Many contemporary evangelical Bible scholars and theologians, not to mention ordinary lay men and women, are convinced that attempts to use the Bible so as to exclude women from positions of leadership for which their Creator has made them and to which their Lord as called them – whether in society, home or church – is flawed.
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.
There are many models of ministry. Women are as diverse as men in the patterns of ministry they follow. But let's look at the response of this one woman to Jesus to learn more about the place of women in ministry.
Was Priscilla one of the most successful teachers, evangelists, and writers in the early church? A survey of Priscilla’s ministry in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus reveals a woman whose abilities and life’s circumstances beg the question: Was it Priscilla who wrote Hebrews?
It was a desperate ploy. If it failed she would be, at best, a social pariah; at worst, burned alive. Probably few of us, either women or men, would be able to summon up the kind of courage Tamar showed when, realizing that the system was failing to give her justice, she decided to do something about it. She used womanly wiles, but not in ways we usually associate with the term.
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.
In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, God’s infinite wisdom is personified as a woman. The association of divine wisdom with the feminine is not accidental. Social relationships in Israel reflected spiritual relationships between Israel and Yahweh. As a result of this basic analogy between the earthly realm and the heavenly realm, one can look to the feminine images of Hebrew scriptures to better understand personified wisdom.
A picture of a certain woman appears on three of the pages. A closer look reveals that in each of these three encounters between Jesus and this woman, she is at his feet. In two of the pictures, people are angry with her—but not Jesus. In only one photo is she speaking, and that through tears.