Hello Steve & Apollos,
Sorry for the delay in responding to your initial posts. I'm going to try to respond in tandem to the points and objections which you both raised so as to (hopefully) minimize being repetitive.
Perhaps I should begin by briefly explaining why I posted this essay in the first place. Steve, as you know, I left the "institutional" church a number of years ago, after being a Christian for 25 years and shortly after becoming an associate pastor. When I left the "IC" I formed a house-church, which was a wonderful experience. It was also during this time period that I began to really research and rethink many facets of my theology, including eschatology, ecclesiology and the role of women in the ekklesia. This was about seven years ago.
In my view, probably the "purest" form of church is a small group of men, women and children gathered in a room together in a circle sharing their spiritual gifts and edifying one-another with no hierarchies or agenda other than to encounter the Living God together. I'm uncomfortable with idea of a professional "ordained" clergy that "performs the ministry" for a passive congregational audience. I'm much more comfortable with the idea of a team of elders who encourage and equip the rest of the ekklesia to grow and function in their gifts.
During my research into various theological topics I kept running into writings by Quakers and found that they resonated deeply with me. I began exploring Quakerism in earnest. Finally, about 18 months ago, my wife and I visited an Evangelical Quaker church here in Seattle (North Seattle Friends Church). We knew from the church's website that the pastor is a woman. We did not visit it for this reason, nor did we avoid it for this reason. From the very first visit we fell in love with the people and the way they functioned as an ekklesia. We felt completely at home there. The pastor, it turns out, is without a doubt the most gifted and naturally adept pastor I have come across in all my years as a Christian. She truly pastors
. There are other mature Christian women and men who minister in exceptional ways within this church; for example, one of the teaching elders--a woman--is a retired pastor and college dean. I think you would like the way she teaches very much, Steve. I watched as, in a very short amount of time in this fellowship, my wife began to flourish like never before in her spiritual gifts (something which fills me with great joy).
Recently, I was invited to teach a Sunday sermon (as Evangelical Quakers, they do sermons sometimes, but also practice "open worship"). The essay I posted here was, essentially, my sermon notes. I gave the teaching on the Sunday after I posted here and it was very well received (but of course I was "preaching to the choir" on this topic!).
All of this is meant to say that my "egalatarian" position is not just theoretical.
The subject of the essay I posted, as the title stated, was to take another look at 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 and perhaps provide a fresh perspective (and one which I wholly believe). The purpose of the essay was not
to provide a comprehensive examination of the role of women in the church (New Testament or contemporary). However, I've been encouraged to expand upon this initial 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 piece and perhaps flesh it out into a book-length treatment.
I felt it would be a good idea in the essay, if, before launching directly into 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40, I explained what had led me a few years ago to undertake the study in the first place. I gave three reasons: Two were very subjective and from my own experience (observation of church being 2/3 female and encountering gifted women) and the third was a thumbnail overview of what I have come to believe about various women in the New Testament and about Paul in the course of my studies. These three reasons (and especially the third) were in no way intended to be my best or most thorough presentation of the information mentioned. That would take much more space (like, a book... hmmm). I simply wanted to state, as briefly as possible, what had led me to undertake the study of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40. I also felt this would fairly expose my own presuppositions (and let's be honest, we all
come to the scriptures with presuppositions).
Since a large portion of your responses (and objections) have been to points touched upon in that brief preamble, I'll try to flesh out a bit more why I wrote what I did--bearing in mind that it takes the thread beyond its original limited subject matter of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40.
Steve, you began by suggesting the influence of Catherine Kroeger (let's not forget her husband and co-researcher Richard Kroeger). I think I've subsequently described where the Kroeger's work fits in within my sphere of influences. You expressed your belief that Catherine Kroeger is an "ideological feminist whose writings do not exhibit, in my opinion, the attitude of openness to the truth that one must bring to the study of such a volatile topic." I found it strange however that you offered John Piper and Wayne Grudem as "much better", since I find their work on the topic to be sorely lacking in "openness" (as evidenced, for example, by their shoddy work in researching Junia). I can see the influence of Piper and Grudem's "Recovering Biblical Manhood" in your responses. I find Piper and Grudem's work on the subject of women to be every bit as agenda-based as you do Kroeger's.
Neuer I can't comment on, nor the particular work you cited edited by Kostenberger (though what I've read by Kostenberger--assuming we're talking about Andreas Kostenberger from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary--did not strike me as particularly balanced either).
