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Priscilla Papers

World religions have been charged with not only permitting, but also with perpetuating ingrained patterns of sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny. These religions, it seems, must either change or be left behind by all who believe that women and men are equal in their rights, abilities, and potential. Some charge that Christianity demeans and marginalizes women, that it is a male religion in which men are given the preponderance of power, prestige, and influence. But what did the founder of Christianity teach about women? Read more
Ever since I set forth a more-or-less representative egalitarian interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 in Good News for Women, I have felt somewhat dissatisfied with this approach. Although I found it considerably less problematic than the traditionalist interpretation, still it left me with some nagging questions. For instance, if women at Ephesus were not to teach or to have authority in the church because they were deceived or unschooled, why were they specifically prohibited only from teaching or having authority over men? And if Paul were addressing women and men in general, why did he speak in terms of “a woman” and “a man”? Read more
The Christian egalitarian woman is in a difficult position. If she truly believes God calls women to engage in the same types of ministries and offices of the church in which men engage, and if she is also committed to living a life that reflects God’s character, she is faced with a quandary. Read more
History—at least official history—is always written by the winners. For some time, the advocates of an institutional, hierarchical, orderly, and preeminently masculine vision of the church have undoubtedly been the winners, and they have been permitted to frame the discussion. Read more
The Baptist men’s group in the little West Texas church had wanted me to speak on the traditional topic “The Woman Behind the Man.” (Priscilla Papers, Spring 2001, p. 22). But the more I studied the Scriptures in order to prepare my message, the more the assigned theme changed. As I made my partial survey of the Bible, I had to do it under the revised heading that I have given to these modest columns: The Woman Beside the Man. Read more
A number of years ago a Baptist men’s group in the panhandle of far West Texas wanted to have a ladies night. They invited their wives and girl friends, and they invited me to be their speaker. They assigned me the following rather traditional topic: “The Woman Behind the Man.” They thought that was an appropriate theme for Ladies’ Night with the Baptist Men. Read more
In chapter 16 of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul offers greetings to friends and ministry associates. Several women are mentioned among Paul’s coworkers: Phoebe (v. 1), Prisca (v. 3), Mary (v. 6), Tryphaena and Tryphosa (v. 12), the mother of Rufus (v. 13), Julia (v. 15), and the sister of Nereus (v. 15). An interesting textual variation occurs in verse 7 that has bearing on the range of offices held by Paul’s female coworkers. The NRSV translates verse 7, “Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” The name Junia here denotes a woman. But a superscript letter in the NRSV refers the reader to a note that says, “Or Junias; other ancient authorities read Julia.” The NIV, in contrast, translates, “Greet Andronicus and Junias.” This translation construes both names as those of men, and no explanatory note is appended. What is the cause of the discrepancy here? How can the original Greek be so ambiguous that translators are unsure of what the name is and whether it denotes a man or a woman? Read more
Traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations of the early chapters of Genesis have led to the heaviest blame often falling on Eve for the entrance of sin and death into the world. I have encountered in most surprising places the almost word-for-word affirmation of apocryphal Sirach 25:24 (c. 250 B.C.): “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die.” Faulty interpretations of many Bible texts concerning women foster the low status, oppression, and abuse of women the world around, which is one of the greatest social evils. Read more
One of the things that led me to my subject was a promise I made to a pastor from Florida whom I met while at Oxford. His church struggles with a biblical basis for women in leadership roles. The church has female deacons and women in other positions of leadership in the church, but as often happens, he was being challenged with some regularity to give a biblical justification for this. We had several lengthy conversations on the subject, and he later asked me to write up for him the essence of our conversations. I readily agreed to do so once I got back to my office and personal library and had some time to give the matter serious thought. Read more
I will examine the different views regarding this issue and give a brief summary of the New Testament account of women in leadership. I will give particular attention to those passages of Scripture that have been the primary cause of disagreement over this issue. And I also will relate this subject to the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG), the denomination of which I am a part. Read more

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Book Review: Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle's Vison for Men and Women in Christ

In the often-heated evangelical debate concerning the ordination of women, one struggles to find a coherent and exhaustive work that covers more than the relevant Pauline texts. For example, the respected works by Philip Payne and Craig Keener provide concentrated exegesis on the significant Pauline texts.1 Cynthia Long Westfall’s recent book offers a larger interpretive framework for the evangelical gender debate, a framework that is lucid, compelling, and profoundly refreshing, and one which does not miss the theological forest for the exegetical trees.

