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Paul, Women and Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul

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Paul's letters stand at the center of the dispute over women, the church, and the home, with each side championing passages from the Apostle. In his challenging study of these thorny texts, Craig Keener delves deeply into the world of Paul and the other apostles, taking biblical texts seriously and explaining how Paul's letters arose in a specific time and place for a spec Paul's letters stand at the center of the dispute over women, the church, and the home, with each side championing passages from the Apostle. In his challenging study of these thorny texts, Craig Keener delves deeply into the world of Paul and the other apostles, taking biblical texts seriously and explaining how Paul's letters arose in a specific time and place for a specific purpose. Mining the historical, lexical, cultural and exegetical details behind Paul's words about women in the home and ministry, Keener provides us with a highly insightful exposition of the key Pauline passages.


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Paul's letters stand at the center of the dispute over women, the church, and the home, with each side championing passages from the Apostle. In his challenging study of these thorny texts, Craig Keener delves deeply into the world of Paul and the other apostles, taking biblical texts seriously and explaining how Paul's letters arose in a specific time and place for a spec Paul's letters stand at the center of the dispute over women, the church, and the home, with each side championing passages from the Apostle. In his challenging study of these thorny texts, Craig Keener delves deeply into the world of Paul and the other apostles, taking biblical texts seriously and explaining how Paul's letters arose in a specific time and place for a specific purpose. Mining the historical, lexical, cultural and exegetical details behind Paul's words about women in the home and ministry, Keener provides us with a highly insightful exposition of the key Pauline passages.

30 review for Paul, Women and Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul

