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Priscilla Papers

The cover photo shows an icon in which a group of church leaders display a rather large banner containing the opening lines of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of AD 381. Kevin Giles explains the Trinitarian Christology of this creed in the first article of this issue of Priscilla Papers.  Read more
There can be no denying that we have starkly opposing doctrines of the Trinity. Dr. Grudem and Dr. Ware argue on the basis of creaturely analogies for a hierarchically ordered Trinity where the Father rules over the Son, claiming this is historical orthodoxy and what the church has believed since AD 325. I argue just the opposite. On the basis of scripture, I argue that the Father and the Son are coequally God; thus the Father does not rule over the Son. This is what the church has believed since AD 325. You could not have two more opposing positions. There is no middle ground. Read more
Millard J. Erickson
For the past two decades, evangelical theologians have debated over one specific aspect of the relationship between members of the Trinity. One group insists that the Father is eternally the supreme member of the Trinity, necessarily and always possessing authority over the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are thus subordinate to him. The other view contends that the Son eternally possesses equal authority with the Father, but that for the period of his earthly ministry, he voluntarily became subject to the Father’s will. Similarly differing views are held regarding the authority of the Holy Spirit, although the discussion has not dealt extensively with the status of the third person. Both parties agree that all three persons are fully deity, and thus equal in what they are. Biblical, historical, philosophical and theological arguments have been presented on both sides, without reaching agreement. Whether or not the subordination itself is eternal, some have begun to wonder whether the debate over it might be. Read more
Many modern Western marriage rituals—from engagement, to the wedding ceremony, to post-union practices such as female surname change—are clearly patriarchal. Various customs, including engagement rings that act as modern dowries, separate wedding vows where the woman “loves, honors,  and obeys” and the man “loves, honors, and cherishes,” and unequal childrearing, create a system that oppresses women and subordinates them both within and outside of the home. The Christian ritual of marriage, however, redeems patriarchal marriage through emphasis on sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church1 and on covenant in Protestant denominations.2 Read more
Rosemary Hack
Evangelical Christians often fail to live up to the biblical standards to which they ascribe. Unconscious and inconsistent behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs (recognized and unrecognized) are ever-present. Though striving to follow Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, our behavior and attitudes fail to adequately represent Christ. This article addresses habitual abusive behavior perpetrated by professing Christian men (and sometimes women1) against women. Many of the men mentioned herein do not seem to think such abuse is inconsistent with their lives as Christians, and often as Christian leaders.2 Read more
Genesis 29:25 is one of the Bible’s more startling verses: “When morning came, there was Leah!” (NIV). Have you ever wondered how Jacob could not know—for the better part of a day and all of a night—that he had married Leah instead of Rachel? Surely several factors were at work, and just as surely one factor was Leah’s veil. This unusual event prompts my thinking: Much like the literal veiling of Leah caused her to be obscured and overlooked, the figurative veiling of many other biblical women sometimes hides them from our view. Read more
Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway, known for his concise language, once won a wager that he could tell a story in just six words. He then wrote on a napkin: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Whenever I share this story, invariably the audience fills in the gaps by positing a backstory which includes the baby’s death. One thing is clear—the story did not start at the beginning; it was told out of chronological order. Read more
The epistle to Philemon begins, “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker” (NRSV). Paul and Timothy then also address “Apphia the sister” (Apphia tē adelphē). Throughout the multitude of commentaries on Philemon, one struggles to find a helpful description of this mysterious woman. The standard volumes concerning the evangelical gender debate rarely mention Apphia, and both hierarchical and egalitarian perspectives have done little to explore her identity. Specifically, the lack of detailed research regarding Apphia’s status may be due to the fact that, unlike other women in the NT, she is not given a now-controversial title (cf. “deacon” in Rom 16:1–2 or “apostle” in Rom 16:7). Also potentially at play is the tendency of readers to miss something they are not looking for: because Apphia is not contested ground in the evangelical gender debate, it makes sense that a work exploring her identity has been missing. In contrast, most of the detailed work on Paul’s relationship with Apphia is not by evangelical scholars. Read more
Luke 1:46–55 is both a beautiful hymn sung to glorify God and an interpretive puzzle. This text, widely known as the Magnificat, is one of several songs Luke uses at a crucial moment in the birth narratives in order for characters to explain the amazing ways in which God is moving. Luke includes it in his narrative to foreshadow the ministry of reversal Jesus will bring, first to Israel and eventually to all people. It is a praise hymn made up of a combination of OT allusions—more specifically, allusions to the Greek translation of the OT commonly referred as the Septuagint and abbreviated LXX. What follows is a study of the LXX allusions that combine to make up this praise hymn—allusions which have the cumulative effect of presenting Mary as a key character in the continuation of God’s OT promises and plan. Read more
Without question, women are more prominent in Luke’s writings than in any of the other three Gospel writers. The interpretation of their presence, however, is contested. In recent years, significant attention has been given to the role the women play in the narratives of Luke and Acts. The silence of their voices after the first few chapters of Luke makes one commentator label it, “an extremely dangerous text, perhaps the most dangerous in the Bible.” Can we read Luke as promoting the participation of women in the newly inaugurated Christian community? Or are women present but, after the Gospel prologue, relegated increasingly to silent supportive roles through the rest of Luke’s Gospel and Acts? While Mary sings solo, must Priscilla and others be drowned out by a male choir? Read more

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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."

Book Review: Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches by Dr. Dan Doriani

Dr. Dan Doriani, Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary and Senior Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo., has written Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches in order to provide a biblical defense for traditional churches that exclude women from official teaching and leadership offices within their congregations. However, his other objective in writing this book is to show that change is necessary. The tradition governing men's and women's ministries in the church can—indeed must—be stretched beyond its current boundaries.

Book Reviews: Women in the Church

Carroll Osburn's second edition of Women in the Church is a welcome contribution to the ongoing conversation on this topic, and he has reworked the book to take advantage of new developments and research. It feels like a textbook, but nonstudents will still glean valuable insights.

Book Review: Women of Influence: Women of Devotion Through the Centuries

Cheryl Forbes's first book, released in 1983 when she held a managerial position at Zondervan, was titled The Religion of Power. As that title suggests, she holds strong views. "At a certain point, a Christian must say no to maneuvers and manipulations, to politics and pretendings."

Book Review: Feminist Theology Through the Ages: Why We're Equal

Val Webb, adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota and author of four books, including In Defense of Doubt, has written an engaging, readable, and mostly historical approach to feminist theology. Her thesis is straightforward and often restated: "The goal of this book is to look at the diversity of the feminist movement and show how limited and inaccurate negative stereotyping is" (p. 3; also see pp. 9, 12, 47).

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