To my first of three "reasons I undertook this study", you responded:
The idea that there are severe restrictions and limited opportunities for gifted women to serve in church ministry sounds like a complaint more valid a generation ago. Egalitarians still raise it as if they have not noticed that the 60s have passed, and there is a new situation in the churches—the one they dreamed of and worked for.
While I would certainly agree that there are many more opportunities for gifted women to serve in church ministry now than there were 40 years ago, there are still vast sections of Christendom (from the Catholic to Eastern Orthodox to Evangelical) where this is not the case. Even if we limit our focus to Evangelical Protestantism, some of the "mainline" denominations have "opened up" but the more fundamentalist ones (for example, Southern Baptist or Calvary Chapel) have not. It was only in the last few years that the Vineyard began allowing women to become pastors.
I am not aware of the situation, complained of above, accruing in any church I have visited, in any city or in any country, in the twenty-first century. The only restriction I have ever seen any church place upon women’s ministry is the forbidding of women to be pastors and elders—and there are fewer and fewer churches observing even this policy today. In almost every church I visit, there are women singing solos, testifying, praying, prophesying, giving announcements, teaching Sunday School, managing the church office, leading women’s fellowships, hosting small groups, spearheading outreaches, raising funds, and (in increasing numbers) sitting on the elder boards, and even preaching in the pulpit. I seldom visit a new church without there being some woman introduced as “one of the pastors” or elders of the group.
Which brings up questions about inconsistencies between those church's praxis and their (stated) adherence to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 as traditionally intrerpreted. However, the "only restriction" which you mentioned above is a huge
restriction, especially if a woman is gifted by the Holy Spirit in shepherding or teaching and feels called to ministry within her church or denomination. This restriction is still pervasive throughout Christendom. Last year, a major Christian retailer pulled the September issue of Gospel Today
magazine from its bookstore shelves nationwide. The reason? That issue had a cover story on woman pastors and a cover photo showing five female pastors.
In fact, the most noticeable thing in the modern church (besides its general carnality) is the conspicuous absence of male involvement in the leading of church ministries.
I don't buy this. It sounds polemical (Piper perhaps?). At least for many centuries the church has functioned with the leadership comprised mainly of men and the congregation comprised of more women than men (by about 2/3). Allowing women to read the announcements or sing solos is not leading to the downfall of the church. And perhaps the reason more women are leading church ministries (if this is true) is because the men aren't stepping up. I think women tend to be more fellowship-oriented and a bit more spiritually-minded than men. Men, in our culture especially, tend to be more individualistic and "task-oriented". Perhaps the lack of male involvement in the institutional church has to do with it being, for them, boring and irrelevant. I don't think that's the women's fault however. Correlation does not prove causation.
It is a tragedy that the church has become a religious institution, rather than the militant subversive movement that originally called for such manly heroism in its early days.
I couldn't agree more, however I don't think it has anything to do with women being in leadership. If you want to see a (non-violently) militant subversive radical counter-culteral Christian movement, look no further than the early Quakers. Quaker women and men displayed remarkable "manly heroism" which had a profound effect on England and the American colonies (and later the United States). The Quakers of the 17th and 18th century (particularly the 17th) were a splended echo of the dynamic first century Christian church.
If I recall correctly, you often teach for YWAM. Is that not another group which is very egalatarian and also very vibrant?
If we want to reinforce the impression that most men already have, namely, that Christianity is primarily ”a religion for women and children,” then taking the final step, and placing the movement formally under female leadership would certainly seem to be the best policy to reach such a goal.
I couldn't disagree more. First off, I don't know where you get the idea that "most men" have such an impression about Christianity. That sounds like something from Piper or maybe Eldredge. Many men don't like sitting in an audience week after week, staring at the back of someone's head, listening to some guy preach for an hour (then, again, I can't fathom how women would like that either). It is institutionalism
that is making the church irrelevant. Again, I'd say, read up on the early Quakers. They had both male and female ministers and they were on fire for Jesus and they changed their world. And then what quenched their fire was when they became institutionalized.
I guess we travel in very different circles. I don’t frequently encounter either men or women who display exceptional gifting as spiritual leaders or teachers—nor, sadly, even exemplary Christians, which is the first biblical qualification for leadership.