  1. 4 out of 5

    Werner

    In the contemporary world, one of the principal charges leveled against Christianity by its secularist adversaries is that the Christian Bible commands the subjugation of women under the rule of men, in both home and church (and by extension, pretty much everywhere else as well). This accusation isn't utterly without apparent basis in fact. After all, the Bible originated in ancient Jewish and Hellenistic cultures which certainly can be demonstrated to have been sexist. And it's also a fact that In the contemporary world, one of the principal charges leveled against Christianity by its secularist adversaries is that the Christian Bible commands the subjugation of women under the rule of men, in both home and church (and by extension, pretty much everywhere else as well). This accusation isn't utterly without apparent basis in fact. After all, the Bible originated in ancient Jewish and Hellenistic cultures which certainly can be demonstrated to have been sexist. And it's also a fact that many (though not all) of the members of the Christian church throughout its history have viewed, and still view, the Bible as commanding exactly that; I've encountered numerous examples of this in my own experience, some of them more egregious than others. (It's ironic that we have here a rare instance of complete agreement between patriarchical Christians and their secular humanist adversaries over the interpretation of Scripture, though they disagree over whether or not the message they're reading is a good one.) A crucial question that might be asked, however, is whether they're actually reading the correct message. (And in this case and in others, the sincerity and zeal of an interpretation's defenders aren't a reliable measure of its validity.) That's the question this book sets out to address. Craig S. Keener is one of the ablest evangelical New Testament scholars of his generation. In this book, written with enough intellectual rigor to satisfy and instruct readers in the academic and clerical milieu, but lucidly enough to speak to intelligent lay men and women who study the Bible seriously on their own as well, he does not attempt to survey the teaching of the entire Bible on gender roles. Rather, he concentrates on the letters of the apostle Paul, principally I Corinthians, I Timothy, and Ephesians. (He accepts --correctly, IMO--Paul as the author of all of the letters that bear his name.) This is not as major a limitation as it might appear, however, since essentially the entire case for a patriarchical interpretation of the Bible as a whole stands or falls on the interpretation of a handful of "proof texts" (all of which he examines in detail) drawn from the writings of Paul. In the broader debate outside the pages of this book, non-Pauline texts are sometimes enlisted on one side or the other as ancillary arguments, or for what they contribute to a general picture of biblical gender attitudes (and they're sometimes referred to here as well); but all of the supposed explicit commands for patriarchy in home and church are derived from Paul's letters. Keener divides his study into two parts, the first (three chapters) concerned with women's roles in the church and the second, made up of four chapters, with women's (and men's) roles in the family. There are also two substantial appendices, one dealing with the references to women's ministry in other Pauline writings outside the three letters that are the main focus of attention, and the other providing helpful cultural background on female roles in the mystery cults of the Hellenistic era (which Paul seeks to sharply distinguish Christians from). This book has been reprinted several times since I read it; the 2009 printing I'm referring to now has a preface newly written in 2004, which updates us on the discussion of the issue in evangelical circles since the first printing in 1992, and explains some of the interpretive principles used in the book itself. The author's understanding is that Paul's teaching as to gender roles is basically equalitarian, and that the mutual subjection of all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21) is not a platitude tossed onto the page just as a pretty thought, but a basic principle to be taken seriously. His approach to the interpretation of the passages addressed is based on close reading, makes serious reference to the original Greek (though he doesn't use Greek words in the body of the text; he sometimes does in the end-notes), and draws on the historical and cultural background to illuminate the meaning wherever it can shed light. He's clearly erudite in his field, and he interacts frequently here with other scholars, both those who agree with him and those who disagree. (Each chapter has end-notes, which are mostly references, but occasionally add thoughts or information to the exposition.) The bibliography of works cited runs to nearly 40 pages of books and articles, including ancient sources, and the names of the modern writers represented are practically a roll call of serious 20th-century Scripture scholars. (Indexes of references to both ancient and modern sources are provided.) Writing with an irenic, rather than polemical, tone, he's not afraid to indicate where his conclusions are tentative rather than certain. Since the text and appendices cover 262 pages (279 counting the Introduction), I can't summarize all his interpretive points here. I can say that the book is an intellectual feast of substantial exegetical fare. This book is must reading for anyone who's seriously interested in understanding New Testament teaching about gender roles. Whatever your position on the subject, I believe you would be apt to learn things here; and for many readers, I think this is a read that could be positively eye-opening.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    Just what I was hoping for, an egalitarian view on Paul and his teaching regarding women. He didn't always necessarily win the argument, in my opinion. After feeling somewhat persuaded by a given chapter, I would often re-read the subject scripture, and just feel like Keener didn't quite carry the day. Overall though, the books larger arguments / themes really resonated with me, and did provide the reconciliation I needed with Paul's teaching. So for that I am grateful. I do believe that as Chri Just what I was hoping for, an egalitarian view on Paul and his teaching regarding women. He didn't always necessarily win the argument, in my opinion. After feeling somewhat persuaded by a given chapter, I would often re-read the subject scripture, and just feel like Keener didn't quite carry the day. Overall though, the books larger arguments / themes really resonated with me, and did provide the reconciliation I needed with Paul's teaching. So for that I am grateful. I do believe that as Christians, we should constantly test, and reevaluate, the way we read scripture, to ensure the message we receive is that of God, and not that of our own time and cultural biases. The concern, as always, is that I hear what I want to hear in a text, and I use it to assuage myself in my popular opinion. All I can say is that I felt this book made me scratch beneath the surface enough, made me work for it, if you will, to the extent that I feel better having read it. That's enough for me right now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    This is a very strong treatment of this topic--it's in my top two books on the list. He deals with the 5 main passages about women in leadership and in marriage in the New Testament. Keener's a great scholar. I learned a ton, and I appreciate all the footnotes and primary documents quotes. He's so balanced that at times it's a little frustrating . . . he won't be conclusive when the biblical text and ancient evidence aren't conclusive. But I love this about him, because I know I can trust what h This is a very strong treatment of this topic--it's in my top two books on the list. He deals with the 5 main passages about women in leadership and in marriage in the New Testament. Keener's a great scholar. I learned a ton, and I appreciate all the footnotes and primary documents quotes. He's so balanced that at times it's a little frustrating . . . he won't be conclusive when the biblical text and ancient evidence aren't conclusive. But I love this about him, because I know I can trust what he does say definitively that much more! An excellent book, and I highly commend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    My thought are now available here: http://centrestreetbaptistchurch.com/... My thought are now available here: http://centrestreetbaptistchurch.com/...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andy Hickman

