The Beguines were a Christian ministry originating among the women of the laity outside of those who took monastic vows and entered convents. The “Beguines” gained their identity from a Belgic root-word—beg—meaning to mumble or to speak without clarity. This term was used disparagingly by highly privileged men who were jealous of women who were able to live independently economically and hold positions of privilege. The Beguines represented a broad spectrum of women of differing backgrounds who gave their lives and means to help the destitute, the ill, the downtrodden, and the homeless. Laura Swan’s history of the Beguines is the first good complete treatment of the Beguines that this reviewer has ever seen.
In Threads of Wisdom, Caroline Mendez responds to a vacuum that exists for Christian women in business. There is little opportunity for them to engage with other Christian businesswomen about how to use their God-given abilities in the workplace while at the same time giving expression to their faith.
Women in the Church is a dangerous book which should not have been published because, while it appears to be scholarly, it actually teems with historical and theological errors and also emotional subjectivity. Alan G. Padgett has provided a critical rebuttal to Women in the Church in the Winter 1997 issue of Priscilla Papers. I refer readers to his technical refutation of the key themes of Women in the Church. I will highlight other problems with the book and critique its basic tone.
Gary Hoag revisits the topic of wealth in the letter of 1 Timothy, asking whether the teachings found there are consistent or inconsistent with other teachings in the NT, or whether it might be a mixture of the two. Scholars are divided on this question. Hoag’s findings rest on cross-referencing the terms in 1 Timothy with a novel, Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus. This novel was originally thought to have been written in the 2nd or 3rd century CE, but having been recently codified as an ancient Greek novel of the mid-first century CE, we now know that it was written at the same time as Paul’s ministry as portrayed by Luke in Acts. It’s a valuable source in shedding light on the social setting or Sitz im Leben of the letter, and Hoag studies in particular five passages: 1 Tim 2:9-15; 3:1-13; 6:1-2a; 6:2b-10; 6:17-19.
In his book Gender Rolitis: Redeem Unhealthy Gender Roles, Kirk E. Farnsworth uses scripture to examine the dangers of gender-based hierarchy and explores the merits of gifts-based partnership. Included are resources for identifiying spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, traits, and life experiences which might be used to identify and pursue one's calling.
Paula Gooder presents an imaginative telling of the life and ministry of Phoebe. She states that her purpose in writing this story is not simply to provide an entertaining novel, but also to inform readers of the reality behind the NT text.
Anatomy of a Schism is unlike any other book about a church split. Most narratives of a split revolve around a theological or moral interpretation that becomes so difficult to walk together in that the only logical conclusion is to walk apart. What’s often lost in these narratives is the individual stories of people who experienced and dialoged about the schism as it was happening. In many instances, we can watch a news segment about a church split which may give an overview of what happened and inform the viewer that the once unified congregation will now be meeting in part at the park district and in part at the library. Rarely, do you hear the news anchor inform their audience about how the schism affected nine year-old Susan or ten year-old Jack.