True, and I think it's because church has come to be about the acquisition of information (via "life changing" sermons!) and not about discipleship and committed community. Many people come to church with a consumer mentality, viewing it as a "vendor of religious goods and services". The idea of a professional clergy and the emphasis on "information consumption" rather than discipleship tends to keep the rank and file in a state of dependance and immaturity. How can people grow in maturity in their gifts when there are so few opportunities to function in most churches? As Graham Cooke once said, "The church is no longer a body. It is just a mouth up front and a huge butt out in the congregation."
I can’t imagine such a woman not being able to find some avenue of ministry, either inside or outside the institutional church. When churches have women who are well-educated and loquacious, it seems to me that they very often give them ministry posts.
Are you saying that women get ministry posts just because they are well-educated and talk excessively? If so, that's a rather cynical view. It seems to negate the whole idea of calling and gifting. Why should an educated, articulate, gifted and called
woman have to go outside of her church community in order to minister? If she does,then her own church is missing out on being edified by her gifts. So much for community and the functioning body of Christ within an ekklesia.
Whether or not such a woman is given a ministry post within her church, depends very much on the denomination. In many denoms, the highest she might aspire to is Sunday School teacher. By the way, I've seen these same limitations put upon women in house-churches, so we're not just talking about "professional" ministry in the "institutional church".
This alleged “contradiction” is much more apparent in the egalitarian literature than in any of the actual biblical texts. It seems that Bible scholars for centuries were blind to this glaring problem in Paul (I myself have never seen it). It has become apparent to Bible students only under the influence of feminism in the secular culture. Since early Christian times, biblical scholars found no problem in harmonizing Paul’s statements about women with his recorded behavior. I still am not able to see any evidence for the thesis that such a contradiction exists.
"Blind" might be an appropriate word. Perhaps, if one lived in a male-dominated culture and was a male and believed in the inherent superiority of males, one wouldn't see any problem. Perhaps this "influence of feminism" (you make that sound like it's a bad thing, whereas I think it's actually a good thing) has made some men re-examine their presuppositions about women and about what Paul might have meant. Was Paul a feminist? To apply such a term to him would be to eisegetically impose a 20th century concept onto a 1st century man. I believe however that when Saul of Tarsus was knocked off of his horse, had his brain rewired, and emerged as the Apostle Paul, he realized that the Kingdom of God was more vast and more inclusive than his Jewish upbringing had ever led him to imagine.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Although Dr. King was primarily (though not entirely) speaking about racial prejudice, I think what he envisioned encompasses all kinds of prejudice and injustice and marginalization of people. Perhaps we could substitute the words "moral universe" with "Kingdom of God."
I don't think women who become "feminists" do so simply because they want to be ornery and uppity. Feminism is a reaction against perceived injustice. I recall, before I became a Christian, a girlfriend asked me to read a book that meant a lot to her. It was entitled "The Women's Room." Although it was a little over the top, it did make me more aware of the frustrations and resentments that many women feel at being patronized and marginalized. I began to see things about the ways women were sometimes treated by men and by institutions that up until then I hadn't noticed. My wife (who I would never label as a "feminist") still points out to me sometimes how women are patronized or dismissed or marginalized. Once she points it out, I can see it, but up until then I'm often oblivious.
This reminds me of a related experience several years ago when I was having lunch with a group of friends who all happened to be African-American. They began to tell me stories of racism they had encountered and continued to encounter. Sometimes it was blatant (like having the "N" word shouted out from a passing car) but often it was subtle. I was incredulous. In my little protected world I thought racism had been left behind in 1960's Alabama. They enabled me to see a little bit through their eyes. Seeing things through someone else's eyes, whether they be a different gender or race or age or nationality is, I believe, a good thing.
I think early Christian writers did
have problems harmonizing Paul's statements about women, though perhaps from the opposite direction: How could Junia be an apostle? Junia is a womans name. There must be an error. It must be Junias. Or, Paul mustn't have meant that she was an apostle. Or, Paul was using the word 'apostle' in a much more limited sense. Otherwise, there is an apparant contradiction with our assumptions about women.
It seems as if poor Epiphanius went so far as to assume that Priscilla was also a man. After all, a woman couldn't have taught Apollos. That would be a contradiction.
Speaking of Priscilla
, I wrote:
On the one hand, Paul worked closely with Priscilla and referred to her on equal terms. Priscilla was very clearly a teacher. One of her students was Apollos.
