The ten female theologians you should know
Abya Yala is a continent with a diverse population. In the last five centuries, the native people and their descendants have inhabited sacred lands with migrants from Europe, Africa, and Asia. These unique experiences of merging and interacting cultures, languages, spirituality, and backgrounds have led to a unique theological voice reflecting emerging from Abya Yala.
Indeed, Abya Yala comes from the Guna language and means “land in full maturity.” Since the 1970s, activists, writers, and academic descendants of the native population have adopted Abya Yala as the unified name of the continent in resistance to colonization and marginalization.
As women, we have been doing theology from different realities and reflections that have profoundly impacted the field and theological discourse. However, if we reflect on well-known theologians or those studying theology read, we often draw a blank.
Women’s work in the theological and pastoral world is diverse and significantly contributes. However, it is often invisible by a patriarchal system focused on the contributions of male theologians and geographically focused on reflection from a more European, Anglo-Saxon, and white vision.This is profoundly disturbing!
This list of 10 female theologians aims to address this problem, reflecting the breadth of Christianity and filling the current gap of silence and knowledge.
Here are the ten female theologians you should know:
1.Sofía Chipana (Bolivia)
A prominent voice of indigenous theology in Abya Yala, she values dignified and sacred life with the earth and respect for all life forms in her writing. She has worked with networks dedicated to theological reflection and articulating knowledge, wisdom, and spiritualities. She is a member of the Community of Indigenous Theologians of Abya Yala and the Andean Theological Community that fosters dialogue between the Andean peoples.
Quotables:“In the contexts of colonized peoples of Abya Yala, the Bible has been used as a colonizing instrument to alienate our identities, subjugate our territories and confine us to live as foreigners in our own lands.”
Publications: “Today’s tools for exegesis and hermeneutics” and “Apocalyptic: Stories for the recreation of life.”
2.Luzmila Quezada (Peru)
Luzmila has work has focused on the role of women in faith communities. She has a doctorate in History and Theology and has devoted herself to teaching Systematic Theology, Feminist Theology, and Gender. In addition to her academic work, Luzmila is an ordained pastor of the Wesleyan Church and coordinator of the feminist theologians of Peru.
Quotables: “Women’s doing theology results from a critical reflection that challenges traditional theology. It is a theology that starts from everyday life in response, overcoming all forms of marginalization, exclusion.”
Publications: “Re-appropriating our lives, bodies, and sexualities. Methodological guide” ,”Fundamentalisms and Sexuality. Gender and Religion. Pluralisms and religious dissidents.”, “Christian women, social mobility and citizenship.”
3.Ivonne Gebara (Brazil)
Ivonne works from Brazil and presents eco-feminism connecting the exploitation of nature with the oppression experienced by peasant women, who have been exploited and dominated just like mother earth. Women have been relegated to being reproductive sources in the service of a patriarchal, hierarchical system. In her work, she denounces violence against nature and connects the natural world and its ideological, anthropological, and mythical relationship with women.
Quotables: “For men, evil is an act one can undo. But for women, evil is in their very being.”
Publications: “Women healing the earth: ecology, feminism and religion, according to Third World women,” “The thirst for meaning. Ecofeminist searches in poetic prose” and “ecofeminist theology” among others.
4.Maricel Mena (Colombia)
Maricel is a theologian, biblical scholar, and researcher. She specializes in contextual theology, feminist black biblical hermeneutics, and gender, and currently works at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology at Saint Thomas University and investigates other religions, comparative religion, and Abrahamic religions.
Quotables:“The feminist black biblical hermeneutics rescues the black woman from the role of poor, maid, and slave, a role invented by the scholars who formed the socio-religious imaginary and places her as the protagonist of a story of struggle and resistance.”
Publications: “Latin American Biblical Panorama, “Spirituality, Justice, and Hope from Afro-American and Caribbean Theologies,” “A Question of Skin: From Hegemonic Wisdoms to Emerging Wisdoms,” among others.
