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Priscilla Papers

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
If we all approach the text of Scripture, each having his or her own framework of understanding (even when we share a view of the Bible that it is inerrant and true in all it affirms and teaches), is there any hope that we can ever reach a “correct” or “objectively valid” interpretation,1 especially on passages that are so sensitive as those that deal with the place and privilege of women in the body of Christ today? Surely, no one particular set of presuppositions is to be favored in and of itself over any other set of presuppositions as the proper preparation for understanding a text. And no one starts with a tabula rasa, a blank mind. So does this mean we are hopelessly deadlocked with no possibility for a resolution? Read more
Human beings begin to develop gender identities very early in life as they pick up on cues and clues given off from the sociocultural contexts in which they find themselves. As people and institutions demonstrate socially appropriate ways of being male or female, children become apprentices and learn what it means to be a boy or girl in their culture. Read more
Where and how we start in our interpretation of Scripture determines where we will end up. When seeking to understand the relevance of the Bible’s teaching for our lives, interpretive starting points are particularly significant. The method by which we read and derive meaning from Scripture is the fundamental determinant of the nature of the meaning we will derive. Read more

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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.

Tim and Anne Evan's Real Life Marriage

Real-Life Marriage: It's Not About Me is coauthored by Tim and Anne Evans, a longtime married couple involved in Christian marriage counseling for many years. The Colorado authors open and close their book with an appealing image: "Marriage is a lot like climbing a mountain" (345). This image not only sets the tone of the book, but implies its purpose and invites a diverse audience.

Book Review: John Zen's No Will of My Own

This small book (75 pages) elucidates a great present-day adversary to biblical justice and equality: patriarchy. The book is written for the Body of Christ. It is the wish of the author to bring consciousness of the subject to church membership and leadership alike. The view here presented is that patriarchy is not merely uncomfortable for some women, but toxic and dangerous to all men and women in the faith.

Book Review: Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed

Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed is a spellbinding book. My reflections, as I read it, revolved around three separate but related themes—marriage, mutuality, and "healing through meeting." We all see the stories others tell about their lives through the prism of our own. I am no exception. I have been married for fifty years this summer to Ron Sider. Since the late 1970s, we have used, as a guide in our marriage, a Christ-centered hermeneutic of biblical equality.

Book Review: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen's A Sword Between the Sexes? C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates

It is interesting that we feel as if we know an author because we have read and appreciated many of his or her books. In my case, I have read and enjoyed numerous writings by British author C. S. Lewis, yet I have never fully understood many of his views. Certainly, over years of reading his fantasy fiction and his classic works of Christian apologetics, I noticed his distinct (and puzzling) attitude toward women, but I never really gave his attitudes deep consideration. I was less familiar with his life story, his education, his youth, his marriage, or his worldview.

Book Review: Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity

I am very happy to have this opportunity to recommend strongly Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity? An Assessment of the Subordination Debate to the readers of Priscilla Papers and to the wider evangelical community in generaL Erickson's book addresses two areas of vital importance to the church: the doctrine of the Trinity and the role of women in the church and family.

Book Review: Curtiss Paul DeYoung's Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century

In Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century: The Bible's Message in an Age of Diversity, Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes a foundational work about the necessity of diversity in developing a holistic Christian theology of community. This book reengages questions introduced in the first publication of Coming Together more than a decade ago. DeYoung uses the Scriptures as a tool of liberation while highlighting historic ways they have been used oppressively as tools of Western thought and colonialism.

Book Review: Women, Ministry, and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms

This fine collection of essays draws upon papers presented at a Wheaton College Theology Conference in April 2005. While they all merit reading and pondering, four struck me as particularly noteworthy: those by I. Howard Marshall, Fredrick J. Long, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, and Timothy Larsen. At the same time, with one or two exceptions, the articles break less new ground than the phrase New Paradigms in the subtitle suggests.

Book Review: The TNIV Study Bible

I am so thankful Zondervan has decided to publish the TNIV Study Bible. When the Today's New International Version first was published in the United States, I asked one Zondervan editor if they would ever print the NIV Study Bible with the TNIV text. The answer was, "Maybe. Let's wait and see."

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