To which Apollos (not the same one) replied:
Do you mean she was ordained by the laying on of hands and taught in the church? Doesn't 'student' imply an ongoing and vertical relationship? Does this apply?
No, I meant exactly what I wrote. We don't have records from that period of who was "ordained" and who taught in the churches. Was Silas? Was Titus? Everything we're talking about here, pro and con, is extrapolation. As far as "vertical relationships", I don't think there was ever meant to be any such thing in the church or the Kingdom of God.
If we were to assume that 1 Timothy 2:12 restricts women from positions of overseer in the church, as I do, then this example provides no contradiction to that thesis. In fact, while I do not think 1 Corinthians 14 literally consigns women to silence in all church meetings, even if it did, we would find no evidence that Priscilla ever violated such a rule. We never read that she spoke in church meetings, nor that she ever taught any men, apart from co-teaching alongside her husband on one occasion that was not in a public meeting. To call Apollos one of her “students” would no doubt surprise Apollos, since, to our knowledge, he only once even had communication with her, and that was not in a setting of formal instruction.
The "traditional" interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 is much more restrictive than just disqualifying a woman from being an overseer.
Let's face it, we're all making calculated guesses based on evidence. You have settled on a set of assumptions which removes contradictions. I have settled on a different set of assumptions which also removes contradictions.
You are assuming that, alongside her husband, Priscilla co-taught Apollos on one occasion in a private setting (an assumption which minimizes Priscilla's contribution as much as is possible). I am assuming that, since Apollos was "a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24) and "had been instructed in the way of the Lord" and "taught about Jesus accurately" (v. 25) that the instruction given him was fairly advanced and in-depth. Further, I am assuming that since Luke goes against cultural norms and lists Priscilla first (v.26) that Priscilla played the lead role. Further, I'm assuming that Priscilla and Aquila had some kind of "bona fides" in the church that made Apollos feel ok about allowing himself to be instructed by them.
As you know, it wasn't just Luke who named Priscilla before Aquila. The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Frank E. Gaebelein, Ed.) states "Paul's habit of naming Priscilla first seems to testify to her great gifts and usefulness in the kingdom of God." As Chrysostom wrote,"This too is worthy of inquiry, why, as he addressed them, Paul has placed Priscilla before her husband. For he did not say, “Greet Aquila and Priscilla,” but “Priscilla and Aquila.” He does not do this without reason, but he seems to me to acknowledge a greater godliness for her than for her husband. What I said is not guess-work, because it is possible to learn this from the Book of Acts. [Priscilla] took Apollos, an eloquent man and powerful in the Scriptures, but knowing only the baptism of John; and she instructed him in the way of the Lord and made him a teacher brought to completion." ("First Homily on the Greeting to Priscilla and Aquila”)
We also know from Romans 16:3-5 that Paul considered Priscilla and Aquila his "fellow workers in Christ Jesus", a phrase which seems to denote that he regarded them as equals to himself. Paul also stated that "...all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them" which would seem to indicate that they ministered widely among the Gentile churches. Paul also indicates that a church met in their house. But, of course, Priscilla couldn't possibly have done any teaching there or exercised any authority!
As you also probably know, it has been conjectured that Priscilla may have written the Epistle to the Hebrews, though we'll never know this side of heaven. (See: http://www.amazon.com/Priscillas-Letter ... 1882897501
There is a lot of parsing and scrutiny that goes on with these Biblical women, ("Well, it doesn't specifically say that Priscilla taught in a church in public...
") which never occurs with Biblical men. This is because of certain presuppositions based, I believe, on two errors:
1. A flawed interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40.
2. Use of that flawed interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 as a universal rubric for defining how women can function in the ekklesia for all time.
, I wrote:
In his letter to the Romans, Paul singled out Junia, a woman, and Andronicus, a man, and called them “outstanding among the Apostles” which is understood to mean that the two were considered by Paul to be Apostles of note.
To which Steve replied:
This example has been used for decades to make the egalitarian point, but it should be dropped by any who wish not to damage their own credibility as objective researchers. This is because the top scholars are not at all unanimous on two pertinent questions: a) whether Junia was a man or a woman (the name is found referring to both in the contemporary literature), or b) whether “of note among the apostles” means that they were themselves apostles, or simply that they were highly regarded by the apostles. These unanswered (and, by presently available data, unanswerable) questions render this argument valueless in determining whether or not the case of Junia contradicts Paul’s general teaching about women as overseers.
