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An unfortunate history of misinterpretation and abuse has surrounded 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. It has been taken out of context and used to suppress women’s involvement in the ministry of the church. The egalitarian interpretation, however, finally perceives this verse, not as a tool of oppression, but as one with a helpful cross-cultural message. 

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Within the Episcopal, PCUSA, and other mainline churches, there has been for years a diversity of views of the Christian faith. For most of this century, the leadership, seminaries, and many members have held to liberal views of Christianity, including a Bible which is not inerrant (i.e., without errors), as well as views of God, Jesus, salvation, etc. which are significantly different from the historic orthodox position.

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Amid the patriarchy of the ancient world, early Christianity had a particularly liberating and redemptive place for women, one significant enough to be mentioned by Christianity’s first major critic, the second-century philosopher Celsus.

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The four-volume Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity (DDL) provides a well-rounded overview of life not only across time periods but also across the several cultures of the biblical world. 

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Martin provides us with an historical context for the issue of women's roles in the church. She begins by tracing the patterns of male authority in both Old and New Testaments. She also describe some of the more contemporary views on submission of women, and continues with a chapter on how we have actually made God in our image, especially our sexual image.

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Augustine's view of women had a profound effect on the developing Christian church. However, any critical discussion of Augustine's attitude toward women as derived from his discursive texts must take into account the nature of his philosophical and social milieu, and its predominant view of women.

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For today’s “traditionalists,” 1 Timothy 2 mandates the subordination of women to men in the church because the headship/submission principle is grounded in the created order, an order that Christianity redeems, but does not alter. Today’s traditionalists/male hierarchists also claim to be upholding the historic interpretation of this passage. New research on early Protestant beliefs concerning natural law and the spiritual and civil kingdoms, however, brings their claim into serious question. 

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After languishing in obscurity for many years, the work of Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) has been rediscovered by church historians and scholars. Palmer was a widely-recognized religious figure in her day—a woman whose concern for the holy life enabled her to transcend the limitations of both gender and denominational affiliation. 

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In 1994, 10 percent of Rwanda’s population was slaughtered in a mass genocide over a period of 100 days. In the aftermath, Rwandans struggled to secure food and water, find loved ones, and rebuild a sense of security. Into this chaos stepped the women of Rwanda, who defied tradition to take on leadership roles and recovery efforts while dealing with individual and collective trauma and grief. 

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Women As Global Leaders outlines the gaps in current research and points us in a clear direction for future study and consideration. While not overtly religious, this resource is a challenge to CBE readers to take equality to the next level and to consider what true leadership can look like, regardless of gender, on the international stage.

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