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Title page for ETD etd-03292008-214258

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Belcher, Jodi Lynn
URN etd-03292008-214258
Title Subversion through subjection: a feminist reconsideration of kenosis in Christology and Christian discipleship
Degree Master of Arts
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ellen Armour Committee Chair
Paul DeHart Committee Member
  • subjectivity
  • power
  • Mark
  • Philippians
  • Sarah Coakley
  • Judith Butler
  • feminism
  • identity
  • interpellation
Date of Defense 2008-03-31
Availability unrestricted
This paper offers a reformulation of Christological kenosis and its implications for Christian discipleship in light of the confusion surrounding “self-emptying” language and the painful ramifications of its prescription in Christianity, particularly for women. The central thesis claims that understanding kenosis in terms of subjection not only subverts the traditional, simplistic construal of self-emptying as loss of self, but also provides a recapitulation of kenosis as a transformative and empowering re-identification in God that feminist theology can plausibly engage and affirm.

To develop this argument, the paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach, initially giving a constructive critique of Sarah Coakley’s conception of Christ’s kenosis as the concurrence of divine power and human vulnerability. This evaluation of Coakley is then supplemented with Judith Butler’s philosophical account of power and subject formation in the process of subjection. The argument concludes by examining the various dimensions of the kenotic language in Philippians 2 and Mark 8:22-10:52, in order to propose, finally, a contemporary retrieval of kenosis as subversive subjection.

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