    Life-saver! Keener, Craig S. Paul, Women and Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. Introduction (p1) Part 1: The Roles of Women in the Church. (p17) 1.Head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:1-6 (p19) 2.Questions about Questions – 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (p70) 3.Learning in Silence – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (p101)1 Part 2: Women's Roles in the Family. (p133) 4.Why Paul Told Wives to Submit – The Social Situation of Ephesia Life-saver! Keener, Craig S. Paul, Women and Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. Introduction (p1) Part 1: The Roles of Women in the Church. (p17) 1.Head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:1-6 (p19) 2.Questions about Questions – 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (p70) 3.Learning in Silence – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (p101)1 Part 2: Women's Roles in the Family. (p133) 4.Why Paul Told Wives to Submit – The Social Situation of Ephesians 5:18-33 (p139) 5.Mutual Submission in Ephesians 5:18-33 (p157) 6.A Model for Interpreting Wives' Submission: Slaves in Ephesians 6:5-9 (p184) 7.Closing Words (p225) Appendix A: Women's Ministry Elsewhere in Paul (p237) Appendix B: Mysteries, Music, Women, and wine – Ephesians 5:18-21 and the threat of Subversive Religions (p258) - - - - “As members of the body of Christ, we are all called to look out for one another's interests, and if certain ministries are denied to half (or over half) of God's people, then that should concern all of us, for the ministry of the entire body of Christ will surely suffer from this denial.”2 Issues affecting objective hermeneutical insight: Denominational tradition. e.g. Pentecostal circles which do not oppose women in ministry. Pioneers in the Pentecostal and Holiness movements were women. Assemblies of God affirm women's right to ordination.3 Other traditional views (accurate translations, contemporary Christian music).4 “Like many others who hold to wholesale theological positions without having time to investigate their points, I thought it safer to stand on the more conservative side – which at that the time I thought meant the more “traditional” side – until I could know for certain. I was, of course, mistaken; it would have been better for me not to have taken a stand at all until I could know for certain.”5 “Yet some people hold many views simply because these views are part of a 'conservative' package. It is precarious, however, to interpret the Bible by simply assuming the more 'conservative' or traditional interpretation to be correct...”6 “What is ultimately at issue for those who regard the apostolic tradition as normative is not what subsequent tradition teach, but what the writers of the Bible teach.”7 “And if I as a male minister could question the sincerity of her call, how could any of us men argue that we were certain that we had been called to ministry?”(4) “... to Paul's admonition that women cover their heads in church: 'That's just cultural.' 'But it's part of the Bible!' I protested. 'If you throw this part out, you have to throw everything else out, too.' …. if I were consistent in my stance against using culture to interpret the Bible, I would have to advocate women's head coverings in church, the practice of holy kisses, and parentally arranged marriages.” (4) 8 “Sooner or later I had to come to terms with the claims of the biblical texts themselves. If Paul says in 1 Corinthians that he is writing a letter to the Corinthians, am I not disrespecting his words if I ignore Paul's own claim that this is what he is doing? I had to come to grips with how the Bible itself invites us to interpret it. ... most of the books of the Bible were originally written to different audiences, and that the Bible's original readers would have to read each book by itself. The Corinthians, for example, would read Paul's letter to them as a letter addressing their own situation, and they could not cross-reference to Romans or Revelation to figure out what Paul meant.”9 “We recognize that the book of Revelation belongs to a certain literary genre called prophetic or apocalyptic literature. But Paul's letters belong to a distinct literary genre no less: they are letters. And letters also nearly always address specific situations.”10 “... as opposed to constructing an entirely new meaning based in a naive modern reading of an ancient text.”11 “ … I was going to have to start learning the culture and history of the biblical world if I were to be faithful to my call. I decided that I would thus need to spend time reading a book besides the Bible that would give me all the necessary background. … accepting the validity of cultural-historical context for biblical interpretation..”12 “... I came to realise that a lot of what Paul had to write about women (not just concerning their head coverings) had to address a specific congregational or cultural situation. While I insisted that whatever principles Paul applied to that situation were transcultural, I had to acknowledge that those principles would have to be reapplied in different ways in different cultural settings: all biblical passages may be for all time, but all biblical passages are not for all circumstances..... 'contextualization' … many Christians have not yet discovered this approach to reading the Bible.”13 Biblical Interpretations or Feminist Agenda? “On the one hand, many people today claim to follow the Bible, yet prejudice their interpretation of the Bible by merely using it to legitimize their own prior agendas. On the other hand, many other people claim to follow the Bible, and yet fail to apply its principles to our own situation today.”14 “The complication with …. a category ...is that not everyone defines either 'biblical' or 'feminism' in the same way..”15 “If our allegiance is to biblical teaching, we do not need to accept or reject uncritically everything associated with any particular movement.”16 “Equal treatment for women (or, indeed, for any people made in God's image) is not, as some would argue, an agenda borrowed from the secular world. The subordination of women, on the contrary, is an idea practiced (often in brutal ways) by most non-Christian cultures in history.17 It could thus be easily