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Biblical and Theological Studies

There are so many great posts around the web proclaiming biblical equality. Here are some we noticed: 5 Ways Married Men Can Act Like Adults Around Women (Single or Not), by Luke Harms (Living the Tension) It is possible to maintain eye contact without being skeezy. If you lack the self-control to do so, it’s because you sir, are a creeper. But what’s more, you have so devalued women in your own mind that they don’t exist outside of the parts of their body that you find attractive. The Many Female Followers of Jesus, by Marg Mowczko (The Junia Project) Many women were dedicated followers of Jesus during his ministry on earth.  Many of these women seem to have been independent of fathers and husbands, and some were independently wealthy.... Read more
This is an excerpt from Aída Besançon Spencer's talk on "El Silencio, las Mujeres y la Iglesia" ("Silence, Women and the Church") given at the CBE meeting in Colombia. Some basic aspects of Bible interpretation are: Look at its literary context: the written context of the whole letter/book. Look at the historical/cultural context: the situation of the writer and the situation of the readers then. Let's apply these two crucial principles of interpretation to 1 Corinthians 14. What we learn from 1 Corinthians is that sometimes good actions that we are free to do can keep us from doing the first two words of chapter 14: "pursue love." Love is more important than our freedom in Christ. We have to work on our... Read more
This month marks the 27th anniversary of the famous "Tear Down this Wall" speech. "Tear down this wall!" was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall. Reagan said. “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. General Secretary Gorbachev … tear down this wall!”He continued, “Across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom." [1] Similar to other epochal times in church history, (E.g. the Protestant Reformation and th... Read more
It seems as though the topic of divine gender is spawning a great deal of conversation and debate these days. Amidst all the opinions, the calm observations and the fiery rhetoric there’s been a great deal of labeling going on. The word ‘heretic’ has been thrust about with overzealous piety and an antagonistic agenda that merely seeks to scapegoat its targets by slinging its opinion across social media. There is certainly no neighborly love intrinsic within such an agenda. Perhaps worse still is the manner in which certain church leaders, with public pretention, say such things as, ‘I hope and pray you turn from your unbiblical path.’ And what is that ‘unbiblical’ path? What is this outlandish heresy? Well, to refer to God as female, of c... Read more
The last half of Philip B. Payne’s book Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters begins an exegesis of Paul’s later writings in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Timothy and deals with some of the most contentious passages dividing the Church over the role of women. Chapter 15 “Ephesians 5:21-33 and Colossians 3:18-19: Husband-Wife Relationships” focuses upon the text of Ephesians, though Payne shows that the parallel expressions in both of these passages indicate they are addressing the same issues. Thus, whatever bears upon the one passage must bear upon the other. Payne chooses to deal primarily with the longer passage of Ephesians. After noting differences between family life in Paul’s day with th... Read more
In the passage below, what is Jesus doing? What is the purpose of his engagement with the Canaanite woman?  21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” 23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Ye... Read more
Lenten season is a time of soul-searching, of repentance and of preparation for the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday. And at this time, in 2014, as I and other Christians are going through assorted personal difficulties and struggles,not to mention the crises occurring in the Middle East and Ukraine, I have found myself pondering afresh as to just what difference does the resurrection of Christ make for us and the world? And does it make any difference to our mission in the world for the Lord? Does the resurrection really make any difference when reconciliation—among the nations, among the church, between genders—seems so impossible? Well, truly and literally, it does make all the difference in the world, despite current appearances. For Christ Jesus... Read more
Do you remember the stories of Jesus preaching in towns and villages and teaching in the synagogues? In healing the ill and in proclaiming good news, Christ was deeply moved by the crowds who were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. What was Jesus’ response to their need? He told us to pray that God would send out more workers, for "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!" (Matthew 9:37, NRSV). We know of many workers, gifted by the Holy Spirit, holy and ready to serve in the harvest. What’s more, they recognize that they are called to the harvest. And yet, many are told “No, you may not serve in that way, because you are a woman.” This is why I am writing to you. CBE has an opportunity to influence thousands of s... Read more
In a recent blog at, The CBE Scroll’s own Margaret Mowczko has written a piece titled, “Blaming Eve Alone,” in which she summarizes an article by Julie Faith Parker (“Blaming Eve Alone: Translation, Omission, and Implications of עמה in Genesis 3:6b,”Journal of Biblical Literature, winter 2013; see here). I found Margaret’s blog especially interesting and helpful, and I’ve therefore chosen to build on it here. Genesis 3:6 is quite clear that Adam was with Eve when the serpent confronted her and that the two of them ate the forbidden fruit together: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable... Read more
Many readers of The CBE Scroll will be familiar with the tendency of some modern English Bible translations to render the Greek word “brothers” (adelphoí) as “brothers and sisters,” “believers,” or something similar. Consider, for example, Romans 16:17, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions…” (NIV 2011). This tendency became mainstream in 1989 with the publication of the New Revised Standard Version. The tendency has continued, for example, in the New Living Translation (1996), the Common English Bible (2010), and the most recent revision of the New International Version (2011). The tendency is also evident in nearly 140 footnotes in the English Standard Version (2001). This preference... Read more