And also to which Apollos took exception:
I'm sorry but I think your presentation here borders on dishonesty. Your passive voice "which is understood" obscures the fact that this is only one possible interpretation of it. The only biographical information we have from the early church states that Junia was actually Junias, a man, and a bishop of a certain town. If it were a woman, there are two possible ways of interpreting the meaning. That leaves your view as one of many possible but not necessary interpretations. The fact you are forced to use that argument really demonstrates the paucity of evidence you actually have for your position.
Apollos, someone once said, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." or, in my case, don't attribute to dishonesty what can be adequately explained by poor writing. I suppose I could have said "which is widely
understood." The use of "passive voice" was not an intentional obfuscation. I'm not that crafty. Your assertion, Apollos, that "The only biographical information we have from the early church states that Junia was actually Junias, a man, and a bishop of a certain town." is flat wrong, as I have already demonstrated in a previous post to Steve in this thread. However, I'd like to learn more about this bishop named Junias that you refer to. Where can we find his "biographical information"? What town was he bishop of? Did the other kids make fun of him for having a girl's name?
The evidence that Junia was a woman (and that there was no such male name as "Junias") is preponderant. Please see Exhibits A, B, C and D in my previous post to Steve. To recap, commentators prior to the 13th century were nearly unanimous that Junia was a female. In recent years the tide has decisively shifted back in that direction. As N.T. Wright states in *Women Bishops: A Response to Cardinal Kasper
: "...recent scholarship, drawing on excellent philology and study of ancient names, strongly suggests that the person in question was female. Junia is a well-known female name of the period, but the suggested male name Junias is not otherwise known; and, when Greek scribes began to introduce accents into their texts, they accented the name in such a way as to make it clear that it was female. That...is how it appears in the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament; and the newest edition of Metzger’s commentary on textual variants indicates that those who still preferred the masculine accentuation did so simply on the grounds that they doubted whether a woman would be referred to as an ‘apostle’ – which precisely begs the methodological question."
The question that remains about Junia is whether or not she and Andronicus were apostles. As I understand it, and contrary to what Steve asserted, the vast bulk of commentaries and translations, as well as church tradition, regard Junia and Andronicus to have been apostles.
To this day, the Greek Orthodox church celebrates the feast of "Apostle Andronicus of the Seventy" every May 17th.
John Chrysostom, a native Greek speaker (and not particularly fond of women), stated in his homily on Romans 16:7: "To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles -- just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great is the wisdom of this woman that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.
The Catholic Encylopedia (no great supporter of women in ministry!) says of Romans 16:7: "...here Andronicus and Junias are mentioned as episemoi en tois apostolois
. These words evidently intended to designate these two as especially distinguished apostles."
A.T. Robertson (author of the massive "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research", and a man who is considered by many to be one of the greatest Koine Greek scholars of the 20th century) stated that the phrase en tois apostolois
"naturally means that they are counted among the apostles in the general sense of Barnabas, James, the brother of Christ, Silas, and others."
Douglas J. Moo (professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Wheaton College Graduate School), in The New International Commentary on the New Testament, concludes that it is more natural to translate the phrase episemoi en tois apostolois
as "esteemed among the apostles" and not "esteemed by the apostles."
In the 19th century there was debate about whether the term "apostle" applied only to the Twelve or others beyond the Twelve. J.B. Lightfoot, in his commentary on Galatians, voiced his support for the latter view by invoking Junia and Andronicus. He stated, "Except to escape the difficulty involved in such an extension of the apostolate [beyond the Twelve], I do not think the words OITINES EISIN EPISHMOI EN TOIS APOSTOLOIS
would have been rendered 'who are highly esteemed by the Apostles.' The Greek fathers took the more natural interpretation" ['among the apostles'].
Anglican scholar C.E.B. Cranfield (author of A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
) stated it was "virtually certain" that the phrase means "outstanding among the apostles."
Walter Bauer (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature
) renders episemoi en tois apostolois
as "outstanding among the apostles."
Aida Besancon Spencer (Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), points out that "the Greek preposition en
which is used here always has the idea of 'within.'"
