Embodied spirits: comparing Sarah Coakley and John Paul II on issues of gender

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Theological Studies


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Jana Marguerite Bennett


I attempted to address the issue of gender fluidity and whether the concept is a feasible one for dealing with the issues of sexism and gender stereotypes in Christianity. I did this by primarily using Protestant feminist theologian Sarah Coakley, whose own work has managed to bring together the voices of early Church Fathers and secular feminists to discuss gender theory. Coakley employs a hermeneutics of charity to bring together these divergent voices and to discuss a concept of gender that is more fluid and potentially more empowering for men and women. I brought Sarah Coakley into dialogue with secular feminist Judith Butler, who views gender as being largely a social construct and who has greatly influenced feminism today. I also brought Sarah Coakley into discussion with traditional Christian concepts of gender as understood by the Catholic Church, particularly John Paul II, who's encyclical Mulieris Dignitatem has highly influenced the Catholic Church's beliefs on gender and the place of women.


Coakley, Sarah, 1951-, John Paul II, Pope, 1920-2005. Muleris Dignitatem, Sex role Religious aspects Christianity, Gender identity Religious aspects Christianity, Feminism Religious aspects Christianity, Gender; gender studies; religion; theology; feminism; theology; feminist theology; Sarah Coakley; John Paul II; gender; gender studies

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