argued that the subordination of women in Christian history was borrowed from the secular world, and that it tells us more about the societies in which those Christian rules were formulated than about God's eternal purposes. ... treating women as men's equals was far closer to the spirit of Paul than making them subordinate. This is significant, since it is to Paul that the alleged repression of women in the New Testament is most often attributed.”18 The Nature of this Book “Those who advocate the subordination of women traditionally appeal to a limited number of passages to support their position, those of us who advocate women's equality do the same, except, of course, with different passages.”19 “numerous examples of the abuse of Scripture in history (e.g., to support slavery, to oppose inoculations, to advocate burning of suspected witches, etc.)”20 “... that the God of the Bible calls women to teach the Scriptures is, in my opinion, beyond dispute, supported by clear biblical evidence and challenged only by the interpretation of several comparatively ambiguous texts.” (footnote #29, p15)21 “I hope that those who disagree will challenge my interpretations, rather than question my commitment to the authority if Scripture because my interpretation is different from theirs.”22 Part 1 - THE ROLES OF WOMAN IN THE CHURCH (1 Cor 11:1-16) “The cultural issue addressed in this passage is probably that women of higher wealth and status were decking themselves out and distracting men by their artificial beauty. Paul sides with the lower-status, more conservative elements in the congregation for the sake of propriety and church unity.”23 (1 Cor 14:34) “this passage could be read as enjoining absolute silence on all women in all churches, but this interpretation would contradict the context and the earlier passage in 1 Corinthians 11, where women are praying and prophesying. More likely, this second passage addresses women who are asking misguided questions during the teaching period of the church service, thereby slowing everyone down, and Paul's admonition refers only to this situation. The cultural situation is the inferior training of women, which Paul seeks to correct by urging husbands to take a more active interest in their wives' spiritual and intellectual maturation.”24 (1 Timothy 2:8-15) “This is the only passage in the entire Bible explicitly forbidding or limiting women's teaching role.25 This passage is therefore problematic, since Paul elsewhere commends fellow ministers who were women. Again, the cultural situation is in view; women were in general less trained than men, and Paul does not want people susceptible to false teaching to be in leadership positions when heresy is so rampant in the church. But here again he proposes a long-range solution for the Christian women in that congregation: they should be educated as the men had been.”26 He bases his argument against allowing these particular women to teach first of all on the creation order, the same basis for the requirement that women in Corinth wear head coverings. The second basis for his argument is the parallel between the deceivable women of Timothy's congregation and deceivable Eve, similar to his earlier parallel between the deceivable Corinthian Christians of both genders and Eve. But, as in 1 Corinthians 11, he ends up qualifying his argument so that no one takes him too far; Eve's curse is removed for those who persevere in Christ. There is in the entirely of the NT no evidence for the subordination of women that is practiced in many of our churches today, and certainly not sufficient evidence or men who rule out the validity of women's calls to minister the word of God. When men claim that God has called them,we ought to evaluate their calls on the same terms. If we judge other's people's calls on the basis of a narrow and ill-considered interpretation of several texts, ignoring the clear examples of other texts, we may succeed only in silencing some of God's servants needed for our generation. And if we do that, we invite God to pass judgment on our own call as interpreters of God's word.” (18) - - - (1) Head Coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:1-6 (p19) (1 Cor 11:2-16) “'Men preaching and teaching is something for all cultures,' they say, 'whereas women wearing head coverings was only an issue back then.' … In one passage (forbidding women to teach), Paul does not want the women of a certain congregation to teach; in the other passage, he wants the women of a certain congregation to cover their heads. We take the argument as trans-culturally applicable in one case, but not so in the other. This seems very strange indeed.”27 “... Paul would understand that styles of ministry, the educational level of women, and the moral and social significance of women teaching is different from what it was in Paul's day, and that he would therefore approve of women teaching in church.” (19-20). Interpretations of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 “I will argue ...that Paul's arguments here (1 Cor 11:2-16) (as often elsewhere) are meant to persuade his readers in terms of the logic of their own culture.” (21) “As Gordon Fee notes, Paul here appeals to 'shame, propriety, and custom' rather than to outright declarations or commands; this is a cultural issue, not a 'life-and-death mater' like the abuse of the Lord's Supper.”28 (22) Women's Head Covering in Antiquity (22) “... but at the least a head covering was a necessary sign of public modesty for all Palestinian Jewish women who could afford it.” (26) Paul's Arguments: Family, Creation, Nature, and Custom (31) “Indeed, as Fee points out, the only 'authority' mentioned in the entire passage is the women's own (11:10), and 11:11-12 'explicitly qualify vv8-9 so that they will not be understood' hierarchically.29 The woman is not the man's subordinate in this passage; she is his 'glory' (or 'reputation,' 'honour', 'splendor'), the one who brings him shame or honour.30” (33) “The meaning 'source' has been hotly disputed. Evangelical scholar Wayne Grudem argues that this meaning for 'head' is not attested, whereas the metaphorical use of 'head' usually implies authority. His argument has, however, been seriously challenged by other evangelical scholars. Gordon Fee observes that only