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Priscilla Papers

We are very pleased to publish this expanded edition of Priscilla Papers in celebration of the journal’s twentieth anniversary. During the last twenty years, its biblical scholarship on equality in the church, home, and world has reached hundreds of college and seminary libraries and the homes of thousands of lay people, pastors, and ministry leaders around the world. Read more
First, some preliminary remarks about this sort of debate. I have read through some of CBE’s literature with great interest, but also with a sense that the way particular questions are posed and addressed reflects some particular American subcultures. I know a little about those subcultures—for instance, the battles over new Bible translations, some using inclusive language and others not. In my own church, the main resistance against equality in ministry comes, not so much from within the Evangelical right (though there is of course a significant element there), but from within the traditional Anglo-Catholic movement for whom Scripture has never been the central point of the argument, and indeed is often ignored altogether. Read more
Since the middle of the twentieth century there has been an ongoing, sometimes acrimonious debate over the meaning of “head” (Greek, kephalē) in Paul’s letters, especially 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23. The literature is extensive. The debate continues, but few have taken the time to read all the significant discussions or have access to the actual articles, much less the resources to critique such. This article is an attempt to review the most significant scholarly literature that has emerged in the debate and to summarize each without critique. The focus is narrow and should not be taken as a meta-study of the whole debate on male and female relations in the church, home, and world. Read more
I still wonder how it could have happened. During the twenty years that Priscilla Papers has been publishing, opponents of biblical equality have become so enamored with the idea of subordination that they want to make it part of God. I would not have believed it until I encountered the work of Kevin Giles, an Australian Anglican priest who is the most articulate critic of this strange development. In his new book, Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity (Zondervan, 2006), Giles shows how a whole generation of conservative evangelicals has embraced a new-fangled version of the ancient Trinitarian heresy of subordinationism. They do not hide their motives. They are determined to see in God what they wish to see in humanity: a subordination of role or function that does not compromise (they insist) an essential equality of being. Therefore, they teach that just as woman is created equal to man but has a subordinate role at home and in church, so the Son of God is coequal with the Father in being or essence but has a subordinate role in the work of salvation and in all eternity. They even think—quite mistakenly, as Giles shows—that this is what the Bible and Christian orthodoxy have always taught. Read more
Learning like a woman drawing from a well full of words finally drawn by the Word the difference between white-washed sepulchers and an empty tomb— Read more
The sixteenth chapter of Romans was treated as a detachable unit at least as early as the second century, showing that some considered it to be a tagalong compared with the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The oldest surviving manuscript of Romans, Chester Beatty Papyrus II, also known as Π, dating from the early third century, places the benediction of 16:25-27 between 15:33 and chapter 16. This leads some textual critics to conclude that Π46 had an antecedent that ended at chapter 15, since the final benediction was shifted to the end of that chapter. T. W. Manson went so far as to suggest that Paul’s original letter ended at chapter 15, and that what we call chapter 16 was added to a copy of the Roman letter and sent to Ephesus. When textual critics compare Π with other early manuscripts of Romans, there is clear evidence that in the second century, if not before, a fourteen-chapter version of the letter once circulated, composed of 1:1-14:23 plus 16:25-27. In this version, the final two chapters, which were tied to the circumstances in Paul’s life and the specific addressees of the letter, as well as the destination phrases (“in Rome”) in 1:7, 15, were omitted in order to make the letter more relevant for the church at large. Read more
The following article expresses my theology of leadership in Christian marriage. I write as a Christian theologian, an ordained clergywoman, a wife, and a mother. I write from my social location as an Anglo, middle-aged, middle-class, American woman. I write as someone who has endured much in order to answer God’s call, no small amount of it coming from those who would silence and subjugate women in the name of God. (I would gladly do it again, for God’s sake.) I write with gratitude for the faithfulness of God who calls us and equips us to bring love into this hurting world. More than anything, I write because I love the One who is Love. Read more
The Bible teaches that God created man and woman subordinate to God, spiritually and socially equal to each other, and entrusted to care for creation. However, man and woman were not content with this God-ordained order; they wanted power over God. In an act of deliberate disobedience, they replaced God with self, a choice that separated them from God and from each other. God’s redemptive plan is to restore human beings to a new relationship with God and with each other, referred to in this essay as right relationships. What are right relationships? How should Christians living under God’s reign endeavor to treat others all day every day? Read more
One source of tension between egalitarians and complementarians is the frequent complementarian claim that egalitarians are the theological descendents of radical feminists such as Betty Friedan, Mary Daly, and Daphne Hampson. This is inaccurate. Egalitarians in fact see mentors in people like Catherine Booth, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Frances Willard, A. J. Gordon, Katharine Bushnell, William Baxter Godbey, Amanda Smith, Fredrik Franson, Sojourner Truth, B. T. Roberts, and Pandita Ramabai. Our theological moorings, as egalitarians, are directly linked to the first wave of feminists—people whose passion for Scripture, evangelism, and justice shaped the golden era of missions in the 1800s. These people not only advanced the biblical basis for the gospel service of women and people of color, but many of them also labored for the abolition of slavery and for voting rights for women. Read more
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Book Review: Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life

When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe during the United States Civil War, he reportedly quipped, “So you’re the little woman who started this big war.” In Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life, Nancy Koester presents a biography of the famed author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that bounds with delight from page to page. The book is easily accessible to a popular audience and moves chronologically through her life and the lives of those closest to her, yet is thoroughly researched and offers rich sources for the interested academic.

Book Review: The Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters

"Woman's sphere is wider than we think and women's influence is perhaps stronger than we like to allow."—F. Digby Legard1

Book Review: Climbing the Dragon's Ladder

In a time when wealth and prosperity are more welcomed than the cost of discipleship, Climbing the Dragon's Ladder is a timely historical novel. No greater identification can be made about the cost involved in persevering as a Christian than identifying with a martyr such as Perpetua.

Book Review: Edwin Yamauchi's "Africa and the Bible"

2006-2007 president of the Evangelical Theological Society and long-time professor of History at Miami University (Ohio), Dr. Edwin Yamauchi is an outstanding scholar who has published extensively on Africa and the Near East, an interest that culminates in this landmark volume.

Book Review: Craig Keener's 1-2 Corinthians

Craig Keener's 1-2 Corinthians is a wonderfully engaging and easily read commentary on Paul's letters to the Corinthians. It is tightly packed with documented information from ancient sources on the historical/social/cultural setting of Corinth in Paul's time. This information enables the reader to understand more clearly the intentions behind Paul's letters to the Corinthians, underlining how the cultural emphasis on rhetoric in Paul's time shaped his writings.

Book Review: Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate by Michelle Lee-Barnewall

Increasingly, one of the latest reactions to the evangelical gender debate among some younger Christian women is “I am neither complementarian nor egalitarian,” inviting the reply: So, then, what are you? And, why do you respond in this way?

Book Review: Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God by John F. Kilner

In his book, Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, bioethicist John F. Kilner sketches the theological history of the image of God, critiques prominent viewpoints from this sketch, and offers a robust formulation of what it means to be in God’s image. Since the understanding of this theological doctrine has both dignified and vilified certain human beings, Kilner astutely asserts the importance of explicating this doctrine well.

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