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Priscilla Papers

In recent years many writers have been reminding the church of the exemplary women who have held positions of authority and power in the Bible as rulers, prophets and martyrs. Deborah certainly has been often mentioned as a faithful ruler, a judge, prophet, and a military strategist. Under this “mother of Israel,” the Hebrews had rest for 40 years (Judges 4-5). Wisdom was personified as a woman elder in Proverbs 8. The wise woman of Abel speaking for her people saved her city, “a mother in Israel” (2 Samuel 20:16). Read more
People say that black is beautiful, and I believe it. I think the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen on a human being was that of a young Ethiopian woman. She had been imprisoned eleven times for her participation in evangelistic and church activities, and every time she got out, she just went right on proclaiming Christ. When she would tell how the young people were marched off to jail, with their hands uplifted, singing and praising God, her face would shine. I saw there a beauty I have never seen anywhere else. The Bible says very clearly that black is beautiful (Song of Solomon 1:5). But as I studied the black persons mentioned in Scripture more carefully, I found another message—the Bible implies that black is blessed. Not that being black automatically makes you blessed, but these people had an unusual way of reaching out to God—finding Him as their own, embracing Him and His ways, committing themselves to the truth of the Gospel. And God blessed them. Read more
In chapter 3 of his first letter, Peter draws an analogy between Christian wives of the first century and the Old Testament matriarch Sarah. This directive (1 Peter 3:5–6) subsequently has been used to support the view that, universally, every woman “should submit to her husband as she submits to the Lord.” On the other hand, some scholars hold that this passage simply “reinforc[es a] dominant patriarchal system and phallocentric mindset” and should be rejected altogether as oppressive to women. How are we to understand Peter’s charge? Is this a universal, divinely inspired mandate for hierarchical marriage relationships? Or is Peter hopelessly patriarchal and irrelevant? In fact, Peter’s rhetoric points to an entirely different conclusion: Peter advocates qualified submission to non-Christians in order to be a witness for Christ’s self-sacrifice. Read more
Considered the most influential woman affiliated with the Welsh Revivals (1904–05) and earlier the Keswick Conventions (1875–1910), Jessie Penn-Lewis (1861–1927) distinguished herself as a writer, speaker, and advocate of women’s public ministry. A cru­cicentrist of the highest order, Penn-Lewis’s egalitarian theol­ogy grew out of her understanding of Christ’s completed work on Calvary. For Penn-Lewis, the cross provides not only forgive­ness for sin (redemption), but also victory over sin and preju­dice (sanctification). Crucicentrists like Penn-Lewis celebrated the social consequences of Calvary that included unity and rec­onciliation, not only between men and women, but also among individuals once hostile to one another. Thus, Penn-Lewis’s sote­riology (what she understood about the work of Christ) shaped her egalitarian ecclesiology (what she understood about the work of the church). She promoted this view through her writings and leadership initially within the early Keswick Conventions and ul­timately within evangelical circles around the world. Read more
Throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century, women be­gan to enter the seminaries of the United States in record num­bers. Upon graduation, many sought ordination and have served well in various ministry positions for many years. These same women now find themselves sitting on empty nests, entrenched in the “good old boys” network that makes up much of the patri­archal church structure, encountering a variety of “stained-glass ceilings,” and wondering if this is where they belong. Read more
The topic of gender and justice in the New Testament raises two preliminary questions: First, what modern sense of “justice” and of “gender” is closest to the intent of New Testament writers, and, second, how was gender related to justice in Greco-Roman soci­ety? How we answer these two questions should reveal the rela­tive role of cultural expectations in relation to transcultural ideals the New Testament envisages. Read more
It is no secret that the vast majority of the voices that speak to us from the days of the early church are male. Early church history is filled with stories of famous martyr-bishops such as Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. a.d. 107–8), Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. a.d. 156), and Cyprian of Carthage (d. a.d. 258). In addition to these un­forgettable personages, there is also no lack of male evangelists, apologists, and theologians whose views are readily available for anyone who has the time and desire to read them. As an early church historian, I would hardly dissuade anyone from taking up such a task. However, it saddens me that the stories of women, who surely must have made up at least fifty percent of the early church population, go largely untold. Read more
In the time of Herod, king of Judea, a young Jewish girl gave birth to a child who would change the course of history. What is men­tioned of her in Scripture is significant, yet, throughout the cen­turies, the identity and person of Mary has been elaborated upon by Catholics and often overlooked by Protestants. The biblical Mary was a woman who is to be revered not only for her faith in God, but also for what God accomplished through her. However, the metamorphosis of Mary’s identity from humble Jewish girl to semi-divine Mother of God was born out of the tradition of the medieval church, not the Scriptures. Read more
The Bible does not allow gender to be a criterion for eligibility for any office or function in the church. Although in the Semitic/Hebrew culture the subordination of women to men was probably universal, and although there were no early explicit divine prohibitions against female subordination, the climax of special divine revelation in the New Testament repudiates such subordination and teaches the full equality of women and men. This equality is wrongly compromised when gender is made a criterion for church office. In support of the foregoing, the following theses are offered: Read more
Romans 16:3-4) One of the church’s outstanding Bible expositors was St. John Chrysostom (died A.D. 407). He preached consistently through the Scriptures, and many of his sermons are still extant. Here, for the first time in English, is his first sermon on Priscilla and Aquila. Translated from the Greek, by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Ph.D., CBE President, author, and classical scholar. Read more

