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Priscilla Papers

Biblical feminism is an oxymoron—or so I thought when I met Becky Merrill in 1983. She had leanings in this direction, but I did not let that stop me from being interested in her. But time makes fools of us all, especially when God undermines our convictions and replaces them with new insights into old issues. That year Becky joined the staff of The McKenzie Study Center, a campus ministry in Eugene, Oregon, which served The University of Oregon through teaching, writing, and discipleship. Fresh after receiving my bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1979, I joined this ambitious ministry, modeled on the vision of Francis Schaeffer. As a small team of under-funded but earnest evangelicals, we desired to defend and apply the Christian worldview at a secular university. Becky joined us to work as a graphic designer, editor, and writer—all before computers were used for this.  Read more
For enslaved members of the African diaspora in America, the biblical story of Exodus provided a way of understanding and framing discussions about slavery. Enslaved people would eventually use the Exodus story to shape their arguments for the abolition of slavery. If enslaved people found comparisons between their situation and that of the children of Israel, might not contemporary literary scholarship turn to the Moses narrative to understand and frame discussions, especially theological ones, about the enslaved experience as recounted in slave narratives, whether narratives of the African diaspora in America, of modern-day sex trafficking, or other instances of slavery? Read more
Several years ago, when my family had moved to a new city, we contacted a nearby church that had been recommended to us and we inquired about their stance on women in leadership. Read more
Priscilla Papers is an interdisciplinary journal. And rightly so, for both CBE and Priscilla Papers advocate for an interdisciplinary cause. More precisely, CBE and Priscilla Papers advocate in an interdisciplinary way for a biblical cause, a Christian cause, a kingdom cause.  Read more
Why not women? This is the question we are asking this weekend. I would like to suggest a follow-up question: Why are we still asking this question? Early in my college experience, when I was trying on churches like jeans or shoes, I attended a college-age class at an area church. There I was asked another series of questions, the same ones you hear in college-age Sunday school classes every fall: “What’s your name, where are you from, and what do you want to be?” I said, “Jenny Patterson, Jacksonville, Florida, youth minister.” The teacher, the associate minister at that church, said to me, “You want to be a youth minister, in this denomination?” And laughed. That was years ago, and if we are still asking this question, then it is still a laughing matter. Which, in my opinion, is no laughing matter. Read more
Over the past several decades, women have made strides toward equality in the secular world as well as the church. While some claim these changes have happened too quickly and mourn what they see as the loss of tradition, others believe they have been too long in coming and lament that we still have so far to go. While studying certain aspects of the debate, we—this article’s authors—began to craft a research project: Cameron posed a question while a student in Susan’s Gender Studies course, a question which has focused our attention on a related but unexplored aspect of the gender equality struggle. Here is what happened. Read more
Public debates continue—and sometimes boil over—concerning approaches to Bible translation. “Literal” is often trumpeted as the divine model, while “interpretive” approaches are seen as invariably sliding away from the ideal. The sacred text’s teaching about women—their role and the language used to describe it—stands at the center of a factious debate in the Western church. This article presents some of the key passages cited to buttress or confound one side or the other, analyzing them to demonstrate what the author believes is scripture’s strong, if not always obvious, egalitarian position on the exercise of spiritual gifts in the church. That teaching has often been obscured by literal renderings devoid of implicit but vital contextual information. This article attempts to explain and supply that missing information in succinct ways. Equivocate as we might about difficult passages and key terms, translators are sometimes forced to make interpretive choices that, one way or the other, are bound to stir debate, affect lives, and support or derail centuries of church practice. We translators are not always free to leave such decisions to the reader. We need to be honest: our theology affects the nature of our work—in this case, the daily life of half the audience and the worldview of the whole. Read more
“And I will be to you as a father, and you will be to me as sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” So writes Paul in 2 Cor 6:18, evidently quoting from 2 Sam 7:14. But the 2 Samuel passage lacks the words “and daughters.” Some scholars assume that Paul has merged the language of 2 Samuel with a quotation from another OT passage where sons and daughters are mentioned. Others argue that Paul has added the words not to echo an older text, but to affirm an insight of his own.1 Whether Paul has borrowed the phrase or created the phrase, the addition clarifies his understanding of God’s covenant people. And the clarification is significant: Paul included women. Read more
In the women-in-ministry debate, the verb authenteō in 1 Tim 2:12 has played a crucial role. As a result, a plethora of scholarly efforts have aimed at uncovering what exactly the term meant during Paul’s time and what it meant specifically in 1 Tim 2:12. Despite such painstaking work, there remains considerable disagreement about what the term means. Both egalitarian and complementarian evangelicals claim the research is in their favor. To complicate matters, Bible translations continue to vary over the term and the verse’s phrasing (sometimes newer versions of the same translation). All of this prompts scholars to step back and ask, what does the research actually show? And more importantly, how should Christians translate and understand the meaning of this term and verse as they regularly read their Bibles? Read more
Essential to an academic journal is a group of scholars who ably advise the editor. These four women and four men have agreed to comprise the Priscilla Papers Peer Review Team. They deserve our gratitude for sharing their expertise and thereby advancing the mission of CBE. Read more

