Welcome to CBE’s Library

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The Bible sets forth an ideal and calls the ideal woman an eshet-chayil, which is the Hebrew for a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or a “wife of noble character” (NIV). This Hebrew expression occurs only three times in the Old Testament, but a study of these three passages is likely to reveal what the Bible supports as an ideal of Christian womanhood.

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These two best-sellers helped turn many apolitical women into activists, and contributed to recent impressive female gains in both the United Stales Senate and the House of Representatives. My question is: How should biblical egalitarians respond to these two works? Answers may not be as obvious as some think.

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Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....”

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Proverbs depicts the reality of its day, but provides moral principles in the context of that reality that actually challenge many of its society’s ideals. Yet both the society and moral principles depicted in Proverbs provide an interesting contrast to many cultures before and after them.

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The best example of a woman in leadership over Israel is Deborah, one of the judges, all of whom were responsible for keeping the Promised Land free of foreign domination. Judges 4 is the prose account of Israel’s victory over the Canaanites from Hazor. Judges 5 is the “Song of Deborah” which tells the same story in poetic form.

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The scandal of the evangelical mind, Mark Noll tells us, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." The reasons he lists for this are many, and include evangelical over-emphasis on the emotionally-charged experience of conversion, an overly-populist approach to evangelism, a preoccupation with personal sanctification to the exclusion of concern for creation, for society, and for the institutions represented therein, and a fortress mentality left over from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century.

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One of the most hotly contested passages in the New Testament these days is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The cultural reason for this is clear: The ordination of women in the Church is a major issue of debate among traditional and evangelical denominations. Biblically-minded Christians are rightly concerned about the meaning of this passage for ministry today. And, in response to that concern, a large number of scholars have written articles, commentaries and now even entire books on these few verses.

 

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There is a considerable lack of clarity at both the popular and scholarly levels about exactly what evangelical feminists stand for vis à vis the standard platforms of conservative Protestantism on the one hand, and secular feminism on the other.

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So important are women in the Bible that Proverbs, the Book of God’s wisdom, ends with a celebration of what a faithful reverent woman should look like: Proverbs 31:1-31.

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King-James-Only advocates have taken a personal preference, elevated it to a theological absolute, and used it to divide liberals from conservatives, believers from unbelievers, servants of God from minions of Satan. Critics of inclusive language in Bible translation are doing the very same thing with their reckless, blanket denunciations of the TNIV.

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