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Priscilla Papers

Lucy Peppiatt
It is clear that 1 Cor 11:2–16, in which vv. 7–10 have a pivotal position, has functioned through the ages to control not only how the church perceives the role of men and women in worship, but more fundamentally how the church perceives the relations of man and woman to one another, to Christ, to God, and even to angels. This passage touches on crucial questions of creation and the nature of God, thus serving as key to understanding God’s relation to the world. It is incumbent upon interpreters, therefore, to seek as much clarity as possible when attempting to fathom these verses. Read more
Kirsten Guidero
Evangelicalism can find a foothold in renewed practices of reading Scripture. This article first illustrates the larger problems haunting evangelical patterns of reading Scripture by analyzing as a test case two prevalent evangelical interpretations of Gal 3:26–29.2 Next, I offer a better interpretive method and spell out how it treats this passage. We will see that, far from viewing the biblical texts too reverently, with a proposed correction of qualifying textual authority—an approach some evangelicals who struggle with difficult elements of Scripture have adopted—both of the earlier approaches may fail to respect the text enough. Read more
The theme of this issue of Priscilla Papers is Bible Translation. We featured this same theme four years ago, in the spring of 2015, but it is an important topic and worthy of considerable attention. The opening article is appropriately titled, “The Power of Bible Translation.” Author Aloo Mojola draws on his extensive experience as a Bible translator in eastern Africa. He offers insightful perspectives on the nature of Bible translation, including discussions of grammatical gender and the challenge of translating references to God. Read more
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
Romans 16:7 presents two interpretive issues. First, was the person named Iounian, the form of the name in Rom 16:7, a man or a woman? Second, what is the meaning of episēmoi en tois apostolois: was Iounian counted as “highly regarded among the apostles” or only “highly regarded by the apostles”? This article serves two main purposes: First, to summarize in one place the arguments regarding Junia’s sex and apostleship. Second, to update the data relating to these arguments, especially regarding the several English Bible translations made available since scholars such as Bernadette Brooten, Linda Belleville, and Eldon Epp brought the issue to the fore. Over the last few decades, many Bible translations have been published and older ones revised to improve accuracy, replace obsolete words, correct translation errors, or appeal to different audiences. These newer translations, along with a careful examination of the historical record, provide conclusive evidence that Junia was indeed a female apostle. 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
Introducing Kirk MacGregor’s article, Priscilla Papers editor Jeff Miller affirms “a central purpose of academic journals—to foster scholarly discussion and thereby move toward the truth of important and difficult matters.”1 First Corinthians 14 contains the only passage in the Bible that at face value silences women or restricts their ministry in the churches. It is important for all who believe what Scripture teaches to understand the truth about this passage. Neither the position I advocate, that 14:34–35 is a reader-added marginal comment (“gloss”), nor MacGregor’s position, that 14:33b–35 quotes the Corinthian men’s position that Paul then refutes, attributes the silencing of women to Paul. This does not mean, however, that either position should be accepted without adequate evidence. Read more
Hannah was unseen, she was unknown, she was taunted, and I believe, even depressed. She lived under the societal pressure to fit into this role of motherhood, something she had little or no control over. As we walk with Hannah, we are going to see how she encounters and discovers who God says she is. This is a message not just for moms or women, but for all of us. Every single day of our lives, we are asked to fit into a certain shape, but we don’t always fit the mold. If we listen closely, we will be able to identify with Hannah in her struggle to figure out who she is. Read more
The research resulting in this article focuses on evangelical churches in New Zealand, examining both the practice and content of their pre-marriage counselling sessions. Two competing visions of marriage relations—egalitarianism and complementarianism—representing different interpretations of the Bible are embedded within Christian pre-marriage counselling discourse. Here, sociological research and theology intersect. This article examines how differing interpretations of Scripture shape marriage advice given to engaged couples. The study’s interview participants, whose pseudonyms are John, Stephen, William, Sharon, and married couple Ron and Shivani, are leaders who facilitate pre-marriage counselling within their evangelical churches. Read more
While imperfect and even contradictory at times, the church of the first five centuries helped define women’s sense of self, integrating their understanding of sexuality and marriage with the redemptive work of Christ in their own lives and communities, thus encouraging them to contribute to the work of the church. Read more

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Book Review: The Private War of Mrs. Packard

Every time discouragement sets in because of the slow progress of egalitarian ideas, we ought to be able to reach over our shoulders and pull from the shelf a book such as Sapinsley's. The story of Mrs. Packard (1816-1897), set in the American midwest, should remind all of us how much has been accomplished by our forebears.

Book Review: No Time for Silence

Chosen as one of ETERNITY magazine's best books of the year in 1987, this book encourages women to use their gifts fully in proclaiming the Gospel. Dr. Hassey presents the significant contributions made by American women engaged in public ministry in past years, and who were enthusiastically supported by such institutions as Moody Bible Institute. She writes, 'The earliest Bible conferences welcomed women preachers and Bible teachers . . .

Book Review: Building Your Family to Last

The secret of building families to last is found in Kari's emphasis on parents modelling the Christian life before their children. If the mother and father— who are responsible before God for what happens in the home—are not walking with God, and not walking in harmony with each other before God, how can they become models to their children? Hence this modelling has to start with choosing a life partner with the same foundation in life and faith and loving obedience to Jesus Christ.

Book Review: Is God the Only Reliable Father?

This small, highly provocative book by a staff associate for the General Assembly Mission Board, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has surprising premises and conclusions, worthy of the careful attention of pastors and serious students of the Bible. Tennis pleads with readers not to abandon the imagery and language of God the Father. Her conclusion is not surprising—but some of her reasons are.

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.

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