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Priscilla Papers

Aloo Mojola
The Bible generates a range of complex and often ambiguous attitudes. For some the Bible is perceived as an oppressive tool that has historically been used to alienate and dehumanize. It has been viewed as an instrument of empire, of colonial and cultural domination, of conquest and subjugation. At various times and places, the Bible has been used as a basis for the discrimination and oppression of women and minorities. The Bible is not neutral. Its entry into a culture sends mixed messages. Where some see loss, others see gain. Where some see dispossession, others see empowerment. Where some see conquest, others see freedom. Where some see cultural dispossession and alienation, others see a call and challenge to reclaim the divine image—and thus equality and dignity—in all humans. For many in the church, the Bible is viewed as a transformative and indispensable tool. It is the church’s guiding document, central to the formulation of her creeds, to the formation of her faith and practice, to the fostering and nurturing of just and loving communities. Bible translators strive to provide access to this ancient text. Indeed, without translation the biblical writings and their rich treasures would be forever inaccessible. The vast majority of people read or hear a translated Bible, a domesticated Bible that by means of translators’ mediation has crossed boundaries of time and space, of language and culture. Read more
In this article, I will first examine the Maa (the Maasai language) word pair olkitok and enkitok. Olkitok refers to a “master” whereas enkitok is the usual word for “woman.” I will then discuss the problems in gender relationships which the Maasai experience. These problems are often rooted in sinful attitudes held by men and women against each other. Today among the Maasai, for example, women are not seen as “great” (the root meaning of –kitok) but as “only children.” For this reason, the dignity Jesus offers women appeals to Maasai women. The Scriptures offer an uncompromising vision of gendered relationships, which is counter-culturally liberating for women. The gospel has been less appealing to Maasai men, leading one western scholar to refer to the Maasai churches as “a church of Women.” I will then explain that, while there are certainly areas where Maasai culture can benefit from Christian transformation, a recovery of traditional Maasai cultural values through a theologically robust process of inculturation can strengthen the Maasai churches as well. Maasai believers need a Maasai Christianity within which they “feel at home.” In addition, Maasai cultural hermeneutics has much to offer the global church. “Cultural hermeneutics” refers to communities viewing the Scriptures through the lens of their own culture. It “enables women to view the Bible through African eyes and to distinguish and extract from it what is liberating.” Read more
Rosemary Hack
Evangelical Christians often fail to live up to the biblical standards to which they ascribe. Unconscious and inconsistent behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs (recognized and unrecognized) are ever-present. Though striving to follow Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, our behavior and attitudes fail to adequately represent Christ. This article addresses habitual abusive behavior perpetrated by professing Christian men (and sometimes women1) against women. Many of the men mentioned herein do not seem to think such abuse is inconsistent with their lives as Christians, and often as Christian leaders.2 Read more
At the intersection of socioeconomics, ethnicity, and gender lurks one of the most insidious forms of violence against girls and women: sex trafficking. What theological insights should inform Christian ministry to victims and survivors of sex trafficking? Female theologians who are well-acquainted with histories of multiple forms of oppression should inform Christian practice. Therefore, mujerista (Spanish for “womanist”) and womanist scholars ought to be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, many evangelicals and other Christians whose praxis has primarily been informed by white, Western, male theological perspectives, are hesitant to consider theologies by and for women of color. This is a mistake. Whether or not a person fully embraces all the theological points of womanist and mujerista theologies, these contextualized liberation theologies contain powerful and poignant biblical truths that are particularly relevant to today’s victims and survivors of sex trafficking. This paper will first highlight relevant definitions and themes in mujerista and womanist theologies, then examine the implications for ministry among today’s sex trafficking victims and survivors Read more
This article is a philosophical reflection on dowry and how it bears on burial disputes among the Luo people of East Africa. Part one offers preliminary remarks to convey my position on dowry. Part two describes the implications of dowry on the burial dispute of a Luo woman named Veronica, as a way of illustrating the far-reaching effects of the dowry system. I have utilized Bernard Lonergan’s Transcendental Method in my thought process about dowry. This method is derived from Lonergan’s cognitional theory—experiencing, understanding my experience, judging the understanding of my experience, willingness to act informed by the judgment of the understanding of my experience, and finally leading to intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. In our efforts to raise consciousness about dowry, we can transpose the method into an invitation to engage in the following five imperatives: be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be willing, and be loving in our discourse on dowry and its long term implications. Read more
Dowry, or bride-wealth payment, is a widespread practice in many African societies. In traditional African societies bride-wealth had some positive aspects but mostly negative consequences, for it stands at the foundation of patriarchy. In traditional African societies, bride-wealth was related to goods and services that a bridegroom and his kinsmen transferred to the family of the bride. Traditionally, this transfer involved the delivery of livestock by a suitor to the father or family of his prospective bride Read more
Biblical narratives of barren wives such as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and the mother of Samson paint a picture of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness to fulfill promises to a burgeoning nation. In these narratives, the modern reader encounters polygyny and polycoity,1 wife rivalry, preferential treatment of certain wives and their children, and divorce, all of which are seemingly at odds with our biblical notions of marriage, divorce, and ethical treatment of others. Though scripture is mostly silent on the ramifications of barrenness, it is possible to look beyond the biblical witness to the broader ancient culture in order to understand its impact both on the women involved and society as a whole. Ancient legal, mythical, ritual, and medical records not only provide us with the broader cultural understanding of barrenness, but also, at times, mirror some of the personal and spiritual responses found in the biblical material. As a means of further understanding how this malady impacted ancient near eastern civilization, this article focuses on barrenness in legal records. Read more
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Lake Fairfax Park in northern Virginia, with its tantalizing water slides and charming boat rides, attracts thousands of visitors every year—young and old alike, singly, in twosomes, or in larger planned community outings. On a beastly torrid summer day, I went there with my family. Hundreds of folks pranced and splashed about in bathing suits. Being no exception to the norm, we were all in swimsuits, too. Read more
For nearly two thousand years, an elegant country villa lay buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a.d. 79. Located some three miles from Pompeii, the Villa Oplontis escaped the attention of archaeologists until the beginning of excavations in the last part of the twentieth century. 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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