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Priscilla Papers

There has been, and continues to be, a great deal of confusion, consternation, and perhaps grief, over the meaning of the Greek word kephalē (“head”) in the NT. Some claim that the word means “source”; others claim that it means “authority over”; still others have different ideas regarding the meaning of this Greek word. A great deal of ink has been spilled defending this or that position while attacking the others, yet the debate continues. There are many issues related to the understanding of words in general (semantics), and to kephalē in particular, that have either been ignored, downplayed, or misconstrued by various proponents of the meaning of kephalē in the NT. Essentially, traditionalists argue that kephalē means “authority over” whereas egalitarians argue that the meaning of this Greek word is “source.” Authors on both sides of this debate have committed errors in the form of arguments used, in the method of semantic analysis, as well as in the citation of their primary Greek sources. In this article, I will review some general principles of semantic analysis and some other related background issues which bear on the meaning of kephalē in the NT. I will also discuss how the Septuagint (the translation of the Hebrew OT into Greek in the third to second centuries BC) and some other Greek authors (notably Plato, Plutarch, and Philo) have been misappropriated in the discussion of kephalē. Because there are so many various passages in Greek literature which have been invoked as “proof” for this or that side in the debate, I cannot possibly review them all. Rather, I have selected only certain passages for discussion in order to illustrate the points I wish to make. Read more
A common theme in biblical narrative and prophetic literature is that God aligns with those whom Walter Brueggemann calls the “dispossessed, that is, those denied land, denied power, denied place or voice in history.” The dispossessed can also be defined as those who do not receive an inheritance, or who do not receive an inheritance unless someone else acts on their behalf. Thus, in an ironic twist, God ensures that it is the dispossessed who become the heirs, the meek who inherit the earth (cf. Matt 5:5). Read more
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil 4:2–3 NRSV) Read more
Dismayed and confused by constant concerns about safety for girls and exclusion of women from church leadership, Faith Martin began a journey searching for theological developments regarding such demeaning views of women. Other studies of women in the church, such as Ruth Tucker and Walter Liefeld’s Daughters of the Church, reveal a consistent disparagement of women since the third century. Interpretations of NT household codes favoring male authority have often been cited to support such practices. These interpretations bear two kinds of illusions. One implies that church membership is predominantly male. The more serious concern is that presumptions of superiority and inferiority contradict the gospel message of love and grace, the good news of setting the oppressed free. Therefore, a proper theological hermeneutic of the NT household codes demands the inclusion of cultural dimensions. Read more
This issue of Priscilla Papers begins the journal’s thirtieth year! The first issue, winter of 1987, opened with an article by Kari Torjesen Malcolm. Additional authors included Alvera Mickelsen and Catherine Clark Kroeger, CBE’s founding president. Other early leaders of CBE included James Alsdurf, James Beck, Gilbert Bilezikian, Diane Chynoweth, Betty Elliott, W. Ward Gasque, Stan Gundry, Ruth Hall, Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Richard Kroeger, Deborah Olsoe Lunde, Jo Anne Lyon, Faith Martin, Alice Mathews, Susan McCoubrie, Dorothy Meyer, Berkeley Mickelsen, Roger Nicole, Nancy Graf Peters, and Betty Shunk. Disturbed by the shallow biblical premise used to exclude the gifts of women, such leaders determined that a national organization was needed to promote biblical equality. Thus CBE was established on January 2, 1988, about a year after Priscilla Papers first went to press. Read more
This article is a philosophical reflection on dowry and how it bears on burial disputes among the Luo people of East Africa. Part one offers preliminary remarks to convey my position on dowry. Part two describes the implications of dowry on the burial dispute of a Luo woman named Veronica, as a way of illustrating the far-reaching effects of the dowry system. I have utilized Bernard Lonergan’s Transcendental Method in my thought process about dowry. This method is derived from Lonergan’s cognitional theory—experiencing, understanding my experience, judging the understanding of my experience, willingness to act informed by the judgment of the understanding of my experience, and finally leading to intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. In our efforts to raise consciousness about dowry, we can transpose the method into an invitation to engage in the following five imperatives: be attentive, be intelligent, be reasonable, be willing, and be loving in our discourse on dowry and its long term implications. Read more
The perception in evangelical church culture persists that one of our primary goals as a church is to create good, healthy, safe, Christian families. Sure, we might have singles’ ministries in our churches, but even those are usually designed to help singles meet each other! It is no small secret that the ultimate goal of some singles’ ministries leaders is to work themselves out of a job. Consider this note that I received from a friend after discussing this topic with him: Read more
Dowry, or bride-wealth payment, is a widespread practice in many African societies. In traditional African societies bride-wealth had some positive aspects but mostly negative consequences, for it stands at the foundation of patriarchy. In traditional African societies, bride-wealth was related to goods and services that a bridegroom and his kinsmen transferred to the family of the bride. Traditionally, this transfer involved the delivery of livestock by a suitor to the father or family of his prospective bride Read more
For many Seventh-day Adventists (SDA), July 8, 2015, will go down in history as the Second Great Disappointment. For those not familiar with Seventh-day Adventist history, the first Great Disappointment occurred on October 22, 1844, when Jesus did not return, as some had predicted he would. This time, the issue was not the return of Jesus, but the culmination of a long, hard-fought campaign for equal treatment of women in the ministries of the denomination. Read more
Judges 19 contains a seldom read, let alone studied or discussed, story of misogyny, subjugation, rape, murder, and dismemberment. Determining how to handle such atrocities in the Bible makes texts such as these difficult to address. More than thirty years ago, Phyllis Trible labeled Judg 19 as one of the “texts of terror” in the Hebrew Bible (along with the stories of Hagar, Tamar, and the daughter of Jephthah). Texts of terror tend to be avoided unless the reader can clearly separate the perpetrators of evil in the text from themselves. David Garber and Daniel Stallings have argued that the church must stop ignoring sexually explicit texts “because the story of the Levite’s concubine and the brutality contained therein speak vividly to issues of sexual violence that persist to this day. The silencing of sexually explicit biblical texts in American churches mirrors the silencing of issues of sexual violence in contemporary society.” This article will begin with a look at various approaches to exegesis of this text and then seek to show that we cannot exempt ourselves from this text of terror in light of its application to the twenty-first century problem of human trafficking, especially sex trafficking. Read more