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Book Review: Women Caught in Conflict

This book deals in depth with the rocky relationship between evangelicalism and feminism. The author believes it is no less than part of the "culture war" that replicates on a smaller scale what is going on in secular society.

Book Review: A Cord of Three Strands

This book, written by a woman on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, makes a distinct contribution to the current literature on biblical teachings about men and women in the marriage relationship and as co-workers in the service of Christ. The title is taken from Ecclesiastes 4:12: "A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." The three strands, in Wright's book, refers to man, woman and God.

The book is divided into two sections: the first discusses the marriage relationship; the second concerns how men and women can and should work together in Christian service.

Book Review: John Stackhouse Jr.'s Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender

Finally Feminist is designed to speak to both sides of the gender debate within the evangelical church. Stackhouse attempts to affirm both sides with "a single, coherent paradigm that amounts finally to a Christian feminism" (10). The book grew out of a series of lectures given while the author was a visiting scholar at Taylor University (Indiana) and Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. Only 144 pages, the book's discussion of gender is limited to the status and roles of women and men in church and family.

Book Review: Del Birkey's The Fall of Patriarchy

Del Birkey, an independent scholar and author of The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1988), has written a passionate, wide-ranging, and interesting book on the harmful power of patriarchy and its critique by Jesus and the apostles, representing the biblical truth of gender equality. Birkey published an article on patriarchy in the Spring 2000 issue of Priscilla Papers, which he says was the beginning of his work on this topic.

Book Review: Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation

Biblical feminists will be interested in a chapter co-authored by Helen V. Stehlin which appears in James Davison Hunter's new book (1987) Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation (University of Chicago Press). The chapter is entitled "Family: Toward Androgyny." Hunter's sociological study of evangelical college and seminary students surveys current attitudes regarding world, morality, self, theology, politics, and the family.

Book Review: Kari Torjesen Malcom's Building Your Family to Last

In July 2006, I welcomed the reprinting of this marriage classic. Kari Torjesen Malcolm is an expert on the subject of marriage and family. Born of a Norwegian missionary couple in China, Malcolm later served as a missionary to the Philippines for fifteen years with her husband and two children. Building Your Family to Last was written to help individuals build lasting families by putting Christ first in their lives (9). Christian married couples and single readers alike will find her message relevant, precise, provocative, and biblical.

Book Review: Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis's Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Heirarchy

The editors of this large volume of 515 pages have put together twenty-nine essays arranged under five headings: Setting the Stage (the Historical Backdrop); Looking to Scripture (the Biblical Texts); Thinking It Through (Logical and Theological Perspectives); Addressing the Issues (Hermeneutical and Cultural Perspectives); Living It Out (Practical Applications). All are scholarly presentations that are well documented and compellingly written by more than twenty contributors, three by contributing editor Gordon Fee.

Book Review: Steven R. Tracy's Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse

Dr. Steven Tracy is the vice president of academic affairs and associate professor of theology and ethics at Phoenix Seminary. He and his wife founded the Door of Hope ministry, which provides training and resources for abuse healing ministry. Drawing upon his fifteen years of pastoral and counseling experience, the author uses illustrations from real cases and the Bible to provide practical advice on how to minister to abuse survivors.

Book Review: Marriage Made in Eden

Alice Mathews and M. Gay Hubbard write an extraordinary book about Christian marriage and family. The book's purpose is to explore God's perspective on marriage, an ancient view, for a postmodern world. Marriage Made in Eden is bursting with rich historical, cultural, sociological and biblical background on marriage. But the authors' unique contribution in advocating for strong, enduring Christian marriage is their belief that God's purpose for marriage is both to transform us as the people of God and to use us to witness God's amazing love and power to an unbelieving world.

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.

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