foundations of Violence, Jantzen, sketches the fascination with death and violence -- what she calls a 'necrophilia' -- that she believes has characterized much of Western culture from classical antiquity through Christianity to present paradigms. In Jantzen's view, this emphasis on violence and death comes at the expense of the physical body in the present (a denigration of the senses, sexuality and sensuality), and thus, establishes a yearning for mystical worlds beyond the here and now.[4]

Jantzen further argues that this fixation on violence and death is gendered, a largely masculinist symbolic construct that seeks to both repress and veil an anxiety of the maternal body and of female sexuality. Jantzen calls for philosophers and theologians to refuse this obsession with death and destruction and instead focus on forces of ‘natality’ (via a feminine symbolic) that celebrates beauty, desire and the creative impulse.

Select bibliography[edit]

  • God's World, God's Body (1984)
  • Julian of Norwich: Mystic and Theologian (1987)
  • Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism (1995)
  • Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion (1998)
  • Foundations of Violence (2004)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Grace Jantzen, Academic 1948-2006". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 17 March 2009. 
  2. ^ Carrette, Jeremy (2006-05-11). "Grace Jantzen". Obituary (London: Guardian Unlimited). Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  3. ^ "Grace Jantzen (1948 - 2006)" (PDF). Feminist Theology 15 (1): 121–123. 2006. doi:10.1177/0966735006071131. 
  4. ^ Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, "Death, Feminist Views of" by Kathleen O'Grady. Daniel Patte, Editor. 2010.