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Priscilla Papers

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.

Book Review: The New Perspective on Mary and Martha

Recently, as I was listening to a Christian radio station, the female announcer shared that she was feeling guilty about her busy life. She made reference to the biblical “story of Mary and Martha,” typically feeling at fault because she was not taking ample time to “sit at Jesus’ feet” properly. She went on to say that Martha had it wrong because she was more concerned about her chores than she was about being in the presence of the Lord. These two sisters are examples, one positive and one negative.

Book Review: The Message of Women: Creation, Grace and Gender

As part of the “Bible Themes” series within the larger The Bible Speaks Today collection of Bible commentaries and themes, The Message of Women is an exposition rather than a detailed commentary. It explores the life of women in Old Testament times and in the life of Jesus and the subsequent life of the early church. Without actually saying what is suggested by the title of their work, Derek and Dianne Tidball find a message for the twenty- first century church.

Book Review: Her Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women

Reading Her Own Story is like looking through an ancient, rusty trunk in your great-grandmother’s attic and finding, hidden under yellowing linens and fading daguerreotypes, the journals of a forgotten female relative. The journals make this unheard-of kinswoman come to life in such a way that you feel you know her intimately. She writes of her spiritual journey in all of its joy, splendor, pain, and frustration.

Book Review: Equal to Serve

When I attended the last Sydney Diocesan Synod I was aware that events outside the Chapter House were frequently of greater interest than those inside that hallowed structure. One of the exciting extramural activities was the visit of Mrs.G.G. Hull who spoke lucidly and informatively on the subject of the role of women in the church.

What Mrs. Hull said on that occasion is available on tape from the Anglican Radio Unit and is expanded in this book. The book has as its subtitle, ''Women and Men in the Church and Home".

Book Review: Equal to Serve

"We are to concentrate on the inner characteristics of a person, not on his or her gender." So states author Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, a biblical feminist whose new book, Equal To Serve, comes to grips with the controversial social issues of today. What are the roles of women and men in marriage, parenthood, the workplace? They are to be assumed with complete freedom and shared responsibility, answers Hull.

Book Review: Priscilla's Letter

Ruth Hoppin has spent decades researching Adolf Harnack's hypothesis that Priscilla wrote the biblical Epistle to the Hebrews. A first book, Priscilla, Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, was published in the late 1960s. Since that time additional relevant material has been published, some of it related to the Dead Sea Scrolls. This book is an update which takes such material into account.

Book Review: I Suffer Not a Woman

Until now, this reviewer had to acknowledge he simply did not understand Paul's statement: "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man" (1Tim 2:12).

No explanation rang scripturally true: e.g. "rabbinical male bias" or "a local cultural problem." Exceptions for women teaching or preaching ("only occasionally" or "under male authority" or "if there aren't male missionaries") sounded like semantics.