According to Dennis J. Preato, Greek text books point out that en
followed by the dative normally means "in, on or among." For example, en tois
is translated as "among those" (1 Cor 2:6), and en tois ethnesin
as "among the Gentiles" (Acts 15:12, 1 Cor 5:1, Gal 2:2, Col 1:27, 1 Pet 2:12). Where en tois
is followed by a plural noun referring to a group of people, the word en
is translated as "among."
F.F. Bruce states that not only were Junia and Andronicus "well known to the apostles" but they were "notable members of the apostolic circle."
John A. Witmer (Associate Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, at Dallas Theological Seminary), explains that episemoi
, literally means "having a mark [sema] on them," therefore they are "illustrious, notable, or outstanding" among the apostles. These defintions seem to describe them as one who "bears the mark" of an apostle.
Liddel-Scott (An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon) concurs that the Greek word episemoi
means "having a mark on".
Regarding Romans 16:7, The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Frank E. Gaebelein, Ed.), while assuming that Junia and Andronicus were both men, sums up episemoi en tois apostolois
well: "To interpret the statement as meaning that these men were outstanding in the estimation of the apostles scarcely does justice to the construction in the Greek."
As N.T. Wright (considered perhaps the foremost Pauline scholar of our day) pointed out in the video clip I linked in a previous post in this thread: "Paul says, 'They are well known among the Apostles--episemoi en tois apostolois'. Some people have tried to say that means they are well known to
the Apostles, but actually it's been shown quite recently that it cannot
mean that. Junia is a woman and she is an apostle."
In my experience discussing Junia over the years, the arguments against her follow this progression:
First argument: "Junia was an apostle but wasn't a woman. Women weren't apostles."
--Evidence of Junia's gender is presented.
Second argument: "Junia was a woman but wasn't an apostle. Women weren't apostles."
--Evidence of Junia's apostleship is presented
Third argument: "Junia was a woman and an apostle, but by 'apostle' Paul merely meant 'messenger'.
It seems like an awful lot of work to avoid the simple and obvious conclusion.
, both Steve and Apollos took exception to my questioning why diakonon
is translated as "servant" when applied to Phoebe when it is so often translated as "minister" elsewhere. Apollos accused me of coming "close to imputing evil motives to the translators." I think translators are prone to presuppositions based on cultural and doctrinal biases (or perhaps "blindspots" is a better word), but I don't consider their motives evil. I agree with Steve's view that "The word diakonon would be best translated “servant” in all of its occurrences. It is an unfortunate translation choice to use the word “minister” (an older word for “servant,” but which most modern people take it to mean “pastor”), and, in my judgment, should never have been done in any versions after the time of the KJV." Apollos claims that "The word diakonos in fact is almost always translated 'servant' in all versions - only in ecclesiastical contexts (i.e. some references in 1 Timothy) is it otherwise." Again, this is flat wrong. The instances of "servant" vs. "minister" vary from translation to translation. For example, just looking at diakonon
(the noun) in the Epistles in the NASB it is translated as "minister" four times (applied to Paul three times and Tychicus once) and as "servant" five times (applied to Christ, Phoebe, Epaphras, Tychicus--again--, and Timothy).
Tina Engelbart, in her lengthy treatise on Women in the Bible (http://whatgodsaysaboutwomen.com/women-frame.htm
) points out that "The Living Bible describes Phoebe as 'a dear Christian woman' whereas Timothy is 'a worthy pastor,' (I Tim 4:6) when the same word diakanos
is used for both. He is not called a 'dear worthy man.' Is there a double standard here?"
Perhaps. I think though I could have worded my original statement about diakonon
The bigger issue with Phoebe is the word prostatis
. I stated "Paul also calls Phoebe a prostatis
. Although it appears only here in noun form, the verb form proistemi
, occurs eight times and is translated as 'rule', 'lead' or 'manage'."
I would recommend the word of Robert Jewett on the particular use of the word here with regards to Phoebe, for a very credible case that she was a financial supporter of Paul who was underwriting his trip to Spain and going ahead to smooth the way in Rome - "Paul, Phoebe, and the Spanish Mission” in The Social World of Formative Christianity and Judaism, eds. Neusner, Frerichs, Borgen, and Horsley (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988).
I appeciate the tip on the book. If I understand correctly, it posits that by prostatis
, Paul meant that Phoebe was a "benefactor" (which is how it is now translated in the NRSV and TNIV). This is certainly preferable to "helper", which is how the NIV and NASB render it (those evil translators!). In my essay, for the sake of cohesiveness, I was sticking to the NIV, since it is the best-selling English version. So, if we were to assume (for now) that prostatis
means "benefactor", my point still stands: "helper" is a poor translation of prostatis
, and seems intended to minimize Phoebe's role.
