'The way things truly are' : the methodology and relational ontology of Elizabeth A. Johnson
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This thesis seeks to examine and critique the transcendental feminist methodology and Trinitarian theology of Elizabeth A. Johnson. We will focus on four central, recurring themes that emerge out of her corpus, paying particular attention to how she assimilates these in She Who Is. They are: Johnson's feminist methodology and epistemology, her transcendental anthropology and epistemology, her panentheistic, relational ontology and her feminist 'Trinitarian' God-talk. The thesis will consist of four chapters, which will focus on these four main themes, and a conclusion. Chapter one will look specifically at the Johnson's modern, Catholic reformist feminist methodology and epistemology, which prioritise both the category of experience and the ontological principle of relation. The chapter will conclude with a brief summary of a few feminists who have defined their theological positions in direct opposition to Barth's view of Trinitarian revelation and language, and compare them to Johnson. Chapter Two will deal specifically with Johnson's embrace of Karl Rahner's transcendental metaphysics and her attempt to integrate this anthropology and ontological epistemology with feminist anthropology and epistemology. We will also highlight the various 'dilemmas of difference' Johnson faces in her use of conflicting appeals to experience. Chapter Three will analyse and critique her panentheistic, relational ontology with specific attention paid to her re-schematization of traditional Trinitarian theology and Christology. Barth's theology is used in part to critique Johnson's assertions at this point. In Chapter Four, we analyse Johnson's 'analogical' and 'symbolic' approach to God-talk to determine whether it is safeguarded from univocity, as she intends. We also raise-the question of whether she is kept from the potential equivocity that threatens her agnostic approach. In conclusion, we will summarise our response to the naturally emerging questions of the thesis, assess Johnson's approach overall and raise whatever questions we believe still remain.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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