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Volume 22

Flame of far celestial fire, lighting every high desire, promised gift of Christ’s ascending, still a heavenly flame descending on each soul with Spirit gifting, Read more
Throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century, women be­gan to enter the seminaries of the United States in record num­bers. Upon graduation, many sought ordination and have served well in various ministry positions for many years. These same women now find themselves sitting on empty nests, entrenched in the “good old boys” network that makes up much of the patri­archal church structure, encountering a variety of “stained-glass ceilings,” and wondering if this is where they belong. Read more
The Book of Genesis opens with the words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (my trans.). Since God is eternal, what “beginning” can the text be discussing? Certainly not God’s. God is always existing, which is a concept absolutely inconceivable to us finite creatures who know only beginnings and endings, breakings down and startings up, all of which are limited by time. Obviously, then, the “beginning” Genesis describes is ours—the book commences with the creation of our world. Its opening tells us nothing about pre-creation other than to affirm the fact that God was already there. If it did tell us more, it would have begun in an entirely different way, say, “Long ago, before anything was created, the Great Triune God forever lived in perfect love, peace, and unity in an eternal day without morning or evening, constantly communicating that perfect love among the persons of the Godhead. Verily, this is what the Trinity was like before there was creation and incarnation . . .” and then a lot of details. Read more
Does the doctrine of the Trinity shed any light on why God created us as human beings with gender? Any consideration of the relationship of men and women must fall, first, under the more universal constraints of all Christian discipleship. The ethic of love must undergird any and every other ethical obligation of men and women together. Second, we are biblically obligated to recognize that God’s own love revealed in Christ provides the norm for our loving of one another even as men and women. Third, we are biblically warranted to compare the relationship of men and women analogically to God’s relationship to us in Christ, and that relationship may be analogically compared to the relationship of the triune persons. In theological terms, Scripture encourages us to discern an analogy of relations, but not an analogy of being, between God and humanity. Read more
Though the freedom of women to be leaders in the church has increased in recent years, patriarchy continues to exercise considerable influence within contemporary evangelicalism. Evangelical patriarchy maintains that certain ministry positions in the church are inappropriate for women and should be restricted to men. In particular, women should not operate in positions of authority over men (representatives differ over which offices they deem authoritative). This view does not assert that women are of lesser value or dignity than men, but that God designed women to be subordinate to men in role or function. Hence, its advocates usually prefer the term “complementarianism” over patriarchy, since it emphasizes the affirmative aspects of their position (i.e., that men and women complement each other). In contrast to such a view, the argument of my article is that women should be welcomed and encouraged to serve in positions of church leadership and authority, and that giftedness and not gender should determine a person’s qualification to serve. This is because Spirit gifting is the primary criterion of suitability for Christian ministry. The sovereign call of the Holy Spirit trumps all other criteria that are based on church structure and tradition or the innate qualities of individual persons (including gender). A preference for Spirit gifting is a common starting point for egalitarians, but it frequently lacks a thorough theological grounding and is criticized for being excessively experiential. This article demonstrates that the prioritization of Spirit gifting is not simply an appeal to experience or to mystery, but derives from the logic of the dynamics of Trinitarian grace. The sources for this Trinitarian foundation include Augustine’s mutual love model and J. B. Torrance’s discussion of the mediation of Christ. While the latter draws relevant implications from the sole priesthood of Christ, the former demonstrates why Christ’s work is inseparable from the Spirit’s work. Read more
The entire Bible refers to the ministry of the Holy Spirit and to the triune nature of the God we worship; however, in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit’s influence moves from being for particular people at particular times, as in the Old Testament, to a pouring out on all flesh. The opening events of the Book of Acts lead us to the day of Pentecost and Peter’s interpretation of extraordinary happenings involving a room full of fervently praying, Christ-following men and women who become powerfully enabled by God. Read more
On an Internet discussion in which I participated, one hierarchist stated essentially that women should not be encouraged to preach because, by doing so, they would “dishonor God.” Indeed, this conclusion is entailed by the patriarchal position: according to God’s creational ordinance, a woman is forbidden the “role” whereby she might speak publicly and authoritatively, particularly to men, about the gospel of Christ and the truths set forth in God’s word. This article will question the validity of this view and will argue for the conclusion that “complementarity without hierarchy” is the proper biblical interpretation. Read more
Eighteen hundred years ago, a cell group of Christians was arrested during the per­secution of a.d. 202–203 that accompanied a brief stopover at Rome of the pugnacious Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus. At Antioch on January 1, 202, Severus had declared his son Bassianus (nicknamed “Caracalla,” or “greatcoat” for the military outfit he habitually wore) joint counsel with him and returned to Rome, only to set out for a trip to Africa in 203–04. Read more
It is no secret that the vast majority of the voices that speak to us from the days of the early church are male. Early church history is filled with stories of famous martyr-bishops such as Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. a.d. 107–8), Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. a.d. 156), and Cyprian of Carthage (d. a.d. 258). In addition to these un­forgettable personages, there is also no lack of male evangelists, apologists, and theologians whose views are readily available for anyone who has the time and desire to read them. As an early church historian, I would hardly dissuade anyone from taking up such a task. However, it saddens me that the stories of women, who surely must have made up at least fifty percent of the early church population, go largely untold. Read more
In the time of Herod, king of Judea, a young Jewish girl gave birth to a child who would change the course of history. What is men­tioned of her in Scripture is significant, yet, throughout the cen­turies, the identity and person of Mary has been elaborated upon by Catholics and often overlooked by Protestants. The biblical Mary was a woman who is to be revered not only for her faith in God, but also for what God accomplished through her. However, the metamorphosis of Mary’s identity from humble Jewish girl to semi-divine Mother of God was born out of the tradition of the medieval church, not the Scriptures. Read more

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