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Priscilla Papers

Muted Group Theory (MGT) is a sociological tool that aids in the study of interactions between dominant and sub-dominant groups—including, but not limited to, men and women. MGT can help those who have become aware of dynamics between the powerful and the marginalized but do not have a clear framework for articulating this awareness Read more
Authors Jason Eden and Naomi Eden consider, in light of the case of Naomi's 104 year-old grandmother, a well-respected leader in her church community, how age might affect debates and controversies regarding the status of men and women within contemporary Christian circles. Read more
This article reports on a study of the ideologies and decision-making of Christian married couples. We specifically explored the beliefs these couples held regarding decision-making at the beginning of their marriages, those they currently hold, and what prompted any changes in those beliefs across time. Read more
Throughout American history, gender theologies have been used to signify a religious organization’s level of tension to the surrounding culture. As a result, religious organizations have changed their gender theologies in response to cultural change. This process can be illustrated by a tale of two Baptists. Invigorated by the First Great Awakening of the 1740s, a robust American tradition of female piety was born. Revivalists broke with Puritan orthodoxy that equated Christianity to a hierarchical family. The revivalists, instead, envisioned a new covenant—one that emphasized individual rebirth within a community that was related, not by biological ties, but by grace. Within the bond of spiritual fellowship, the revivalists affirmed that men and women, rich and poor, lettered and ignorant, were as capable as ordained clergy of discerning spiritual truth, leading to communities of relative egalitarianism. Read more
Over the past several decades, women have made strides toward equality in the secular world as well as the church. While some claim these changes have happened too quickly and mourn what they see as the loss of tradition, others believe they have been too long in coming and lament that we still have so far to go. While studying certain aspects of the debate, we—this article’s authors—began to craft a research project: Cameron posed a question while a student in Susan’s Gender Studies course, a question which has focused our attention on a related but unexplored aspect of the gender equality struggle. Here is what happened. Read more
Human beings begin to develop gender identities very early in life as they pick up on cues and clues given off from the sociocultural contexts in which they find themselves. As people and institutions demonstrate socially appropriate ways of being male or female, children become apprentices and learn what it means to be a boy or girl in their culture. Read more
Many adolescent girls face psychological struggles. For example, eating disorders disproportionately affect adolescent girls compared to the rest of the population. Approximately 40 percent of anorexia nervosa cases occur in females ages fifteen to nineteen.1 The prevalence of this disorder is of special concern given that the mortality rate for anorexia nervosa is more than twelve times greater than the annual death rate due to all causes of death for girls ages fifteen to twenty-four years in the general population.2 Read more
We hear much these days about differences between males and females. Television advertisements encourage us to purchase different vitamins for our sons and daughters based on their claims that females need skin care assistance while males need help building muscle. Manufacturers of adult undergarments assure us men and women have different undergarment needs, pointing to supposed differences in the way males and females drive their vehicles. The marketing of everything from toys to different Bibles for girls and boys suggests that even children are completely opposite in their essence. The uninformed might be persuaded that males and females are of two different species. Read more
The Puritans are not known for their egalitarianism. Indeed, the word “Puritan” instead conjures up images of witch-burning, fun-draining, Quaker-persecuting authoritarians who restricted women to a life of dreary housework and perpetual childrearing. There is some truth to this stereotype. Certainly, the typical Puritan minister viewed women as subordinate beings who needed to keep quiet in church and be submissive to their husbands. As Benjamin Wadsworth noted in a sermon titled The Well-Ordered Family, “The husband is called the head of the woman. It belongs to the head to rule and govern.”1 The cases of Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer—strong-willed women who suffered banishment or execution for defying the established order—lend further credence to our stereotypes about the Puritans.2 Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more

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Consider the Women: A Provocative Guide to Three Matriarchs of the Bible

Making my way into this book, I increasingly felt I could not write a review without knowing at least a bit about its author. Debbie Blue is co-founding minister of House of Mercy, a Christian congregation in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her earlier books affirm the Incarnation (Sensual Orthodoxy, 2004), decry bibliolatry (From Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again, 2008), and explore the symbolism of birds in the Bible (Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible, 2013). Her bio at houseofmercy.org says she “approaches scripture . . .

Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible

“We must revisit what the Scriptures say about some Bible women we have sexualized, vilified and/or marginalized. Because, above all, we must tell the truth about what the text says” (16). So writes editor Sandra Glahn in the preface to this volume. Glahn teaches media arts and worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. She holds a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is author or co-author of more than twenty books, including several volumes in The Coffee Cup Bible Study Series.

Book Review: What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women

The Rev. Dr. Kevin Giles is a longstanding supporter of women in leadership. Over the course of more than forty years, he has written at least nine books on the topics of women, ministry, and the Trinity. Many of his books on women have been published in Australia (e.g., Women and Their Ministry [Dove Communications 1977], Created Woman [Acorn Press 1985], and Better Together [Acorn Press 2010]). Now he has written What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women with a North American publisher (Cascade Books).

Book Review: Phoebe: A Story

In this work of historical fiction, Paula Gooder presents an imaginative telling of the life and ministry of Phoebe. While Gooder does not offer an introduction to the book, she does provide helpful comments in the endnotes. She states that her purpose in writing this story is not simply to provide an entertaining novel, but also to inform readers of the reality behind the NT text (225). Gooder sparks the imagination of her audience by disclosing scholarly information concerning the Greco-Roman world through the medium of narrative.

Book Review: Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire

Few evangelical Christians have not heard of pastor Mark Driscoll, and few are therefore unaware of his scandalous history at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. After building up one of the fastest growing church networks in America (see www.acts29.com) from the late 1990s to 2014, Driscoll was let go by the very fellowship of churches he helped build, on various charges of unethical behavior.

Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction

The terms “feminism” and “feminist” are thrown around quite a bit these days. But the referent is rarely obvious. For some, feminists are men and women who want generic equality between the sexes. For others, feminists are extreme political, female leftists who angrily propose laws to penalize a whole range of social inequalities—whether in public or private spheres. For still others, feminism is an academic ideology that is currently trendy, especially at universities, which may overlap with pro-LGBTQ and/or Neo-Marxist projects. The list could go on.

Patterns of Ministry among the First Christians

In this second edition of Patterns of Ministry among the First Christians, Kevin Giles states that his primary goal is to provide a detailed study of the historical development and characteristics of Christian leadership that is accessible to a wide range of readers (viii). Accordingly, Giles avoids technical language that might hinder non-specialists. Additions to the 1991 edition include multiple digressions which will be of interest to readers of Priscilla Papers, as well as a closing chapter devoted to ordination.

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.

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