The theme of this issue of Priscilla Papers is Character Sketches. Each article gives insight into one or more Bible characters.
Tyler Allred shares with us his careful and insightful reading of Philippians 4:2–3, which begins, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (NIV). Tyler argues that Euodia and Syntyche are church leaders whom Paul addresses, “not because of an existing quarrel, but because the unity mindset is so important to the continued advancement of the mission of God” in Philippi.
Next, David Malick writes about the poor widow who gave two small coins in the temple, as recorded in Mark 12:41–44. David analyzes this account as artful storytelling and shows that “this unnamed woman—whom Jesus witnesses giving an offering in the temple—encapsulates the self-giving life of Christ and foreshadows the lives of all Christians who follow Jesus well.”
Elizabeth Willett explains the ability of the Hebrew language, unlike the English language, to express certain words as grammatically feminine. She gives various examples where retaining feminine expressions in English and other languages is important in the crafting of a vivid and precise Bible translation. While most of the character sketches throughout this issue of Priscilla Papers, including some in this article, are of real historical women, Elizabeth also helps us better understand symbolic women, such as Daughter Zion and Woman Wisdom.
Josiah Callaghan sketches Sarah, focusing on Genesis 17:15–16, where her name is changed. Here, God’s covenant is expressed in a way that focuses as much on Sarah as on Abraham. Josiah concludes that this story “invades our worldview and reminds us that God sought out covenant partners—both male and female—to bring blessings to all the nations.”
In the final article, Julie Walsh fills in our understanding of Jael and her story in Judges 4–5. Julie draws connections from Jael backwards to the promise of Genesis 3:15 and also forward from Jael to the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.
This issue includes a review of the book Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, edited by Sandra Glahn (Kregel Academic, 2017). This book, a welcome addition to any evangelical egalitarian’s shelf, is itself a collection of character sketches.
When I chose the theme, Character Sketches, for this issue, I was only thinking of the word “character” in its literary sense—a person in a story. But of course, the word can also sum up someone’s exemplary personality—to have character is to have noble character. The cover of this issue pictures a woman of high character: Gretchen Gaebelein Hull. As you move from this editorial to the facing page, you will read a tribute to Gretchen, who passed to the presence of the Lord earlier this year. In hindsight, therefore, the theme Character Sketches is especially appropriate.