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Biblical narratives are constructed word after word and line after line without the aid of tables, mechanical layouts, or images that show patterns to the reader. Even though the medium is linear by necessity, the resulting narratives have contours. Even though the narratives have progression in thought, the pathway is not always straight. Narrative writers provide textual, literary clues to the structure of their works through the employment of embedded patterns such as repetition, lead words, summary statements, the arrangement of units, intercalations, and the editing of known material. Read more
FROM THE CONCEPTION OF MANKIND IN THE     GARDEN OF EDEN UNTIL THIS PRESENT HOUR,   I WAS IN HIS PLAN. Read more
"Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' They came out of the town and made their way toward him... Many of the Samaritans from the town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did'." (John 4:28-30, 39, NIV) 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. Read more
A couple of years ago I was invited to participate as a speaker at a Christian college’s body-awareness week. The weeklong program had been designed to address the rampant eating disorders and entrenched negative views of the body found particularly among the female students. The counseling office was overwhelmed by the need for a healthy and redeeming view of the body it saw desperately lacking among its students. Women, in unprecedented numbers, were starving themselves, engaging in bulimia, and confessing deep shame about their bodies. Some of the male students responded with the attitude that these women needed to get over their “personal sin” by repenting and straightening up. Other young men claimed that they also suffered from the “lookism” in our culture, which measures people’s worth by their appearance.  How does this happen at a Christian college and among young people who have attended church all their lives? How does this happen at places that promote themselves as nurturing a Christian worldview and a certain degree of protection from the culture? Read more
Mary Magdalene appears in all four gospels as a witness of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Luke 8:2 explains that this particular Mary was called Magdalene, and all four evangelists consistently identify her by the name “Mary Magdalene” (Matt 27:56, 61; 28:1; Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1, 18). The only exceptions are John 20:11, 16, which contain a simple term “Mary,” but the context makes clear that this Mary is no one else but Mary Magdalene. It should also be noted that, similar to the designation given to some men, such as Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 16:6) and Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43, John 19:38), the second part of her name, Magdalene, points to her place of origin, the city of Magdala, located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee north of Tiberias. This designation uniquely distinguishes this Mary from all other Marys mentioned in the New Testament. An identification of a woman by her place of origin was quite rare in Judaism at the time. More common was a relational designation with regard to another family member, such as a parent (Mark 6:22; Luke 2:36) or a husband (Matt 1:6; Luke 8:3; John 19:25). The absence of such a relational term for this Mary suggests that she was neither a young girl under a direct guardianship of her father nor a married woman accountable to her husband. Most interpreters therefore assume that she was a widow. Read more
[W]omen in general have the sense of the person much more than men have. This means that they have a special mission, which is to reintroduce love, to give back its humanity to a world which remains so glacial when men alone have built it. —Paul Tournier1 Read more
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. Read more
Amid many texts in the gospels that provide more lengthy interactions of women with Jesus, there are four brief stories, often overlooked, that express Jesus’ concern for women. Jesus provides healing or life, particularly for those in an unclean status, expressed through the language of the taboo. In the first three contexts, the person is in an unclean status either due to the loss of blood, having an unclean spirit, or being in the sphere of death. The last story notes the male objection of the synagogue official with respect to the time of the woman’s healing; she lives in the sphere of the unclean (“having an unclean spirit,” Luke 13:11) and is exorcised/healed “on the Sabbath.” In each situation, Jesus is unresponsive to the objections concerning religious and social taboos; he abrogates such distinctions and critiques. Read more
Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21–28 can be perplexing to contemporary Christians. Why does Jesus seem to put off, in an apparently callous manner, a woman whose desperate plea for her daughter’s healing touches the heart of any loving parent? Why does he appear to demean her by calling her a “dog”? This article will look at the interaction between the Canaanite woman and Jesus, examining the social and scriptural underpinnings of their encounter. Read more
I love teaching undergraduates. In spite of days when glazed eyes dampen my enthusiasm, there are those special moments, epiphany-like occasions, when out of the mouths of college students come questions and observations that make me pause and silently exclaim, “And I get paid for this!” Read more

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