Anne M. CLIFFORD. Introducing Feminist Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2001. pp. 287. $21.00 pb. ISBN 1-570-75238-9.
Reviewed by Gaile M. POHLHAUS, Villanova University, VILLANOVA, PA 19085

This book serves not only as an invaluable textbook; it is also a clear and readable introduction to feminist theology(ies). The six chapters, each about 40 pages long, include origins of feminist theology, biblical perspectives and scholars, systematic theology, ecclesiology, spirituality, and ecology. Each topic is discussed dispassionately and thoroughly. The reflection/ discussion questions included at the end of each chapter truly provoke both reflection and discussion. The areas suggested for further research are both interesting and accessible. The boxed biographies and descriptions of specialized terms and phrases engage the reader. Best of all there is both a real index (not just of names) and the most complete glossary of religious terms I have seen recently.

Some scholars might quibble about Clifford's dating of the three waves of feminism, especially scholars in different academic fields, but her use of United Nations documents to ground her dating gives an objective outside benchmark. Clifford acquaints her readers with a broad range of feminist theologians from diverse faith communities, especially those in the United States. She neither ducks nor derides divisive issues but presents all sides fairly, often quoting others to make clear various positions within feminism.

Her strongest chapters are "Feminist Perspectives on God" and "Feminist Perspectives on the Church." These chapters are divided into subdivisions. "Feminist Perspectives on God" discusses God language, Trinitarian concepts of God and notions of God from various ethnicities. "Feminist Perspectives on the Church" follows that pattern by examining worship and liturgy both from the points of view of various ethnicities and also various Christian churches. Interestingly my students when confronted with the image of the "Black Christ" in the reflection questions found it hard to swallow, whereas within the context of the chapter it didn't bother them.

The book lends itself to be used with primary sources because of the invaluable background it provides. I used it with the Paulist Series of the Madeleva lectures and the first volume of Villanova's Theology Institute Themes in Feminist Theology for the New Millennium (vol. 1) and it worked beautifully.

TO ORDER BOOKS: - Continuum - Crossroad - Eerdmans Publishing - Liturgical Press - Orbis Books