forty-nine uses of 'head' in ancient Greek literature are metaphorical... But in Fee's view, Grudem has failed to bring into question the meaning 'source' or to show that 'head' is normally a term of authority.”34 - - - - Conclusion Transcultural points in his argument: one should not bring reproach upon one's family or upon the Christian gospel; one should not eek to destroy symbolic gender distinctions by pioneering unisex clothing styles; one should respect custom and do one's best to avoid causing someone to stumble. (46) None of us should dress extravagantly and embarrass those who have little, or in a manner that [47] might be interpreted as sexually enticing in our culture. Beyond this, we must keep in mind that Paul's purpose was to make Christianity available to more people, to increase its cultural appeal to the majority of those who would be interested in it. If our churches' dress code turn people away from the church rather than bring them in, we have failed to catch Paul's motives or his message. Finally, and most significantly for this book, we should note that nothing in this passage suggests wives' subordination. The only indicator that could be taken to mean that is the statement that man is woman's 'head;, but 'head' in those days was capable of a variety of meanings, and nothing in this text indicates that it means subordination. As many scholars have been pointing out in the past few years, if we want this passage to teach subordination, we have to read subordination into the passage. The only clear affirmations here, besides that men and women are different and should not conceal that fact, is the equality and mutual dependence of men and women. (47). - - - - (2) Questions about Questions - 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 (p70) “... the most likely interpretation of 1 Cor 14:34-35: Paul was addressing relatively uneducated women who were disrupting the service with irrelevant questions. The immediate remedy for this situation was for them to stop asking such question; the long-term solution was to educate them.” 70 “forbid all speaking..? “leaning over to whisper?”71 “The context is the best place to begin looking for clues. Women are not the only ones on whom Paul enjoins silence under certain circumstances. 'Silence' is also preferred to using the gifts out of order (1 Cor 14:28-29); if no interpreter were available, tongues-speakers were to pray in tongues only to themselves, and prophets were to restrict their speech voluntarily if another arose with a message from God. In the context, 'silence' thus relates to keeping the church service orderly.” 72 Why Were the Women Questioning? (81) When Paul suggests that husbands should teach their wives at home, his point is not to belittle women's ability to learn. To the contrary, Paul is advocating the most progressive view of this day: despite the possibility that she is less educated than himself, the husband should recognize his wife's intellectual capability and therefore make himself responsible for her education, so they can discuss intellectual issues together. (84). Paul proposes teaching one's wife at home as a long range solution to the lack of biblical education that characterized the inappropriate questioning. (85) Conclusion: (88) “Paul's' point is that those who do not know the Bible very well should not set the pace for the learning in the Christian congregation; they should instead receive private attention catch them up to the basics of christian instruction that the rest of the congregation already knows. In Corinth, the issue had come to a head with uneducated women interrupting the scripture expositions with questions. Paul suggested a short-range and a long-range solution to the problem in his instructions on how to bring order back to the corinthians' church services. The short-range solution was that the women were to stop interrupting the service; the long-range solution was that they were to learn the knowledge they had been lacking.” (88). - - - (3) Learning in Silence – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (p101) We now come to the only explicit prohibition in the entire Bible against women teaching, and one of only two texts that seem to appeal to the creation order to subordinate women in some manner (the other enjoins only that women cover their heads). (101) {Eph 5:31 also appeals to the creation order, but it does so in order to establish the opposite point, namely, the unity of husband and wife and therefore their mutual service and dependence.}(Footnote#1, p121) It would be surprising if an issue that would exclude at least half the body of Christ from a ministry of teaching would be addressed in only one text, unless that text really addressed only a historical situation rather than setting forth a universal prohibition. Since this passage seems to conflict with other passages where Paul commends the ministries of women, we will examine the cultural situation that may be addressed here. (101) THE CONTEXT: PUBLIC PRAYER (p102) This passage, like 1 Corinthians 11, seems to assume women's right to pray in public. That Paul's instructions about women's apparel and teaching deal with women's role in public prayer is suggested by his admonitions to men about prayer in the preceding context.(2:1ff) … In this context of prayer, Paul specifically calls on the men to pray in a certain way – forsaking anger and conflict. This could reflect conflict among the men in the church (1 Tim 3:3; 6:4-5), or a more widespread association of anger with the male gender. … Although the grammar is not clear on this point, the “likewise” of 2:9 probably suggests that Paul, who has just instructed the men how to pray, now turns to instructing the women in the same way. As in 1 Corinthians 11, women are not silenced in [103] church; they are permitted to pray. Since most synagogue prayers were offered by men, this freedom is significant. But the fact that Paul's' exhortations to them are more detailed than those given to en indicates that there are some special problems relating to the women in the Ephesian congregation, and these problems break down naturally into two categories of exhortation, one concerning dress codes, and the other concerning teaching.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul,

