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Priscilla Papers

Well-known New Testament scholar and friend of CBE International, Scot McKnight, in his Jesus Creed blog entry on July 19, 2016, mentions three measures of biblical “teaching about male-female relations.” One of the three is how often the Song of Songs is mentioned. Read more
Havilah Dharamraj
The Song abandons, even resists, the cultural accommodation that the rest of the OT makes to the male prerogative of jealousy within romantic love. This egalitarian ideal is amplified into the human-divine metaphor, offering the devotee a claim to the undivided affection of God, the same affection that he expects of his devotee. The Song looks forward to the ideal of lovers perfectly matched. Green eyes and all. Read more
Liz Gentry
“A sermon on Song of Solomon! But single people aren’t supposed to read that book!” This was my friend’s surprised and sarcastic reply as I told him I was working on this sermon. I laughed one of those rather somber “this is too real” kind of laughs, realizing the great irony of writing a sermon on a book that has had a painful history of being repressed or denied for those of us who are single. Read more
Regardless of its often-preached status through the centuries, I can count the number of sermons I have heard on this book on one hand. This is odd, in a sense, because in the conservative churches of my youth, marriage was expected, desired, and normative. But the romantic, even erotic voice of the Song was unwelcome on Sunday mornings. Sex was not a topic for the worship assembly, unless we were being reminded to save it for marriage. Sex was one of many dangers we were expected to “just say no” to, including especially serious matters such as drugs and alcohol, as well as other activities such as dancing and mixed gender swimming. Evidently the True Love Waits people had not read the Song’s explicit language closely enough to realize that both lovers are single. Read more
Christine Marchetti
The Song of Songs stands alone among the books of the Jewish and Christian canons as an unabashed exploration of sensual human love. Yet this interpretation was repressed for centuries, and the Song was instead read allegorically. Tremper Longman’s commentary notes evidence of early arguments that the Song deals with God’s relationship with humanity, and by AD 100, the allegorical interpretation was firmly established: Jews believed the poem reflects the relationship between God and Israel or between God and the individual soul; Christians followed suit, claiming the lovers’ romance symbolizes Christ’s love for the church. However, Cheryl Exum, Richard Hess, and Longman join a consensus of modern scholars who reject an allegorical interpretation, and they do so for similar reasons. Read more
Kirk MacGregor
This article maintains that the interpolation hypothesis sets a dangerous precedent for textual scholars who evaluate manuscripts, a precedent which would, albeit unintentionally, threaten the authenticity of many sound NT passages attested by the earliest relevant manuscripts but not by later manuscripts. Rather than following the interpolation hypothesis, this article argues that 1 Cor 14:33b–38 is best understood as Paul’s quotation and subsequent refutation of the Corinthian men’s position that women ought to be silent in the assemblies, a position which originated in the Judaizing faction of the church. Read more
Sara Barton
Because of the prevalence of traditional femininity ideologies that have subjugated women and shamed them for their sexuality, and because of unhealthy sexual narratives in our daily news, it is vital to teach an alternative spiritual narrative. The Song is an example of lovers who talk about sex and intimacy in a healthy mutual exchange. Women who are overcoming teaching, language, or experiences that have sexually disempowered them can be encouraged by the sensual and passionate Shulammite woman who takes initiative, for she seeks her lover, she is responsive to him, she wants intimacy, and she is intimate. Read more
Priscilla Papers was first published in January of 1987. The broader organization, Christians for Biblical Equality, followed about a year later. Thus 2017 is CBE International’s thirtieth anniversary and is being celebrated as a “Year of Jubilee.” This expanded issue of Priscilla Papers functions as part of this Jubilee celebration. In it you will find a compendium of evolving evangelical egalitarian thought stretching back to our beginning and beyond. Read more
Kari Torjesen Malcolm
For years I've loved the story about the Velveteen Rabbit who was preoccupied with her identity--whether she was real or not! Sitting among the toys in a child's room, she asks the skin horse about it, and gets the profound reply, "You are real when you are loved. When I was cuddled so much that I began to lose my skin, then I knew that I was real." Read more
I begin this discourse with a disclaimer, since the title suggests far more than one can deliver in a limited amount of space. It suggests far more knowledge about this topic than I actually have—indeed, it is safe to say that there is much more that we don’t know about these things than we actually do. What I hope to do is to offer a few probings into the cultural background of this passage—which has become such a crux for people on both sides of the issue of whether there is a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home, based on gender alone. Read more

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Book Review: The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity

The terms “page turner” and “doctrine of the Trinity” would not often be found in the same sentence, but they are appropriate in the case of Kevin Giles’s most recent book on the issue. I found this five-chapter account of a recent theological dispute absolutely riveting, even though I already knew how it would end! It is an extraordinary story, told by a major player in the drama.

Book Review: My Daughter a Preacher!?!

Leslie Flynn has made many valuable contributions to the church during his long and distinguished career. He served as pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Nanuet, NY for forty years. He has written thirty-eight books including this 1996 title. I have never seen a long book by Pastor Flynn. His books are brief, not because he writes on unimportant topics but because he has the gift of concise statement and brevity.

Book Review: The Private War of Mrs. Packard

Every time discouragement sets in because of the slow progress of egalitarian ideas, we ought to be able to reach over our shoulders and pull from the shelf a book such as Sapinsley's. The story of Mrs. Packard (1816-1897), set in the American midwest, should remind all of us how much has been accomplished by our forebears.

Book Review: No Time for Silence

Chosen as one of ETERNITY magazine's best books of the year in 1987, this book encourages women to use their gifts fully in proclaiming the Gospel. Dr. Hassey presents the significant contributions made by American women engaged in public ministry in past years, and who were enthusiastically supported by such institutions as Moody Bible Institute. She writes, 'The earliest Bible conferences welcomed women preachers and Bible teachers . . .

Book Review: Building Your Family to Last

The secret of building families to last is found in Kari's emphasis on parents modelling the Christian life before their children. If the mother and father— who are responsible before God for what happens in the home—are not walking with God, and not walking in harmony with each other before God, how can they become models to their children? Hence this modelling has to start with choosing a life partner with the same foundation in life and faith and loving obedience to Jesus Christ.

Book Review: Is God the Only Reliable Father?

This small, highly provocative book by a staff associate for the General Assembly Mission Board, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has surprising premises and conclusions, worthy of the careful attention of pastors and serious students of the Bible. Tennis pleads with readers not to abandon the imagery and language of God the Father. Her conclusion is not surprising—but some of her reasons are.

Book Review: Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity

The four-volume Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity (DDL) provides a well-rounded overview of life not only across time periods but also across the several cultures of the biblical world. Thirty-three scholars, including editors Edwin M. Yamauchi (Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University) and Marvin R. Wilson (Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College), have contributed to the DDL.

Book Review: Gender Roles and the People of God

Theologian and author Alice Mathews recently said in a Christianity Today interview with Hannah Anderson, “Satan knows that if he can keep women out of service, in the church and in the world, he will have won an enormous victory.” Mathews’s most recent book, Gender Roles and the People of God, takes back some of the territory gained by the enemy.

Book Review: Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry

Walter Brueggemann dedicates his seminal work, The Prophetic Imagination: “For my sisters in ministry who teach me daily about the power of grief and the gift of amazement.” As he describes the grief and amazement that together shape the prophetic imagination, he also describes the story of many women in ministry—lamenting what is broken in themselves, the church, and the world while also imagining what can be.

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