Steve, I think you misunderstood my point and thought I was implying that prostatis
meant that Paul was "...talking about her occupying a position of eldership in the church." My point, rather, was that "helper" in the NIV (and NASB) is a very poor and suspect word choice which minimizes Phoebe's contribution, whether as a "benefactor" or as a "leader".
Although I believe Phoebe was more than just a "benefactor", I'll let it go at that so as not to make an excessively long post even longer.
Regarding my statement that Euodia and Syntyche
, whom Paul says “contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel”, did more than just serve coffee and donuts, Steve agreed but went on to state "We know of no actual ministry that they performed other than what they did “at [Paul’s] side,” so they might not have conducted ministry in his absence. We know little about them or their activities. They may have been preachers, encouragers, or debaters. We may never know."
But, of course, the exact same thing could be said about many men in the New Testament. I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.
, Steve wrote:
In consulting four respected commentaries on 1 Corinthians, I have found none that believed that Stephana was a woman (including the massive NICNT volume by the egalitarian Gordon Fee). The “Analytical Greek New Testament” identifies Stephana as a masculine noun, meaning this name probably belonged to a man, and he is the only one of the persons named in the above sentence that can be said to have borne any leadership role in any church.
From Why Not Women?
by Loren Cunningham & David Joel Hamilton: "It's possible that Paul named another woman church leader in Corinth. Stephana is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:15. Stephana was a woman's name. In rare instances it was also used as a diminutive for a man's name, Stephanos. Since Stephana in this instance was clearly someone in authority, commentators and translators have assumed that Stephana was a man, even though the most natural sense of the Greek would appear to point to a woman."
What fascinates me is the assertion that Stephana must
have been a man because of Paul's directive for submission. If Paul had simply said "Greet Stephana", I don't think there would be any issue. Again, this exposes the underlying presupposition.
Cunningham & Hamilton continue by pointing out, "...the NIV concludes this paragraph with the phrase 'such men deserve recognition' (1 Corinthians 16:18). In Greek there is no word men
here. Instead, there is a personal pronoun in the masculine plural form. Like the term brothers
, this form of the pronoun could be gender specific (all male) or gender inclusive (both male and female) in the Greek language. The NIV's rendering of this verse seems to bias the interpretation in only one way, even though the grammer does not indicate that. 'Such ones deserve recognition' would be a more accurate translation."
Unlike the overwhelming evidence for Junia's femininity, Stephana's gender is a bit of a mystery. My inclusion of Stephana in the list of women was intentional for this very reason: Whether we think of Stephana as a man or a woman says a lot about our presuppositions.
Regarding Chloe, Nympha and Lydia
, I'll keep it short by stating again that there would be no problem assuming they were house-church leaders if they were men.
To summarize, the objections seem to go like this:
Priscilla could not be a teacher or leader because she was a woman.
Phoebe could not be a leader because she was a woman.
Junia could not be a woman because she was an apostle (or could not be an apostle because she was a woman).
Stephana could not be a woman because people were subjected to her.
Chloe, Nympha, Lydia (and others) could not be leaders of their house-churches because they were women.
So the real issue, in my mind, is the source of this belief that women could not be in leadership positions in the early church (and, therefore, in the contemporary church). This is why the main thrust of my essay was a reexamination of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40.
, I wrote:
There have been many attempts to explain or reconcile this apparent contradiction. Why did the man who wrote to the Galatians that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” later write to the Corinthians that “…women must remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak…” and instructed Timothy to forbid women from teaching or having authority over men?
I don't think I should have to point out to you that taking this thought to its logical implied conclusion would mean that men can marry a man or a woman, for there is absolutely no distinction. You are interpreting the gender roles absolutely in order to push the meaning far beyond its intended meaning so that you can claim an apparent contradiction and therefore reinterpret the other passages.
Apollos, I have no idea how you got from functional roles within the ekklesia to gay marriage. I don't see your logic. However, I understand your objection that I was pushing the interpretation of the verse beyond its intended meaning. Steve and Homer voiced similar objections. I'll try to explain what I was getting at.