    This is really a tale of two books. I found the section on women in positions of authority well-researched and plausible. Keener gives lots of evidence and examples of how women served the earliest church as prophetesses, ministers, and teachers with authority. That implies that we must interpret other troublesome texts in light of what we know was actually happening in the church. Unfortunately, some of Keener's reasoning here is still a bit weak, but his evidence makes up for it. In fact, it i This is really a tale of two books. I found the section on women in positions of authority well-researched and plausible. Keener gives lots of evidence and examples of how women served the earliest church as prophetesses, ministers, and teachers with authority. That implies that we must interpret other troublesome texts in light of what we know was actually happening in the church. Unfortunately, some of Keener's reasoning here is still a bit weak, but his evidence makes up for it. In fact, it is worth the price of the book to read the last chapter, "Women's Ministries Elsewhere in Paul". This chapter goes outside of the hard passages to obvious, easy passages that show how the church was working and how Paul responded to it. It includes discussion on the ministry of Priscilla, Phoebe the minister, Junia the apostle, as well as his obvious approval of women as prophetesses in 1 Corinthians 11:5. Unfortunately, the second part of the book is about the role of women in marriage. I believe that Keener may hold the right position, an egalitarian one. But his argumentation is very weak. The idea that women were commanded to submit to their husbands as a social issue doesn't make any sense in light of the obvious persecution of Christians for rejecting the imperial cult. What is a little more counter-cultural marriage on top of that? Nothing. I was hoping for something better. So, good evidence, a good position, but poor argumentation. Worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donner Tan

