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One famous woman who requires explanation from those who do not believe women should occupy the highest levels of leadership is Junia, “outstanding among the apostles.” 

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The truth is, women have always been leaders and exemplars of the faith, and Scripture praises them for it. Let’s do all we can to make sure that one day, every Bible translation celebrates that reality.

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It was not by choice, but by calling, that I found myself a Proverbs 31 man.

 

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Romans 16:7 presents two interpretive issues. Was the person named Iounian a man or a woman and was Iounian counted as “highly regarded among the apostles” or only “highly regarded by the apostles”?

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Was the Junia mentioned in Romans 16:7 a man or a woman? The Greek word Iounian has been translated either as “Junias” (male) or as “Junia” (female). And what is the meaning of “outstanding among the apostles”? 

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How many times have you gone to a women’s Bible study on Proverbs 31? It seems that discussions on this passage usually turn to how to be a good wife, mother, and house cleaner. 

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Over the past forty years, the remarkable presence of women in Prov 1–9 has drawn an equally remarkable number of studies, a gift from the rise of feminism and women in the academy. The combination of these two forces brings attention to the once invisible women in the text, figures generally overlooked or ignored as males have read and interpreted the text for other males. Now, however, the text again gives birth to these marginalized figures, providing them with bodies, eyes, ears, hands, feet, and especially, mouths for speech. Of 256 verses in Prov 1–9, 132 specifically mention or speak about women and another seventeen verses either introduce these texts or draw conclusions from them; hence fifty-eight percent of Prov 1–9. Yet, ironically, all this attention to women comes because of the writer’s interest and concern for young men (1:4), with a secondary appeal to older, wise men (1:5). For the sages, it would seem that the way to a man’s heart is not through food, but through women. After all, the author seems to assume, what better way to engage the attention of a young man than by speaking about or describing women?

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If we want to see women free, we have to challenge the message that passivity is godly. We have to encourage women to boldly exercise their God-given authority. We must image Bible women who took direct action to further God’s vision for the world.

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Digging deeper into Prov 31:10–31 in context reveals it was never intended to be a how-to manual for becoming the perfect woman. In the context of Proverbs, this passage is the parting mnemonic incentivizing young men to pursue wisdom and marry wisely.

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Oral tradition is important for an egalitarian understanding of the Bible—its origins, development, nature, and relevance—because women were among the key players in this stage of the Bible’s development.

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