Book Review: What's Right With Feminism

Many people are aware that women's wider opportunities to use their leadership gifts in both society and the church are due primarily to the efforts of women's movement—a feminist movement that began in this country in the mid-eighteen hundreds and was closely allied with the abolitionist movement. Yet as Christian women confront the complex (and often negative) baggage carried by the word "feminist" today, these women can often feel ill-equipped to sort out the many social and theological issues regarding women's roles in the nineteen nineties.

Book Review: Call Me Blessed: The Emerging Christian Woman

Faith Martin begins her book by stating: ''In the eyes of the church, a woman's humanity is overshadowed by her being perceived as a sex. Woman is the spiritual equal of man, but the church teaches that a woman's sex prevents a practical working out of that equality...All of this contrasts with the Holy Scriptures. When reading the Bible I am not conscious of my sex but conscious of my humanity. And so felt the women who flocked to Jesus. No man before or since has treated women as so completely human."

Book Review: Gender and Grace: Love, Work & Parenting In a Changing World

Gender and Grace is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most reassuring examinations of male-female relationships written from a Christian perspective. A professor of interdisciplinary studies at Calvin College, Van Leeuwen brilliantly integrates insights from faith and science, maintaining that the Bible provides the basic framework on which all our more detailed solutions to human problems must be founded.

Book Review: Veiled and Silenced: The Cultural Shape of Sexist Theology

This highly readable book introduces much interesting evidence to demonstrate that subordination of women perpetuates an institutionalized cultural myth rather than a scriptural truth.

Book Review: A Voice of Her Own by Nancy M. Tischler

Why, over the years, haven't women produced more in the arts—specifically in literature? At the turn of the century, Virginia Woolf began the answer to that important question by saying a woman could and would write given a "room of her own." This is the leisure, privacy, and financial support needed to encourage creativity that has traditionally been withheld from women either intentionally or because of the demands of other roles.

Book Review: Global Evangelicalism

Global Evangelicalism is an important contribution to historical and theological studies because of its scope and accessibility. The book is made up of an introduction, ten essays which are divided into three sections, and a glossary and index. The first section deals with basic theoretical issues, such as defining evangelicalism, describing its theological impulses, and its relationship to globalization. The second section is the heart of the book and is composed of five regional case studies of evangelicalism.

Book Review: Becky Wooley's Non-Prophet Murders

In her biography Fighting Angel, one of the most famous and disaffected missionary children of them all, the Nobel Prize-winning Pearl Buck, tells the sad tale of her longsuffering grandmother. After years of cooking, cleaning, serving for an unappreciative husband and set of sons, one day, she simply sat down on the porch. She had had enough. No amount of demanding, threatening, pleading, or cajoling could ever cause her to lift a finger to serve again.

Book Review: The New Evangelical Subordinationism?

This new book on the Trinity is not to be missed. It may well prove to be the definitive contemporary reader on the debate over whether the Trinity is stratified according to rank or not—God being equal in substance and equal in rank, authority, and glory or eternally differentiated in these aspects, a difference that may or may not reflect in human relations.

Book Review: Dennis R. Hollinger's The Meaning of Sex

Is there any inherent meaning in sexuality, or does sex simply mean whatever we intend it to mean in the moment? Dennis Hollinger, president of Gordan-Conwell Theological Seminary, insists that there is meaning in sexuality—several meanings, in fact, which guide Christian thought and practice.

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