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Book Review: Jackson Katz's The Macho Paradox

Violence against women is an ugly reality in our fallen world. And the more one studies this subject and the more one listens to women, the uglier it gets. This makes The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help a particularly welcome addition to the literature on male violence against women. Jackson Katz, a well-respected "anti-sexist male activist" and national leader in gender violence prevention, tackles this subject with candor, yet hope.

Book Review: Kristina LaCelle-Peterson's Liberating Tradition

Kristina LaCelle-Peterson writes a compelling outline of Christian feminism that serves as a valuable tool for the average evangelical seeking more refined and informed thinking about gender from a biblical perspective. The book's title hints at its ambitious purpose: to liberate evangelicals from cultural trappings that have misdirected our reading of Scripture, our family structures, and our models of church participation.

Book Review: Aída Besançon Spencer, William David Spencer, and Mimi Haddad's Global Voices on Biblical Equality

Global Voices on Biblical Equality opens with a poem To Prisca and Aquila, which ends, "Gemstones of God, buried in stony, multicultural mines." This book is about "gemstones of God," women ministering together with men in the church worldwide.

Book Review: David Bailey's Speaking the Truth in Love

"Roger and Annette Nicole . . . form a partnership to which anyone might point to illustrate the egalitarianism of men and women together that Roger so implacably defends" (ix), writes J. I. Packer in his introduction to Dr. David Bailey's delightful biography of CBE cofounder and evangelical statesperson Roger Nicole. In his preface, Roger explains that he allowed the author, who is a pastor, professor, and director of the Orlando Center of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, to write his biography in order "to emphasize the footsteps of God Himself in the path of my life" (xv).

Book Review: Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Christine D. Pohl's Living on the Boundaries

In 2006, some senior women faculty at Calvin College were inspired by the film Calendar Girls, a lightly fictionalized account of an improbable fundraising device by a group of middle-aged Britons in a rural Women's Institute. The Englishwomen decided to pose in discreetly suggestive ways (featuring food, flowers, and fancy hats) for a calendar, which ended up selling so widely and so well that it raised almost $1 million for the cancer ward of a local hospital.

Book Review: Glen Scorgie's The Journey Back to Eden

One scholar stated, "You can't learn something you think you already know." In light of this proposal, Dr. Glen G. Scorgie's book on relational harmony between men and women will enlighten only those who do not think they already have the right answer. The book is for those who hold Scripture in highest regard while also admitting that many issues, including gender issues, are not presented in clear black-and-white answers.

Book Review: Carrie A. Miles's The Redemption of Love

Carrie Miles' well-written book should be read by all who cherish the institution of marriage and wish to understand (and stem) its decline. Miles, who has a PhD from the University of Chicago, is associate director of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture. Using the tools of socioeconomic analysis, her book explores two large questions: (1) What biblical norms should anchor marriage and family in every time and place? and (2) What material forces either support or undermine people's ability to live up to those norms?

Book Review: Royce Gruenler's The Trinity in the Gospel of John

The 2005 appearance of Bruce Ware's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance marks a bold attempt to put subordinationist claims before the Evangelical Church in a popular and accessible form. Professor Ware writes:

Book Review: The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate

Have you heard the claim that relationships between men and women should image the "eternal subordination" in the Trinity? If so, read this book. With a profound, concise course in Trinitarian theology and hermeneutics, using two case studies to exemplify points, The Trinity & Subordinationism is highly recommended.

Book Reviews: Cultural of Analysis: Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals

William J. Webb's Slaves, Women and Homosexuals is a hermeneutical tour de force. Webb severs ties with traditional hermeneutical textbooks by offering intra-scriptural and extra­scriptural criteria and a case study approach (akin to W. M. Swartley's Slavery, Sabbath, War & Women) rather than a step-by-step methodology.

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