Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 12 (Gupta)

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Women in the Ancient Jewish Synagogue

When we address the matter of women in ministry in the New Testament, the focus tends to be on evidence for women in leadership roles in the church—and for good reason. But if we zoom out, it is helpful to look at roles that women played in other religious institutions of the time, especially the Jewish synagogues. Most scholars agree that the nature and structure of the Jewish synagogue influenced the formation of the earliest churches (see Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians).

Therefore, I have found it advantageous to examine the roles and titles attributed to Jewish women in the synagogue. This doesn’t directly “prove” anything related to Christian churches, but offers a more complete picture of what women could and did do in the ancient world.

For a short, but somewhat technical essay, read THIS.

Mother of the Synagogue, Elder…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 11 (Gupta)

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Is “Headship” Relevant to Women in Ministry Leadership? (1 Cor 11:2-16)

In these blog posts, my overall focus is on why I support women as church leaders, including preaching and teaching for the whole body. I don’t think 1 Corinthians 11 has much to say one way or another about women as pastors and preachers, but it comes up enough in conversations about “headship” and “submission” that I thought it deserves discussion.

What is Headship?

It is important to acknowledge that the term “headship” is not in the Bible. It is a construct that is used to talk about gender relationships and power dynamics. But in 1 Cor 11, the language of “head” is important. According to conventional definitions, “headship” refers to the authority of the husband over the wife, and the expected submission of the wife to the husband. Sometimes, it is extrapolated out to men/women relationships in church…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 10 (Gupta)

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Why Translation Matters (ἀνθρωπος/anthropos doesn’t mean “man/men”)

Periodically, I will offer some translation notes in this blog series. Today, I want to point out how many modern translations default to androcentrism (a “male” orientation where it is unnecessary). I will focus my concern on the ESV, because of its popularity and its dominance in many evangelical churches.

According to most reputable lexicons, anthropos means “person/human,” without any specific assumption of gender. I would guess that 99% of the time, anthropos is used in the New Testament in this generic way. There are a small number of occasions, where anthropos is used as a clear reference to a man only (and, thus, as a synonym for aner, “male”; cf. 1 Cor 7:1).

Translations like the ESV often render anthropos as “man” even though nothing in the context suggests this gendered limitation. Here are a some examples.

ESV Romans 1:18…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 9 (Gupta)

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Wise Priscilla

Married Couple Saints In Scripture.JPGPriscilla and Aquila connected with Paul via their shared occupation of tent-making (Acts 18:1-3). Not only does this couple appear in Luke’s Acts, but they are also mentioned by Paul in Romans. He calls them “co-workers in Christ Jesus,” which was his way of designating ministry colleagues. Paul goes as far as saying they (both of them) “risked their lives for me” such that all Gentile Christians are in their debt (Rom 16:4).

I hear from theologians and pastors from time to time that (1) women are capable of good leadership, but (2) the Bible expressly forbids women teaching men on theological or biblical matters (supposedly based on 1 Tim 2:11-14; we will get to that text later). But Priscilla seems to be a direct example of a woman teaching a man.

Luke refers to the Christian Apollos (an Alexandrian Jew) as a “learned man” who had already…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 8 (Gupta)

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Mary Magdalene: Equal to the Apostles

In the last post, I talked about marvelous Mary. There is another important Mary (or Miriam): Mary Magdalene. Contrary to popular assumptions, she was not a prostitute or woman of ill repute. (see HERE for more information on that.) According to Luke, she was someone Jesus cured from the oppression of seven demons (8:2). Presumably, she was also one of the many women disciples who travelled with Jesus and financially supported his ministry out of her funds (8:3).

Mary’s importance in the Jesus tradition should not be underestimated. She is mentioned by name and appears in the Passion Narratives in all four Gospels. That means her presence and importance has staying power. She was and is remembered as a uniquely loyal and faith-filled disciple.

According to Matthew, Mary Magdalene (and another Mary) go to the tomb, and are greeted by an angel who…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 7 (Gupta)

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Marvelous Mary

I’m not Catholic, but I have learned to pay close attention to Mary in the Gospels from my Catholic friends. She should be respected as the mother of Jesus, but she is also an example of great faith in the Gospels, a disciple in her own right, and she even becomes a matriarch of the early church (I will explain that one later).

Yes, Jesus had an earthly father, but the spotlight of the Gospels tends to be on Mary.

Preacher of the Gospel

MarysMagnficat-700x700I believe it was Joel Green and F. Scott Spencer who really opened my eyes to the beauty and power of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), where she previews the gospel with deeply impactful words. I consider it the most inspiring articulation of the gospel in the whole Bible. Recently I had a discussion on social media where several men argued that her song is…

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“Everything N. T. Wright” Sale at Logos

Reading Acts

During the last week of May. Logos is running a sale on N. T. Wright. Since Wright is so prolific, you might be wondering where to start. His Simply Christian or Surprised by Hope ($16.09 each) are basic presentations of Christian theology in the tradition of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. I have used The Challenge of Jesus ($11.89) for many years as supplemental reading in my Jesus and the Gospels class.

His Tyndale Commentary on Colossians and Philemon on the list ($11.19). This is one of the most readable commentaries I have read; academic yet spiritually challenging. It is far more detailed than his For Everyone commentary series ($10.49 a volume). Wright comments briefly on every book of the New Testament. Not academic, but very well suited for a small group Bible Study or a supplement to one’ s personal Bible reading. Pick out individual volumes or get…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 6 (Gupta)

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Thinking about Patriarchy

Soon, I will be jumping from Genesis 3 to the New Testament. I have already talked about Deborah, and I think she busts the assumptions we have about the empowerment and competency of women in the Old Testament. Also, I need to do a lot of work in the New Testament with key texts, so we will commence with Jesus and women.

But before looking at texts in the New Testament, it is vitally important to address the matter of patriarchy in the Bible.

Is Patriarchy “Biblical”?

Put simply, patriarchy is the idea that a (certain) society revolves around men and their leadership. In patriarchal societies, men are the leaders and decision-makers, and women play a supporting role. It would be foolish to argue that Jesus did not live in a patriarchal society. Israel had kings. Israel had male priests. Jesus had male disciples. The lives of…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 5 (Gupta)

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The Undoing (Genesis 3)

In this blog series, I want to spend some time on Genesis 3, popularly known as “the Fall.” I think that terminology is inaccurate. Falling is not imagery used here. Closer to what we see happen in this chapter, I like to call it the “undoing” of God’s good work in creation. All that beauty, innocence, harmony, and unity is undone.

The first thing to notice with Genesis 3:1 is that the problem seems to come out of the middle of nowhere. This serpent appears on the scene with a dastardly agenda. He succeeds in sowing the seed of doubt in the mind of Eve (3:3-4). But, what is worse, Eve gives into temptation and seeks to “be like God” (3:5) in her knowledge of good and evil. She believed it would give her special or divine wisdom such that she could be independent of God…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 4 (Gupta)

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Image of God, Male and Female

It’s time to look at Genesis 1 and 2. I used to think that it made a big difference that woman was created after man, and that she was created to be a “helper” to man. But, as Lucy Peppiatt reminded me (in her soon coming book, which is excellent), this is one way of interpreting the creation story, but it is not the only way. Before we get to some of these gender issues, I just want to make a few notes about Genesis 1 and 2.

Genesis 1

This is a grand narrative of the incredible act of God to fashion a good and beautiful world: light, day and night, waters, sky, land and greenery, sun, moon, and stars, sea creatures and birds (1:1-20); and the command for all things to produce abundance (1:21-25).

In 1:26, adam

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