BEYOND A FEMINIST ‘HERMENEUTICS OF SUSPICION’: READING ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM’S COMMENTARIES ON MAN-WOMAN RELATIONS, MARRIAGE AND CONJUGAL ABUSE THROUGH THE ORTHODOX PHRONEMA

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Romina IstratiiAssociate Research Editor @ COS – 6/1/18 – SOAS JOURNAL OF POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH

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ABSTRACT
This paper aims to provide a summary of St John Chrysostom’s teachings on man-woman relations as pertinent to marriage and the conjugal relationship through the prism of the Orthodox phronema, defined here as the experience-based conscience of the Orthodox Church. The aim is to contribute toward better representation of non-western religio-cultural cosmologies within western academia and specifically within gender and theology/religion(s) studies. The employment of a western feminist analytical/hermeneutical lens in these disciplines has many merits, but it has tended toward transposing presuppositions that emanate from western experience with Christianity and context-specific forms of social sexism to non-western traditions. As a result, eastern traditions such as Orthodoxy have been presented in essentializing terms that do not generally reflect how these have been experienced within their indigenous epistemological frameworks. It is the argument of this paper that this insider’s conscience and the unique Orthodox cosmology need to be grasped by scholars of gender and theology/religion(s) who are only now beginning to be exposed to eastern Christian traditions. This cosmology informed approach can allow a deeper insight into gender and religious issues in these communities and can reveal that commentaries such as Chrysostom’s could serve to alleviate pernicious attitudes regarding women and marriage where these exist.

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About the Autor

Romina Istratii is a Dr. of History, Religions, and Philosophies, having recently completed successfully her Ph.D. at SOAS, University of London. Her  Ph.D. project was an interdisciplinary study of conjugal abuse realities and attitudes in the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo community of Aksum in Northern Ethiopia. The research combined anthropological methodologies with a theology-informed study to explore the interface of conjugal abuse with religious parameters and the prospects of alleviating the problem with reference to theological discourses and the clergy’s pastoral mediation.

Republished with permission from the Author.

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