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Priscilla Papers

During daily devotions, even the most harried or casual reader arriving at the second and third epistles of John (2 John and 3 John) is struck by the similarities of structure and style. In 1912, Canon A. E. Brooke, in his International Critical Commentary volume, showed us exactly what we are noticing by listing all the parallel Greek phrases in these letters, demonstrating “the following phrases show the close similarity of their general structure.” For him, since “it is hardly necessary to discuss the question of their common authorship, . . . the Second and Third Epistles of S. John naturally form a pair.” What is true of one is true of the other.  Read more
The recent premiere of news writer Emilio Herasme’s documentary La 40: Peor que el Infierno celebrates the memory of the Dominican Republic’s national heroes: Minerva, Patria, and María Teresa Mirabal. These three sisters stood up against the brutality of the dictator Rafael Trujillo at the cost of condemning themselves to execution at the hands of his death squad. Read more
Among the most beautiful passages in the Bible are those precious glimpses of life before the fall, when God plants a garden in the eastern land called “Eden,” graces it with flowering fruit-bearing trees, and waters it all with a river that flows out of Eden and winds through lands of gold, onyx, and pearls (Gen. 2:8–14).1 Into this natural paradise, placed as the central jewel in a setting of green and gold and black and white, God settles the first humans, entrusting them with its care (Gen. 1:26; 2:15, 22), blessing them (Gen. 1:28), and delighting both in their company and in strolling through the exquisite, pristine orchards in the airy (ruah) part of the day (Gen. 3:8). This last phrase is often translated “the cool” of the day, and I assume it means dusk, when our first parents’ daily work was done and their heavenly Parent visited them and enjoyed their reports of what they had done. Some of us might think of our own families, as we look forward to arriving home and catching up in the evening with our children. This primal image is a beautiful one to savor, the last pure moment, as it is, before the night of misery falls and humanity suffers through the consequences of the curse, longing down the ages for what was lost, as millennia pile upon millennia. For now, just as the Lord God, we sometimes arrive at home to our children and find instead not sweet communion, but the need to mete out punishment. Read more
Family is very precious to me. Those of you who have read our book Joy through the Night will know that my family was profoundly affected by the death of my sister in a drowning accident at a public pool on a playground field trip. Two years later, my father was critically injured in a work accident. Self-employed, he was plunged into financial difficulties. This was in the 1950s, when fewer cultural nets were in place in the United States to catch such victims of catastrophe. Through this all, my parents tried valiantly to hold our dwindling family together. Read more
I came upon the delightful account of the Wise Women of Waban as I was researching my chapter on “Equality and Native Americans in North America” in the recent book I had the delight to edit with our CBE president, Dr. Mimi Haddad, and my wife, the Rev. Dr. Aída Besançon Spencer, Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Serving Together in the Church. Read more
One of the earliest hymns we have in our treasury of praise, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” celebrates the moment when “the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, / First revealed His sacred face.”1 Read more
The church has not only the right, but the duty, to be the church of Jesus Christ. . . . The job of the priest isn’t to give you the answers to all of your questions for all of your life. But the priest is there to help you frame the questions and to point you toward the one with the answers. The goal of the priest is that you might enter into a mature relationship with God. We believe in the priesthood of all believers. Have you taken to heart the implications of your own priesthood? Read more
One’s identity and self-definition are dependent to a great degree on well-placed trust. That societal, familial, political, or religious forces that define us are not always trustworthy is the catastrophic reality that can lead to tragic effects. Some of these are subtle. Some of them are blatant. Some of them are even violent. Read more
Many decades ago, while I was still a young and brash student, I happened to read about a book being assembled analyzing a variety of interpretive approaches to literature. With all the gall of a neophyte, I contacted the editors, pointed out they were missing a chapter on “Christian interpretation,” suggested I could supply that need, and they agreed (with great reluctance) to let me submit an idea for it. I took the Christological approach (an emphasis on identifying Christ-types), ladled in some exegetical method, peppered it with what I thought would be centrist Christian doctrinally dogmatic elements, and sailed it out onto their waters. It subsequently sank. Obviously unimpressed, they sent me back a form letter thanking me so much for my efforts and essentially telling me to get lost. Read more
Barak may be the most misunderstood hero in the entire Bible. For years, this thoughtful warrior who insured a victory by forgoing personal glory to partner up with God’s anointed spokeswoman Deborah has been dismissed out of hand by simplistic, popular readings of his complex egalitarian story. Read more

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Book Review: Women and Men: Gender in the Church

This book emerges out of a rich Mennonite heritage that rather consistently deals with major social issues as they relate to biblical faith. Carol Penner's panel of authors, representing various segments of the North American Mennonite scene, have produced a very usable book suited both for adult Bible study home groups and for adult Sunday School classes. The authors are all egalitarian in their approach to Scripture and practice.