    Craig Keener has given us a clear, even-handed and updated exegetical work on the well-known 'problem texts' that hierarchichalists (otherwise known as complementarians) appeal to as advocating a subordinate role for women in the church and at home - namely 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:12-15 and Eph 5:21-33. Keener argues persuasively that a straightforward reading of these texts does not necessarily do justice to their proper interpretation as these are part of Paul's epistolary address to s Craig Keener has given us a clear, even-handed and updated exegetical work on the well-known 'problem texts' that hierarchichalists (otherwise known as complementarians) appeal to as advocating a subordinate role for women in the church and at home - namely 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:12-15 and Eph 5:21-33. Keener argues persuasively that a straightforward reading of these texts does not necessarily do justice to their proper interpretation as these are part of Paul's epistolary address to specific churches who were struggling with certain contextual issues. Reading up the cultural and historical background of the first century setting is essential to the task of biblical interpretation. In 1 Cor 11, he argues that 'kephale' is best interpreted as 'source' rather than 'authority over' in light of the context where Paul draws the parallel between 'woman came from man' and 'man being born of woman'. Yet, even if for the sake of argument, one should grant that kephale should mean 'head' in the authoritative sense, Paul is simply speaking to a patriarchal culture in which man is assumed to be the head of the woman and he is contextualizing his message to that culture without necessarily sanctioning or universalizing it. He counsels that women should exercise their God-given gifts to pray and prophesy in the public assembly without undermining gender distinctions by adopting the appropriate cultural symbols - in this case, the headcover. The point is to preserve gender mutuality and not gender hierarchy. In 1 Cor 14, the injunction for 'women to keep silent in the churches' has specific reference to women asking (silly) questions and disrupting the assembly. This is a temporal and local pastoral measure aimed at the lack of education of the women at that time. The counsel for them to learn from their husbands at home was with a view that they could get up to speed in their learning of the scripture. This was already a departure from the then prevailing cultural bias against women studying the sacred texts at all since they were considered spiritually inferior. In 1 Tim 2, Paul's prohibition for women to teach man should be understood against the background of false teachers in the Ephesian church who were worming around and preying on the women folks who were less educated and hence more vulnerable to being deceived. Unless Paul shares the cultural degrading of the woman's moral and intellectual abilities of his day, the text is not appealing to a universal order of creation that subordinates women permanently, as some hierarchichalists claim. Rather, Paul is drawing an *analogy* between the situation in Ephesus and the fall of Adam and Eve. Part of the parallels is that Eve was not there when the command was given - which was the implication of the statement 'Adam was formed first, then Eve'. In other words, Adam was given the headstart in receiving religious instructions compared to Eve. Paul's counsel therefore was for the women to learn in quiet submission because they were lagging behind in religious instruction due to the social conditions in which they lived and not because women were inherently more gullible. Lastly, in Eph 5 Paul's speaking to the man as 'head of the wife' is another exercise in contextualization. He assumes the familial structure of the typical Greco-Roman household, that is largely patriarchal, as a given context of his pastoral work. What is revolutionary is that he juxtaposes that structure with the model of Christ's headship over the church and calls the man to lay down his life for his wife as Christ did for the church. There is nothing more submissive than that! It is this sort of sensitive and contextual approach that Paul uses to turn the oppressive structure of the old social order on its head. Keener goes on to use the hermeneutical history of the issue of slavery as a test case, arguing that Gal 3:28 underscores the trajectory from the NT text that is to be realized as the church comes to grasp more fully the implications of our oneness in Christ. This is admittedly a good point, often made by egalitarians to further strengthen their case. To be complete though, perhaps, I wish that Keener would devote another chapter addressing the common fear, however misplaced, among some conservative evangelicals that the same trajectory could on the other hand be a short route from 'ordaining gay ministers'. Much else can be said and harvested from this book, but I thought I would stop at summarizing the salient points of Keener's egalitarian reading, as I understand it, of these pertinent Pauline texts concerning women's ministry and raising a concern of where the egalitarian reading could potentially lead, or so it is argued by the other side.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I was unconvinced by Keener’s argument in chapter 6 that examining slavery in Ephesians 6 provided an appropriate model for interpreting women’s submission. But excluding that chapter, his examination of Paul’s texts was well-researched, well thought out, and a rare example of a kind and level-headed discussion of the topic. It’s definitely worth a read, and full of references to further resources for the interested reader.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie Mason

