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The Baptist men’s group in the little West Texas church had wanted me to speak on the traditional topic “The Woman Behind the Man.” (Priscilla Papers, Spring 2001, p. 22). But the more I studied the Scriptures in order to prepare my message, the more the assigned theme changed. As I made my partial survey of the Bible, I had to do it under the revised heading that I have given to these modest columns: The Woman Beside the Man. Read more
History—at least official history—is always written by the winners. For some time, the advocates of an institutional, hierarchical, orderly, and preeminently masculine vision of the church have undoubtedly been the winners, and they have been permitted to frame the discussion. Read more
A number of years ago a Baptist men’s group in the panhandle of far West Texas wanted to have a ladies night. They invited their wives and girl friends, and they invited me to be their speaker. They assigned me the following rather traditional topic: “The Woman Behind the Man.” They thought that was an appropriate theme for Ladies’ Night with the Baptist Men. Read more
In chapter 16 of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul offers greetings to friends and ministry associates. Several women are mentioned among Paul’s coworkers: Phoebe (v. 1), Prisca (v. 3), Mary (v. 6), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (v. 12), the mother of Rufus (v. 13), Julia (v. 15), and the sister of Nereus (v. 15). An interesting textual variation occurs in verse 7 that has bearing on the range of offices held by Paul’s female coworkers. The NRSV translates verse 7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” The name Junia here denotes a woman. But a superscript letter in the NRSV refers the reader to a note that says, “Or Junias; other ancient authorities read Julia.” The NIV, in contrast, translates, “Greet Andronicus and Junias.” This translation construes both names as those of men, and no explanatory note is appended. What is the cause of the discrepancy here? How can the original Greek be so ambiguous that translators are unsure of what the name is and whether it denotes a man or a woman? Read more
Traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis have led to the heaviest blame often falling on Eve for the entrance of sin and death into the world. I have encountered in most surprising places the almost word-for-word affirmation of apocryphal Sirach 25:24 (c. 250 B.C.): “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die.” Faulty interpretations of many Bible texts concerning women foster the low status, oppression, and abuse of women the world around, which is one of the greatest social evils. Read more
One of the things that led me to my subject was a promise I made to a pastor from Florida whom I met while at Oxford. His church struggles with a biblical basis for women in leadership roles. The church has female deacons and women in other positions of leadership in the church, but as often happens, he was being challenged with some regularity to give a biblical justification for this. We had several lengthy conversations on the subject, and he later asked me to write up for him the essence of our conversations. I readily agreed to do so once I got back to my office and personal library and had some time to give the matter serious thought. Read more
How often has a momentous event in history occurred because of a small deed done or a word spoken? We will never know, but much of history would probably be different had this deed or that conversation never taken place. We want to look at the contributions of four nameless Old Testament women and see how they were involved in the course of Israel’s history. Read more
I will examine the different views regarding this issue and give a brief summary of the New Testament account of women in leadership. I will give particular attention to those passages of Scripture that have been the primary cause of disagreement over this issue. And I also will relate this subject to the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG), the denomination of which I am a part. Read more
I am from Chicago where a white supremacist shooter went on a rampage in July of 1999. He killed Ricky Birdsong, a friend and a member of my church, whom we called Coach. Coach was loving, jovial, very committed to reconciliation, and deeply devoted to his family. He lived in an affluent neighborhood and he was doing great work with his life. Coach was walking home from the playground with his two kids. The white supremacist had just shot at five Jewish people in the neighborhood where I used to live, and then drove to another Jewish neighborhood. My guess is he went looking for a Jewish person, just happened to see my friend Coach walking down the street with his kids, and decided a black man would do. Read more
The New Testament is the earliest source for Mary. Galatians, possibly written around 57 AD, speaks of Jesus being “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4); that is our earliest reference to the mother of Christ. All the Gospels, probably written between 70 and 100 AD, testify to the existence of Mary. Read more

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