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Priscilla Papers

Jesus and the New Testament authors everywhere assume that women are made in the divine image. By affirming the inherent worth of women, Jesus and the early church departed from the cultural norms of their day. This attitude engendered a sense of confidence and freedom in women that encouraged them to participate fully in Christian worship and ministry. Just as earlier God called Eve to inhabit and rule the Garden with Adam, now, through Christ, God gives women and men an opportunity to respond to the two highest callings imaginable as co-heirs of salvation (1 Pet 3:7) and co-laborers with Christ. Who are some of the women in the New Testament on whom the Lord particularly confers this honor? Read more
Reading biographies is inspiring and it was no less true in Biblical times as it is today. Replete with stories of men and women, the Bible demonstrates how God’s extraordinary plans unfold in the lives of ordinary people. God’s revelation takes on flesh and blood as we encounter Shiphrah and Puah, Jochebed, Miriam, Zipporah, Rahab, Abigail, Deborah, Huldah, as well as unnamed heroines. If we are eager to travel with them, their faith can encourage and bolster ours. Read more
Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....” Read more
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
I was having a discussion the other evening with a family in our church about the subject of women deacons. I said, “Well, Phoebe, of course, was a deacon.” Someone said, “Really? Are you sure? Not everyone believes that she was.” Read more
Priscilla: Christian, wife of a Jewish freedman, fellow worker with Paul, teacher of teachers, church planter — and author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (a letter whose writer’s name is mysteriously absent)? Was Priscilla one of the most successful teachers, evangelists, and writers in the early church? A survey of Priscilla’s ministry in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus reveals a woman whose abilities and life’s circumstances beg the question: Was it Priscilla who wrote Hebrews? 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

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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.

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.

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