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Priscilla Papers

Well-known New Testament scholar and friend of CBE International, Scot McKnight, in his Jesus Creed blog entry on July 19, 2016, mentions three measures of biblical “teaching about male-female relations.” One of the three is how often the Song of Songs is mentioned. Read more
Havilah Dharamraj
The Song abandons, even resists, the cultural accommodation that the rest of the OT makes to the male prerogative of jealousy within romantic love. This egalitarian ideal is amplified into the human-divine metaphor, offering the devotee a claim to the undivided affection of God, the same affection that he expects of his devotee. The Song looks forward to the ideal of lovers perfectly matched. Green eyes and all. Read more
Liz Gentry
“A sermon on Song of Solomon! But single people aren’t supposed to read that book!” This was my friend’s surprised and sarcastic reply as I told him I was working on this sermon. I laughed one of those rather somber “this is too real” kind of laughs, realizing the great irony of writing a sermon on a book that has had a painful history of being repressed or denied for those of us who are single. Read more
Regardless of its often-preached status through the centuries, I can count the number of sermons I have heard on this book on one hand. This is odd, in a sense, because in the conservative churches of my youth, marriage was expected, desired, and normative. But the romantic, even erotic voice of the Song was unwelcome on Sunday mornings. Sex was not a topic for the worship assembly, unless we were being reminded to save it for marriage. Sex was one of many dangers we were expected to “just say no” to, including especially serious matters such as drugs and alcohol, as well as other activities such as dancing and mixed gender swimming. Evidently the True Love Waits people had not read the Song’s explicit language closely enough to realize that both lovers are single. Read more
Christine Marchetti
The Song of Songs stands alone among the books of the Jewish and Christian canons as an unabashed exploration of sensual human love. Yet this interpretation was repressed for centuries, and the Song was instead read allegorically. Tremper Longman’s commentary notes evidence of early arguments that the Song deals with God’s relationship with humanity, and by AD 100, the allegorical interpretation was firmly established: Jews believed the poem reflects the relationship between God and Israel or between God and the individual soul; Christians followed suit, claiming the lovers’ romance symbolizes Christ’s love for the church. However, Cheryl Exum, Richard Hess, and Longman join a consensus of modern scholars who reject an allegorical interpretation, and they do so for similar reasons. Read more
Kirk MacGregor
This article maintains that the interpolation hypothesis sets a dangerous precedent for textual scholars who evaluate manuscripts, a precedent which would, albeit unintentionally, threaten the authenticity of many sound NT passages attested by the earliest relevant manuscripts but not by later manuscripts. Rather than following the interpolation hypothesis, this article argues that 1 Cor 14:33b–38 is best understood as Paul’s quotation and subsequent refutation of the Corinthian men’s position that women ought to be silent in the assemblies, a position which originated in the Judaizing faction of the church. Read more
Sara Barton
Because of the prevalence of traditional femininity ideologies that have subjugated women and shamed them for their sexuality, and because of unhealthy sexual narratives in our daily news, it is vital to teach an alternative spiritual narrative. The Song is an example of lovers who talk about sex and intimacy in a healthy mutual exchange. Women who are overcoming teaching, language, or experiences that have sexually disempowered them can be encouraged by the sensual and passionate Shulammite woman who takes initiative, for she seeks her lover, she is responsive to him, she wants intimacy, and she is intimate. Read more
Priscilla Papers was first published in January of 1987. The broader organization, Christians for Biblical Equality, followed about a year later. Thus 2017 is CBE International’s thirtieth anniversary and is being celebrated as a “Year of Jubilee.” This expanded issue of Priscilla Papers functions as part of this Jubilee celebration. In it you will find a compendium of evolving evangelical egalitarian thought stretching back to our beginning and beyond. Read more
Kari Torjesen Malcolm
For years I've loved the story about the Velveteen Rabbit who was preoccupied with her identity--whether she was real or not! Sitting among the toys in a child's room, she asks the skin horse about it, and gets the profound reply, "You are real when you are loved. When I was cuddled so much that I began to lose my skin, then I knew that I was real." Read more
I begin this discourse with a disclaimer, since the title suggests far more than one can deliver in a limited amount of space. It suggests far more knowledge about this topic than I actually have—indeed, it is safe to say that there is much more that we don’t know about these things than we actually do. What I hope to do is to offer a few probings into the cultural background of this passage—which has become such a crux for people on both sides of the issue of whether there is a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home, based on gender alone. Read more

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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.

Book Review: The Eternal Generation of The Son

This book addresses a topic within the Godhead that cuts across the lines of gender conviction and unites egalitarians and hierarchists on both sides of the debate. In this case, the topic is not whether a one-way eternal subordination of the Son to the Father exists in the Trinity, but whether the Son is begotten by the Father solely in the incarnation or throughout all eternity, always proceeding from the Father.

KeumJu Jewel Hyun and Cynthia Davis Lathrop's Some Men Are Our Heroes

As we journey through life, many of us will be able to recount key individuals who noticed our God-given gifts and potential. Those same individuals not only showed an interest from the sidelines, but they also took proactive measures to mentor us and abet us in pursuing God's dreams for our lives.

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