5.Carolina Bacher Martinez (Argentina)
Carolina is a doctor of theology and professor of Pastoral Theology. Her work and contribution are to participatory action research through the theology of the signs of the times. She is a member of the Church, Society, and State Group in Argentina and the Urban Theology Group “Spirituality Practices” of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. She is vice president of the Argentine Society of Theology SAT.
Quotables: “Each one of us deserves to know, learn from our itinerary, and continue our work, renewed by the encounter.”
Publications: “He talks to us on the road. Preliminary considerations regarding the subject, objective and method of a pastoral theology.”
6.Elsa Tamez (Mexico)
Elsa has a doctorate in Theology from the University of Lausanne. She is an emeritus professor at the Latin American Biblical University in San José, Costa Rica. She specializes in Bible with a feminist perspective, and contextual biblical critiques brought new perspectives to these fields of study.
Quotables: “God remains silent so that men and women may speak, protest, and struggle. God remains silent so that people may really become people. When God is silent and men and women cry, God cries in solidarity with them but doesn’t intervene. God waits for the shouts of protest.”
Publications: “The Bible of the oppressed,” “The amnesty of grace,” and “Struggles for power in early Christianity: a study of the first letter of Timothy,” among others.
7.Agustina Luvis (Puerto Rico)
Agustina has a long history of theological studies with a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Her work includes Pentecostal and feminist theologies. She writes about women and their pastoral work. Agustina is currently Dean of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.
Quotables: “Language is never neutral. Our language can give life and can cause death. To use the term “illegals” to refer to undocumented people is a tactic that influences the debate on immigration and feeds hatred and violence.”
Publications: “Sex in the Church” and “Created in her image: A comprehensive pastoral for women.”
8.Emilie M. Townes (United States)
She has been a pioneer in Womanist theology, a field of study in which the historical and current ideas of Afro-descendant women in the United States are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology. Emilie has a keen interest in thinking critically about Women’s perspectives on topics such as health care, economic justice, and literary theory.
True to her academic work, she continues her research on women and health in the African diaspora in Brazil and the United States.
Quotables: “Ethics and theology are intimate dance partners — theology helps me think through how I experience God; ethics helps me think through how I must respond to this experience and also act on it.”
Publications: “Feminist theological ethics,” “Womanist ethics and the cultural production of evil,” among others.
9.Geraldina Céspedes (Dominican Republic)
Geraldina is a religious of the Congregation of Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary. She has a doctorate in Systematic Theology. Her missionary and theological career have passed in various communities.
Geraldine writes about the dehumanizing treatment in which people are objects of consumption and in the face of pseudo spiritualities of prosperity and “happiness.” Her work confronts the abuse of women’s time and their corporeity. Women are consumed, and only their profitability is sought for the market and patriarchy.
Quotables: “Ecofeminism precisely seeks to place other epistemological, philosophical and cosmological bases that allow the construction of another vision of nature, of the human being and of God.”
Publications: “Eco feminism Theology healthy for the earth and its inhabitants,” “The theologies of liberation before the market and patriarchy.”
10.Ada Isasi-Díaz (Cuba)
Ada theological work revolved around the concept of exile and the experience of being an immigrant in the United States, where she criticizes the sexism and violence of the Hispanic culture, inherited from a colonizing and violent process on the continent. Ada wrote from every day, in the daily experience of life, as an epistemological framework in her reflection and writing.
Quotables: “To name oneself is one of the most powerful acts any person can do.”
Publications: “Womanist Theology,” “In the Struggle,” “The Continual Struggle”
These ten women theologians of Abya Yala are a source of inspiration and reflection with a perspective more focused on the equity and value of women, safeguarding their identity, and redefining their correct position in the world. Women immersed in the world of theology use their work to impact their congregations and the entire continent.
I invite you to read more about the theological work carried out in Abya Yala. In this way, we can promote the interest of more women to enter this vast, necessary and urgent field of reflection.
Psychologist and Public Theologian. She is ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church USA. Director of Publica Theology and convener of Mujeres Doing Theology, International. She writes about the intersections between ancestral memory, diversity, gender and faith in the public square.