Book Review: What Does She Want From Me Anyway? Honest Answers to the Questions Men Ask About Women

In an ideal world we would not need a book like this. Husbands would frequently fulfill one of their basic marital duties by sitting down and listening to their wives. Wives would be able to express their needs, wishes, and desires with clarity, and husbands would be committed to working on solutions. Likewise, wives would be eager to sit down and listen to their husbands to provide a similar function for them. But we do not live in an ideal world and apparently there are countless husbands who have no idea how to function in their marriages.

Book Review: Mae Elise Cannon's Social Justice Handbook

As the director of finance and planning services for a community action agency, I spend my working hours "engaging the community to end poverty." Yet, it is my belief that the Bible calls upon the Christian community to be associated with the economically vulnerable and, as part of church life and discipleship, to seek to address the issues of poverty. It is my passion to connect Christians to those affected by poverty and to help the Christian community to think about the ways they can engage the issues of social justice.

Book Review: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is intended for a broad readership with the aim of uniting those who might otherwise be divided because of their religious and political convictions. The authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism on an earlier project. They use their expertise to cast a light on the global sex trafficking industry of young women.

Book Review: Wayne Grudem's Evangelical Feminism

Evangelical Feminism is written to further a cause that has consumed the author's working life: the permanent subordination of women as God's ideal. It judges all fellow evangelicals who disagree on this matter to be "theological liberals," or implicit liberals. The fundamental seismic fault in the author's thinking is that he cannot differentiate between the interpretation of Scripture and Scripture itself.

Book Review: Carolyn Custis James's Half the Church

Carolyn Custis James is an established author; she has three previously published books, When Life and Beliefs Collide, Lost Women of the Bible, and The Gospel of Ruth. She holds an MA in biblical studies and is the founder and president of Synergy Women's Network. In this, her fourth book, Half the Church, James writes with passion and intensity to encourage women to fulfill God's call on their lives.

Book Review: Nancy Hedberg's Women, Men, and the Trinity

This very accessible book is an excellent place to start one's exploration into what has come to be called the "New Subordinationism" in current evangelical discussions of the Trinity. Author Nancy Hedberg, who is vice president for student life at Corban University in Salem, Oregon, is accustomed to communicating with young college students and brings that clarity over to her discussion of theology. She is a philosophical thinker who is gifted in understanding what an author is communicating as well as in relaying an accurate description of that position to readers.

Book Review: Submission within the Godhead and the Church in the Epistle to the Philippians

This volume by Sydney Park started life as a doctoral dissertation in New Testament studies. The style of the work is very academic, and the price of the hardback means very few, if any, nonspecialists will read it. This review will be devoted primarily to explaining the author's main argument, but I will indulge in just one critical comment toward the end.

Book Review: Responding to Abuse in Christian Homes

Responding to Abuse in Christian Homes: A Challenge to Churches and their Leaders represents the final book edited by Catherine Clark Kroeger, together with her colleagues Nancy Nason ­Clark and Barbara Fisher-Townsend. Similar to other publications by the late Dr. Kroeger, this book addresses the link between violence against Christian women by their (oftentimes) believing husbands and the incorrect theological presuppositions which enable the violence to persist.

Book Review: No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction

Marnie Ferree presents a deeply moving and sometimes disturbing investigation of sexual abuse from the perspective of the injured, as one who was deeply wounded through sexual victimization, and the healer, as an actively working counselor and minister to those who have experienced similar abuse. And, as if such revelatory investigations from the first-person perspective were not difficult enough, Ferree takes the discussion to an entirely new depth of difficulty: she presents herself as the perpetrator as well.

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