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Women of the Bible

Kudos to the people at The Jesus Film Project for their latest release, Magdalena: Released from Shame. I have not yet seen the film, but according to a Christianity Today reviewer, Magdalena “combines footage from the original Jesus film with new material emphasizing Christ’s compassion for women.” Apparently the purpose of the new film is to deliver the essential message of the original film specifically to women, as well as to non-Western cultures in which “honor and shame are more powerful paradigms than guilt and innocence.” The Jesus Film Project website describes the film this way: One woman caught in the scandalous act of adultery; another, rejected and ignored because of her promiscuous... Read more
The other story of Mary and Martha – Martha an example of faith We often hear the wonderful story of Mary, how she choose to listen to Jesus’ teaching rather than do housework like her sister Martha, and how Jesus commends her for her choice. (Luke 10:38-41).  We see Mary as the one who is more mature in the faith and Martha as the one who is less.  But do we ever consider the other story of Mary and Martha?  In John 11, Mary and Martha’s dear brother Lazarus has just died.  Jesus goes to visit them.  In the midst of her grief, Martha greets Jesus with these words.     21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God... Read more
We hear about how God used Abraham to establish the nation of Israel through whom the Messiah would come, and we hear how Abraham’s faith helped accomplish this.  We also hear about Abraham’s faults, and how God accomplished His will through Abraham in spite of them.  But do you know that God used Sarah in the same way?  She also was used to establish the nation of Israel, and her faith was also instrumental in achieving this.  And like Abraham, God accomplished His will through Sarah in spite of her faults. Here is a brief overview of her life.  To learn more about her read Genesis 16 and 21. Today's New International Version Genesis 17:15-16 – Sarah is a woman who was unable to have children.  Yet God promises to give he... Read more
Many of you have heard the argument that there is no evidence in either Scripture or in church tradition that women served aspresbytera, or elders in the early church. Archaeological evidence of women leaders in the early church is available. In fact, according to scholars like Dorothy Irvin, the historical evidence of women leaders as presbyters, deacons, and priests appears abundant. The question is, why is it ignored? Unlike the biblical texts, some of which we know have been badly translated with when it concerned the leadership of women, it is much harder to obscure the evidence in beautiful mosaics, funerary inscriptions, and other such evidence carved into stone. Among these we find proof of women like Rufina, a second century president or elder in her synagogue outside... Read more
I grew up in patriarchal churches. I got used to hearing Scripture readings and having to internally translate “man” to “humanity” or “people;” to seeing women behind the piano but not the pulpit or conducting the children’s choir but not the adult musicians; to being allowed to ask public questions in my high school Sunday school class but then denied the same opportunity later when I became an adult. So when, a few years ago, all my searching and questioning finally produced a permanent shift to egalitarianism, the smallest acts of justice in the church were great sources of encouragement to me. At the time I was a member of a patriarchal but relatively supportive congregation, and when “liberal” forces within the congregation le... Read more
How many of us are in churches where we have been told that the time isn't right to consider the gender issue? Timing is everything, right? How many of us wonder when is the right time to model the example of women like Priscilla, who explained the way of the Lord to Apollos (Acts 18:6)? When is the right time to consider the examples of house church leaders like Lydia (Acts 16:14), Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11), the Elect Lady (2 John 1:1, 5), and Nympha (Colossians 4:15)? When should we notice Phoebe, who served the church in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), or Junia the female apostle (Romans 16:7)? What about the women who prophesied at Pentecost (Acts 2), or the women prophets in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:5), or Philip's prophesying daughters (Acts 21:9)? When is t... Read more
(Adapted from a paper given at the 2007 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society) My interest in women and missions of the 1800s is reinvigorated, of late, by a number of experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. When invited to speak for chapel services, I make an effort to learn something about the school, particularly the achievements of the founders and their graduates. In doing so, I have discovered the vast number of women alumni, who were also leaders on the mission field in the United States and abroad. And, they had the full support of the school’s founders. As I include these findings when I lecture, I am often surprised at the responses I receive… some of these Christian colleges appear almost emba... Read more
This past year I have decided to slowly read through the Gospels and pay special attention to the words that Jesus said and the life that he lived. Although I have been reading the Bible now for many years, I am amazed at the new things I am learning as I read, like, for instance, in the case of the woman who anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume. From sermons I’ve heard and from what I have read, my recollection of the story goes as follows: A woman of ill-repute came to Jesus and anointed him with expensive perfume, wiping his feet with her tears. Some of the disciples rebuked her, but Jesus said to leave her alone - that what she had done would be remembered for years to come. It always struck me that they didn’t mention her name. How would she be remembered? Rec... Read more
We hear a lot about God speaking to women through men. But, does God ever speak to men through women? Let’s look at the biblical record. ‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples:... Read more
The following article is a guest post submitted by Anita Bell, ordained pastor in the PCUSA Church. Rev. Bell offers the following reflections on her denomination in hopes that her critique would continue to call believers to solid scholarship surrounding the empowerment of women and men in ministry and encourage her denomination to clear and cohesive action as they strive to live out their statement of faith. Some of my friends are thinking about leaving our PCUSA fellowship for EPC pastures. They plan to go as a whole- men and women, lay and ordained. They offer to circle the wagon in this new denominational home, through non-geographic presbyteries, to protect and uphold their women called to ordained leadership. Yet, it is not hard to imagine the established EP... Read more

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