In this unit we ask three key questions: ‘How has Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, been understood in various Christian communities? What is the significance of devotion to Mary for feminist theologies? How do feminist perspectives refresh, inform and refract the figure of Mary?’ This unit proceeds in two steps: first, to introduce a range of marian doctrine and devotion from different contexts over time; second, to consider contemporary feminist theological engagement with marian theology and spirituality. Some writers are Roman Catholic; some are Protestant; others are post-Christian; most are so-called “first world” European or North American, others are Latinx (and more voices from other cultures are also represented in the readings). Some define their work as liberationist or queer, but all identify as feminist—though given their contexts and convictions, they mean somewhat different things by this, in terms of catholicity, protest, reform and other theological dynamics.

Unit code: CH3101P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate key traditions concerning Mary, including formal doctrines defined by Rome in 1854 and 1950, in dialogue with Christology, and with various Protestant, and salient feminist perspectives


Relate, distinguish and critically discuss a range of contemporary feminist theologians, and their present and antecedent interlocutors both within and beyond self-designated feminist horizons


Account for difference and both locate and engage a range of religious convictions about the figure of Mary the mother of Jesus in Christian (and other) theology, liturgy, and devotion


Lecture, guided reading, seminar, with attention to art and music as well as texts of various (notably theological, liturgical) kinds

Indicative Bibliography

  • Baker, Robert, and Barbara Budde, eds. A Sourcebook About Mary. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 2002.
  • Beattie, Tina. God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women’s Salvation. London: Continuum, 2002.
  • Boss, Sarah Jane. Mary. London: Continuum, 2003.
  • Gaventa, Beverly Roberts. Mary: Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus. Columbia, SC: USC, 1995.
  • Gaventa, Beverly Roberts, and Cynthia Rigby, eds. Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
  • Gebara, Ivone, and Maria Clara Bingemer. *Mary: Mother of God, Mother of the Poor Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1997.
  • Johnson, Elizabeth. Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints*. London: Continuum, 2003.
  • Levine, Amy-Jill, ed. A Feminist Companion to Mariology. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2005.
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. Mary Through the Centuries Her Place in the History of Culture. Urbana, OH: University of Illinois Press, 2002.
  • Tavard, George H. The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary. Collegeville, PA: Liturgical Press, 1996.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)


0 50.0


0 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 14 Oct, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-22 14:01:18 +1100