    I really enjoyed Keener's examination of "problematic" scripture. I appreciate how Keener delves into why Paul wrote what he wrote and what Paul was trying to say, which can run counter to what we read in the 21st Century. We have to be able to read the Bible in its context and apply it to our lives. Not try to force our lives into a 1st century context. I really enjoyed Keener's examination of "problematic" scripture. I appreciate how Keener delves into why Paul wrote what he wrote and what Paul was trying to say, which can run counter to what we read in the 21st Century. We have to be able to read the Bible in its context and apply it to our lives. Not try to force our lives into a 1st century context.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Pennington

    Very good thorough book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Schuster

    Really insightful with lots of parallels you see in current times.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grace Lynch

    Great read! It made a lot of interesting points, and I enjoyed rethinking about how women are spoken about in the Bible!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jen S

    Keener is a brilliant, dedicated, compassionate, godly man and makes compelling arguments solidly based in biblical and historical context.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chesna

    Wanting in some ways, certainly, and only deals with Paul, but all in all probably the best introductory single volume on egalitarianism I've read. Wanting in some ways, certainly, and only deals with Paul, but all in all probably the best introductory single volume on egalitarianism I've read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rick Hogaboam

    I have the utmost respect for Dr. Keener. I've been privileged to interact with him, and he's always been gracious to assist me in various matters of research. This volume here is simply a must-read for anyone working through the issue of women and wives in the NT context. Whether you agree with his conclusions of what I'd describe as the "complementarity without hierarchy" position, it will force you to dig deeper in elaborating an opposing opinion. I have some more to ponder and research in li I have the utmost respect for Dr. Keener. I've been privileged to interact with him, and he's always been gracious to assist me in various matters of research. This volume here is simply a must-read for anyone working through the issue of women and wives in the NT context. Whether you agree with his conclusions of what I'd describe as the "complementarity without hierarchy" position, it will force you to dig deeper in elaborating an opposing opinion. I have some more to ponder and research in light of this volume. And Keener's also enjoyable to read, interjecting some humor on occasions.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Fantastic read. Keener argues for an egalitarian view on women in both ministry and marriage, giving an in-depth treatment of the various New Testament passages attributed to the Apostle Paul that have been historically used to justify female subordination. It offered a fresh take on these passages in light of their literary and cultural context, ultimately rescuing Paul from misogynistic interpretations that, as Keener argues, do not accurately reflect the originally intended message of the apo Fantastic read. Keener argues for an egalitarian view on women in both ministry and marriage, giving an in-depth treatment of the various New Testament passages attributed to the Apostle Paul that have been historically used to justify female subordination. It offered a fresh take on these passages in light of their literary and cultural context, ultimately rescuing Paul from misogynistic interpretations that, as Keener argues, do not accurately reflect the originally intended message of the apostle.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I appreciated this book a lot. His perspective as a scholar is excellent and the depth on the passages that he focused on was impressive. I would have loved to have had the book not just focus on Paul and to get his perspective and research on the topic from the Bible as a whole.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I highly recommend this book. Whether you are an egalitarian or complementarian, Keener's treatment is worth engaging. He argues for full inclusion of women in ministry on exegetical grounds, rather than simply appealing to experience. An engaging and thought-provoking book. I highly recommend this book. Whether you are an egalitarian or complementarian, Keener's treatment is worth engaging. He argues for full inclusion of women in ministry on exegetical grounds, rather than simply appealing to experience. An engaging and thought-provoking book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Quient

    A strong socio-rhetorical egalitarian reading of the verse usually used to subordinate woman. The historical analysis is astounding and Keener marshals a practical encyclopedias' worth of knowledge about the debate. Highly recommended. Second to Philip Payne's masterpiece. A strong socio-rhetorical egalitarian reading of the verse usually used to subordinate woman. The historical analysis is astounding and Keener marshals a practical encyclopedias' worth of knowledge about the debate. Highly recommended. Second to Philip Payne's masterpiece.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    While I don't agree with all of his positions and conclusions, this book is amazing. It is well-researched and compelling. It is certainly a book that requires further reflection. While I don't agree with all of his positions and conclusions, this book is amazing. It is well-researched and compelling. It is certainly a book that requires further reflection.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Clinton

    An excellent exploration of the cultural contexts that framed Paul's discussion of women in marriage and ministry. An excellent exploration of the cultural contexts that framed Paul's discussion of women in marriage and ministry.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    15.00

  23. 5 out of 5

    Радостин Марчев

    Балансирано написана и почиваща на изключително добро изследване на документите свързани с културната обстановка. Силно препоръчителна.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Monty C. Wright

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alan Garrett

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heidi G

  27. 4 out of 5

    Madeline Conn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan Bouchelle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Clayton Norman

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