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Published Date: June 5, 2000

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Book Review: Women Leaders and the Church

This new book is one of the best I have read in a long time, due to its easy-to-read style and thorough treatment of women and the Bible. The author is professor of biblical literature at North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago.

If you have thoughtful friends who are pastors, professional Christian workers, Bible students or others who believe they have “looked at the evidence” but still are convinced that the Bible defines “separate roles” for men and women in the church and society, this is a good book to give them. It also belongs in the library of every seminary, college and Bible school.

Women who are seeking guidance as to how they can and should serve God in the 21st century will be graciously liberated in reading this book.

Belleville organizes her material around three questions:

1)   In Which Ministries Can Women Be Involved?

2)   What Roles Can Women Play in Society?

3)   Can Women Hold Positions of Authority?

One of the virtues of this book is the spirit that pervades its pages. The writer is not defensive. She does not find fault or belittle those who hold other opinions. She simply lays out the historical and biblical facts in disarming ways. Material is carefully documented for anyone to check.

Another virtue is that the writing style, although scholarly, is relatively easy to read. Anyone with an interest in the subject will be carried along without much effort.

She gives comprehensive treatment to historic Judaism in Old Testament and New Testament times. Information on Greek and Roman religions is enlightening.

She deals in depth (and within context) with every passage in the Bible that has been used to limit women in society, marriage and church.

She closes with the basic truths that emerge from her study:

1)   God gifts women in exactly the same ways he gifts men.

2)   God intended the male-female relationship to be equal and mutual.

3)   The concept of the local church in the New Testament is an organic one, not a hierarchical one.