A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF CONTEXTUAL CHALLENGES IN KERALA, INDIA
JESSY JAISON B B S., M Div., M Th.
Thesis for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph D)
The Faculty of Humanities (Institute of Theology)
The Queen’s University of Belfast
QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY BELFAST
DECLARATION FORM FOR
SUBMISSION OF HIGHER DEGREE BY RESEARCH
I declare that
The thesis is not one for which a degree has been or will be conferred by any other university or institution;
The thesis is not one for which a degree has already been conferred by this University;
The work for the thesis is my own work and that, where material submitted by me for another degree or work undertaken by me as part of a research group has been incorporated into the thesis, the extent of the work thus incorporated has been clearly indicated.
The composition of the thesis is my own work.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST TO THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIAN Please complete and/or delete as appropriate. I give permission for my thesis entitled: WOMEN TRAINING IN PROTESTANT THEOLOGICAL INSTITUTIONS: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF CONTEXTUAL CHALLENGES IN KERALA, INDIA.
to be made available (a) forthwith
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Name JESSY JAISON Home Address:
NEW INDIA BIBLE SEMINARY,
PIN CODE 686 537, INDIA Signature of Candidate:
Date ……………………... 2008
NB Authors of theses should note that giving this permission does not in anyway prejudice their rights. To be complete by Internal Examiner CERTIFICATION OF ACCEPTED THESIS I hereby certify that this is the accepted copy of the thesis (and attached data, where appropriate) which is to be placed in the University Library.
Internal Examiner: ……………………
ABSTRACT While liberationist perspectives in feminism have galvanized much attention in theological education in the past 20-30 years around the world, Kerala, India stands as a ‘different case’ with its inherited cultural biases. Theological seminaries in Kerala default to an unhealthy hierarchical attitude and structure in spite of the influx of women in seminaries and the remarkable educational development of women in society at large. This study investigates the cultural and ecclesiastical challenges of women students and attempts to make a hermeneutical inquiry into the theological and cultural issues involved. Having incorporated the relevant methodological contributions of feminist scholarship, the research followed a practical theological approach based on a social scientific methodology in which diverse constituencies in seminaries provided the data.
The research identified hidden cultural and theological factors that reinforced the marginalisation of women and that resulted in most women students having only very low expectations. It demonstrated that seminaries in Kerala not only failed to be cohesive and cogent in corresponding to the experiences and aspirations of and limitations put upon women, but also lacked both a theological vision and the openness to see the decisive role of theology in advocating transformation. The study proposes a theological-cultural hermeneutical equilibrium as exemplified in the Scripture and grounded in practical theology. The transformational mission of seminaries, however, should be gradual rather than abrupt, in order to prevent chaos and a further alienation of the women constituency while at the same time facilitating sustainable organizational learning. Theological education should hence become a transformative discursive praxis that critically reviews the contextual struggles of students. Despite the geographical limitation of the research, this thesis will have an extensive utility in similar contexts in Asia and elsewhere not only to theological schools but also to course designers, accrediting agencies and policy makers.
Dr. Graham Cheesman, the Director of the Centre for Theological Education in Belfast Bible College (BBC) and my principal supervisor, for his exceptional sense of commitment as a theological educator and the sincere academic support extended to me all through the research.
Dr. David Emmanuel Singh (Oxford Centre for Mission Studies), the external examiner of this thesis, for his professional analysis and commendation on this work.
Dr. Myrtle Hill (School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work- Gender Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB), the internal examiner, for her proficient analysis of the methodology and recognition of the cross-disciplinary approach and contributions of this research.
Professor Hugh Magennis, the Director of the Institute of Theology at QUB for his commendable support during all the major academic events related to this research and Ms. Kim Mahon, the Secretary for Theology for her selfless assistance in every formal procedure of the course.
Dr. James McKeown (my second supervisor), Dr. David Shepherd (Principal, BBC), Dr. Robert Keay (the Senior Advisor of Studies for Theology at QUB) and all the academic and administrative staff in Belfast Bible College for their unreserved support for this research.
Dr. Brian Marshall (Oxford Brookes University), Dr. Heather Morris (Edgehill College, Belfast), Dr. Karen Trew (School of Psychology, Queens University), Dr. Clifford Stevenson (Irish Studies, Queens University) for sharing their academic expertise at various stages of my research, especially for the empirical research design.
Dr. V J Samkutty (All Nations Christian College), and Dr. Sharon Heron (my colleague and friend) for their academic reflections on my work.
All my students in India, especially at the New India Bible Seminary, Kerala for inspiring me to learn more closely on people’s cultural struggles
The Principals, Deans and students in all the sample institutions and the theologically trained women for their sincere cooperation in the gathering of empirical data.
Dr. Siga Arles, the Director of Indian Institute of Missiology, for his invaluable suggestions.
The library staff at- the Belfast Bible College and Queen’s University. In India- The United Theological College, South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Gospel for Asia Biblical Seminary and Faith Theological Seminary.
Belfast Bible College for funding my stay and research.