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Book Review: Man and Woman, One in Christ

The research of Philip Payne is exceedingly important for all who are concerned about justice for women. Over the years, gifted women and those who support their cause have treasured the work of Dr. Payne—each of his articles, presentations at learned conferences, and accessible Bible studies. Year in and year out, he has been there for us, by his patient handling of Scripture authenticating the legitimacy of women in ministry.

Book Review: The ESV Study Bible

Christianity Today (March 2009) 21 reports the ESV Study Bible sold 100,000 copies prior to its release. Its goals are admirable: "Within that broad tradition of evangelical orthodoxy, the notes have sought to represent fairly the various evangelical positions on disputed topics" (11). "Emphasizing word-for-word accuracy . . . it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original . . .

Book Review: Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes is appropriate for laypeople who are motivated to study the Bible, as well as pastors and scholars. Kenneth Bailey intentionally writes in a way that those outside of the circle of scholarly discussion can hear and apply some of the important insights and contributions that emerge from the dialogue. He is well qualified as an author, lecturer, and emeritus research professor of Middle Eastern New Testament studies for the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. He lived in the Middle East for sixty years.

Book Review: William and Aída Spencer and Steve and Celestia Tracy's Marriage at the Crossroads

Many of us have longed for a sane, nuanced conversation around differing viewpoints on gender issues in marriage. The Spencers and Tracys have given us that conversation in this fine book. This is not a debate pitting egalitarian against complementarian and vice versa. This is a genuine conversation in which each couple has laid out their beliefs about the nature of Christian marriage, issues of headship and submission, marital roles and decision making, and, finally intimacy.

Book Review: Margaret Köstenberger's Jesus and the Feminists

How would feminists answer Jesus' question: "Who do you say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15). This is an intriguing question raised by Margaret Köstenberger (adjunct professor of women's studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Book Review: Mignon R. Jacob's Gender, Power, and Persuasion

In Gender, Power, and Persuasion, Mignon Jacobs examines the ancient Genesis narratives with fresh insight and clarity. She weaves together both a faithful identification of key texts and a modern "multicritical" analysis of those texts. Indeed, this book is particularly relevant for egalitarians looking for different methodologies to address the gender issues of the familiar Genesis stories.

Book Review: Laceye Warner's Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice

The church's patriarchal past (and present) is notorious for hiding and diluting the work of women for the kingdom of God. Laceye C. Warner removes the shadow from the evangelistic work of seven women from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in her book Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice. Dr. Warner is the associate dean for academic formation and associate professor of the practice of evangelism and Methodist studies at Duke Divinity School.

Book Review: Margaret English's Removing the Veil

Removing the Veil was written to affirm the place of women in God's economy. Author Margaret English gives special attention to the subject of women in ministry and maintains that women should be permitted full participation in ministry on an equal basis with men. The author draws from Scripture, her own personal testimony, and facts from church history as she presents evidence in support of equality in ministry. Anyone interested in the subject of women in ministry might read this book, but it was written with pentecostal/charismatic women in mind.

Book Review: Jackson Katz's The Macho Paradox

Violence against women is an ugly reality in our fallen world. And the more one studies this subject and the more one listens to women, the uglier it gets. This makes The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help a particularly welcome addition to the literature on male violence against women. Jackson Katz, a well-respected "anti-sexist male activist" and national leader in gender violence prevention, tackles this subject with candor, yet hope.

Book Review: Kristina LaCelle-Peterson's Liberating Tradition

Kristina LaCelle-Peterson writes a compelling outline of Christian feminism that serves as a valuable tool for the average evangelical seeking more refined and informed thinking about gender from a biblical perspective. The book's title hints at its ambitious purpose: to liberate evangelicals from cultural trappings that have misdirected our reading of Scripture, our family structures, and our models of church participation.

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