This does not take much thought to answer. Is it not because, in Galatians, Paul was discussing the universal equality of privilege for all believers, whereas, in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, Paul was describing church order and functions? The juxtaposition of these passages does not really present anything like the difficulty that egalitarian writers are continually trying to generate from these statements.
Homer added that
"Paul is discussing the inheritance we have in Christ ... Paul's point that 'you are all one in Christ Jesus' should be understood as nothing more than assurance that we are all considered to be sons (although adopted) for the purpose of the promised inheritance. Women and slaves would have naturally wondered where they fit in."
As with 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-40, I think reviewing the historical context of Galatians 3:28 is helpful. The Galatian churches were probably about a year old when Paul wrote this epistle. This is probably the earliest extant epistle of Paul. The Galatian believers were probably, in large part, Gentile converts who were now being pressured by Judaizers to conform to Jewish religious practices and essentially become Jews (albeit Christian Jews). Paul's epistle is a fiery rebuttal to the Judaizers and to the Galatians who are being swayed.
In daily Jewish morning prayers of Paul's day (and even today among many Jews), there was a prayer of thanksgiving made by the men to God for not having made them a Gentile, a slave or a woman. The women prayed the same thanksgiving but substituded the last with 'for having made me according to Your will'. This prayer highlights huge "us/them" divisions which existed in the Jewish mindset.
Paul is explaining that in Christ, those divisions are removed. He is directly confronting and contradicting that portion of the traditional morning prayer. The Abrahamic covenant, in its fullness, belongs to all
who are in Christ: Jew and Gentile (breaking the ethnic barriers), free and slave (breaking class barriers), male and female (breaking gender barriers). Previously, these barriers excluded people from full participation in the Abrahamic covenant. In Christ, the barriers used to exclude people are gone. The Kingdom of God (and the church) is to be inclusive
So yes, Paul is saying that men, women, slaves, free, Jews and Gentiles are all equally saved and justified in Christ. As N.T. Wright puts it: "The point Paul is making overall in this passage is that God has one family, not two, and that this family consists of all those who believe in Jesus; that this is the family God promised to Abraham, and that nothing in the Torah can stand in the way of this unity which is now revealed through the faithfulness of the Messiah."
Paul's statement in Galatians 3:28 is directly rebutting those who wanted to impose Jewish regulations (and Jewish ethnicity) upon Gentile converts. The family of Abraham, in Christ, will no longer be able to pray that morning prayer. The "us/them" divisions are now irrelevant. To quote Wright again, "What Paul seems to be doing in this passage, then, is ruling out any attempt to back up the continuing male privilege in the structuring and demarcating of Abraham’s family by an appeal to Genesis 1, as though someone were to say, ‘But of course the male line is what matters, and of course male circumcision is what counts, because God made male and female.’ No, says Paul, none of that counts when it comes to membership in the renewed people of Abraham." (http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Wome ... Church.htm
Paul was not just a theoretical theologian however. He was intensely practical, as his epistles demonstrate, and was concerned about how all of this played out within the churches and the world at large. I think it is interesting that Luke's account of Paul's ministry in Philippi (Acts 16) has him ministering first to a woman (Lydia), then to a slave-girl and then to a Gentile man (the jailer). Paul's words to the Galatians aren't simply "...nothing more than assurance that we are all considered to be sons (although adopted) for the purpose of the promised inheritance.", as Homer suggests. The ramifications go far beyond that into what prayers we pray each morning, how we live each day, how we interact with one-another and how we function when we gather "in Christ" as a church.
Regarding Galatians, Steve wrote:
All Christians share in the same spiritual privileges. However, not all share the same function in the church, as Paul’s famous discourse on the various members of the body in 1 Corinthians 12 so clearly illustrates.
Agreed, but the various functions (gifts) in the church are distributed by God as He sees fit. Who are we to place boundaries around people's gifting and calling based on fixed categories such as gender?
You mentioned, Steve, that you are disqualified from being an elder due to your marital history. That breaks my manly heart, because whether you admit it or not, you are an elder. John Wimber used to say, "If you want to know who the elders are, they're the ones who are elding
." You "eld" on this forum and on your radio program and in your teachings. That a church organization would disqualify you by rotely following a checklist taken from Timothy & Titus (without understanding that the real point behind the checklist is character
) is sad. It is another example of following the letter while missing the spirit and thus missing out on a blessing by unnecessarily excluding gifted people.
To be continued...