Feminist Christology and Womanist Response. – book review

Essence, Oct, 1990 by Paula Giddings

JACQUELYN GRANT Black women’s Jesus: `cosufferer, liberator’

When South Carolinian Jacquelyn Grant, author of White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (Scholar’s Press, paper, $21.95), was attending Bennett College during the 1960’s, she, like many of her peers, was searching for relevancy. “I was a French major and music minor,” she recalls, “and I was trying to figure out what I would do when I graduated. Would I write about the French-speaking Negritude poets, or be a translator at the United Nations?” But by her junior year, a sense of peace had come over her, because she had been called. She became an ordained minister in the A.M.E. Church, the first among three of her siblings who (like their father) are also ordained.

Grant, who is currently teaching at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in systematic theology – a discipline that seeks the meaning of being a Christian and how that belief system is lived in a contemporary context. As the title of her most recent book suggests, Grant is interested in the contrast between Black and white women’s interpretations of Jesus Christ – a contrast that seems at the heart of other differences.

“White women tend much more to see Him as a Christ, or master, while Black women base their understanding of humanity upon the idea of Jesus – the cosufferer and liberator,” she says. “Black women have been able to experience a Jesus of history who also challenges them to move toward liberation from the social and political structures of domination,” Grant adds.

She said she decided to write this book because of her concern with women’s issues in the church and in the larger society. “As a woman who felt called to the ministry, I was particularly concerned about the obstacles that prevented women from maximizing their potential in the church – and especially in the leadership of the church,” she says. “It became clear that one of the oppressive tools used against women in the church was and still is Jesus Christ. But I was simultaneously concerned about the differences in the experiences of white women and Black women.”