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Priscilla Papers

One God with Three Faces: Yauh, Jesu,Great Spirit; hear my prayer for my daughter, whom you have given me. Read more
What does it mean to be founders of a nation chosen by God? Power? Privilege? Pride? Jacob’s blessing of his first four sons, recorded in Genesis 49:1-12, paints a different picture of God’s ideal. This article will trace themes of alienation and identification to show that the integrity of the sons of Israel is challenged and ultimately identified by the voice—or the lack of voice—of a grieving concubine (Gen. 35:16-22), a disgraced sister (Gen. 34), and a widowed daughter-in-law (Gen. 38). Read more
When God speaks in the Bible, it is with authority—and this is no less the case when God speaks through women. Sometimes it is privately through ordinary women like the matriarch Rebekah (Gen. 25:25) or the young woman Mary of Nazareth (Luke 1:26-38). Elsewhere, women serve as public heralds of Israel’s deliverance (Ps. 68:11, Isa. 40:9), and later of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 24:1-12). In the book of Proverbs, the very wisdom of God is personified as a woman who calls the foolish to repentance and the wise to obedience. She also provides an idealized model for a person of wisdom as the “woman of valor” in the poem that King Lemuel’s mother taught him (Prov. 31). And throughout biblical history, the official “thus saith the Lord” of the prophets is heard through courageous women like Miriam in the exodus from Egypt (Exod. 15:20-21,Mic. 6:4), Deborah during the era of the judges (Judg. 4-5), Huldah at the time of the kingdom’s fall (2 Kings 22:14-20, 2 Chron. 34:22-28), as well as the New Testament examples of Anna (Luke 2:36), Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9), the unnamed women who prayed and prophesied at Corinth (1 Cor. 11), and the prophesying daughters of Israel in the last days announced by the prophet Joel (Joel 2) and celebrated by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). Read more
In recent years, much discussion has centered upon the role of women disciples as they encounter the person of Jesus. The word “disciple” (mathētēs), related to the verb “learn, study, practice” (manthanō), means “the one who directs his mind to something,” often in the sense of a learner, apprentice, or pupil. In the Greek philosophical world, the term designated a devotee of a philosopher, one who would continue the intellectual link with the teacher (adherent). While many argue for exclusively male disciples due to the fact that Jesus’ twelve disciples were all male, we can respond that all disciples were also Jewish. This, then, leads to the important question of implication: Does this mean that all Gentile disciples through the ages, male and female, are to be excluded from participatory discipleship? Certainly not! 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
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
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

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Book Review: Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and Pauline Communities

I was very pleased to be asked to review Bruce Winter's book on women in first century Roman society and the Pauline churches. Bruce and I studied together at Moore Theological College in Sydney in the mid-1960s. He went on to complete a doctorate at Macquarie University, Sydney, and is now the warden at Tyndale House Cambridge. Bruce's scholarship shines through in this work. He is completely conversant with Greek and Latin texts from the first century and makes excellent use of them.

Book Review: Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life

Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life, by Oregon State University sociology professor Sally K. Gallagher, is a detailed study of evangelical attitudes toward gender and the family. Although many CBE members will be familiar with the basic issues summarized in part I of the book, there remains much to be learned from part II, where Gallagher reviews and interprets results from a major survey of American evangelicals.

Book Review: A Theology of Women: Men and Women in the Church

Sarah Sumner writes an apologetic that is especially helpful to dissatisfied complementarians who do not want to see themselves as "feminists." She wants the Christian community to function as the family of God, where women are mothers in the church and men are fathers in the church, both fulfilling their design to usher in God's reign.

Book Review: How Religious Women View Feminism: God Gave Us the Right

In this carefully done ethnographic study, religion professor Christel Manning offers an intriguing assessment of the lives and beliefs of women in conservative religious traditions today. Manning surveys and assesses responses to feminist social values and the secular feminist movement by women in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, a charismatic evangelical church, and a Catholic parish with a fairly large conservative constituency.

Book Review: God As Mother: A Translator's Challenge: The Bible in Cross Cultural Perspective

Jacob A. Loewen's recent book The Bible in Cross-Cultural Perspective covers a multitude of subjects—heaven, earth, the afterlife, the spirit world, exorcism, among them. Of particular interest to Priscilla Papers readers is chapter 9, "Images of God: Male, Female, or Both" (pp. 109-16). It is packed with wonderful information regarding inclusive language. Here are excerpts:

Book Review: A Hero from Yesterday: Phoebe Palmer's The Promise of the Father

I wish I had encountered Phoebe Palmer (1807-74) about 25 years ago when wrestling with the issue of the role of women in the church loomed heavily on my heart and mind, and had surfaced in our church as well. Palmer's underlying thesis is that the promise of the Father to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, male and female, and that sons and daughters would prophesy, relates to the role of women in the church today.

Book Review: Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

After a woman pastor, who had preached in college chapel, spoke in my Women in the Bible class, two women students challenged her right to preach by asking, "But how can you be a pastor and lead men in light of 1Timothy 2:9-15?" The pastor responded, "You know, God called me to preach and I started preaching before anyone ever called my attention to 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

Book Review: God's Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission

God's Daughters is an ethnographic analysis of Women's Aglow Fellowship, a 30-year-old women's organization that originally developed out of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. Women's Aglow is the largest interdenominational women's mission organization in the world. Dr. Griffith's book, based on her 1995 Harvard Ph.D. thesis, is built on her observer-participant findings. The analysis is warm and respectful and is built on a genuine liking the author developed for these praying women.

Book Review: Dismantling the Dualisms for American Pentecostal Women in Ministry: A Feminist-Pneumatological Approach

Lisa Stephenson relates the purpose of her book in her concluding chapter rather than in her introduction. Her purpose is to address the theological tenets "that have sustained and justified the subjugation of women in ministry within Pentecostalism ..." (191). She writes as a Pentecostal (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee) to Pentecostals and relies heavily upon Pentecostal scholars such as Gordon Fee, Cecil M. Robeck Jr., Roger Stronstad, Veli-Matti Karkkainnen, and Edith Blumhofer. Wisely, she goes beyond them to rely on Linda L. Belville, Bernhard W.

Book Review: Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues, by N.T. Wright

N. T. (Tom) Wright is an esteemed scholar and prolific author whose work is no stranger to readers of Priscilla Papers. His article, “The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church,”1 was one of the first I read on the topic and served as a launching point for my subsequent research and writing. Consequently, I am pleased to provide a review of his recent book, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues.

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