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Priscilla Papers

In the United States, it is estimated that there are between fifty thousand to more than one million instances of child sexual abuse (CSA) each year. Research shows that one out of every four girls and one out of every seven boys has been sexually abused before the age of eighteen. This means that, “in any group of adults gathered together for ministry or another purpose, 15 to 20 percent of the people present may have been sexually abused by an adult before the age of eighteen.” We may have relatives, friends, colleagues, and members of our church who are still haunted by the traumatic memories of CSA and tormented by its poisonous effects on their lives, but who choose to conceal their pain. Churches and caregivers should not ignore the needs of this silent group of sufferers. This article discusses some of the major steps in the healing process of CSA survivors and how caregivers can be equipped to facilitate the process by adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Read more
Women of the graduating class of 2005, it is both an honor and a joy to be able to join your family, your friends, and other members of the seminary community in celebrating this last leg of your seminary journey with you. You have worked hard to arrive here, and, as you leave, you take with you a wealth of skills, wisdom, and insight as you go forth as ministers of the gospel. As one of the many faculty who has invested so much into seeing you succeed in your journey, I cannot resist taking this opportunity to ask you to be sure to take just one more theological insight with you as you leave. The one insight that I would like for you to take with you is this: A sure understanding of who you are. Read more
Arguably, Mary Wollstonecraft can be as relevant today as she was in 1792 when she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Her critique of societal norms and the education of women and children was revolutionary when she wrote it, and it still has the capability to be influential today. Why is this the case? Is her work so rich that it can be interpreted across cultures and time, or has society not changed as much as it might seem? Certainly, Wollstonecraft’s writing is interpretively rich and able to speak to many people; however, there are some elements of our contemporary society that might hinder the progress of the feminist movement, of which Wollstonecraft is considered the foremother. I intend to investigate Wollstonecraft’s argument for why men and women are equal in rationality and consider why her criticisms of society might still be applicable today by reflecting on applications to our broader society and, more specifically, the evangelical church. I will also suggest that it is unfortunate that a critique such as Wollstonecraft’s still needs to be applied in contemporary society, but that, if we can understand it in today’s context (and by neglecting it we would be causing injustice and miseducation to go unchallenged), then we should indeed apply her proposals. Read more
The recurrent dream takes me back to my grandmother’s house in one of the central islands in the Philippines. There is feasting and much laughter. I am surrounded by my extended family—cousins and aunts and uncles. In the midst of this gathering, I suddenly realize that I have to leave for America. Then I am at the airport, anxious about having to say goodbye. Next to me are unsorted pieces of luggage and packages, scattered at my feet. I am perturbed by the absence of order and by the cacophony of my surroundings. Then my mother, gently touching my shoulder and pointing to the pile of mismatched luggage, says: “Priscilla, these are gifts for you.” Read more
In recent years, more and more attention has been drawn to the Church in Mainland China from the Western World from both inside and outside of the church. David Aikman’s masterpiece Jesus in Beijing, Tony Lambert’s China’s Christian Millions and a series of books by Paul Hattaway have offered a vivid picture of the Church in Mainland China and thus stimulated a great interest among scholars to study the church in China and to predict her future. Read more
If we all approach the text of Scripture, each having his or her own framework of understanding (even when we share a view of the Bible that it is inerrant and true in all it affirms and teaches), is there any hope that we can ever reach a “correct” or “objectively valid” interpretation,1 especially on passages that are so sensitive as those that deal with the place and privilege of women in the body of Christ today? Surely, no one particular set of presuppositions is to be favored in and of itself over any other set of presuppositions as the proper preparation for understanding a text. And no one starts with a tabula rasa, a blank mind. So does this mean we are hopelessly deadlocked with no possibility for a resolution? Read more
Boundary markers are important to fundamentalists because they need enemies to energize their cause. In the so-called “conservative resurgence” currently seeking to divide Baptist loyalties, the initial “line in the sand” was the inerrancy slogan, which was dropped when it proved too ambiguous to define and enforce. In its place as a litmus test of loyalty was put the subordination of women, first in the home and then in the church, in the form of a 1998 family amendment and 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith & Message. Read more
We stood in the midst of 1,200 internally displaced people living in a makeshift camp of Sierra Leone, all trying desperately to tell their stories. The majority of the people were amputees. This is a sanitized word to describe people of all ages, both male and female, who were brutally chopped with machetes by rebel soldiers. I was in Sierra Leone on an assessment trip with World Hope International and connected with a Washington Post reporter. We traveled together to various parts of the country—he was researching stories while I was doing assessments. We both had heard of the brutalities and both had great compassion for the victims, but the stories became reality as I touched, smelled, listened, and cried with the women, children, and men. Read more
I want to share with you my personal reflections on my forty years’ involvement with women in ministry, trusting that I am old enough and have been at it long enough that such personal reflection is not in poor taste. Read more
Dear Pastor Smith: The debate within the body of Christ on the topic of women’s identity and role has often been cast as a battle between traditionalists ardently defending biblical truth and their critics who would, either by design or by ignorance, loosen the church from its biblical moorings in order to promote a foreign agenda. In truth, for many of us, our unease with the traditional position has nothing to do with being swayed by modern liberation movements; rather, our unease is a response to the weaknesses within the traditional position itself. Read more

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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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