Last updated in October, 2002.

About this List
Key to Annotation

Part 1: Where do I Start?
Part 2: Biblical Studies.
Part 3. Historical Studies.
Part 4: Theological Studies.
Part 5: Pastoral Concerns.

 

About this List

This is a list of resources to aid those who wish to explore issues of gender justice. The annotations will help you select items that pertain most directly to your particular question(s) and will sometimes indicate whether an article is easy to read or demands an advanced level of expertise.

The list includes multiple approaches to some questions and texts. Neither the list compilers nor the supporters of gal328.org endorse every view of every author on the list. But we invite you to explore how various Christians have approached questions of gender justice, to become better informed about the issues, and to reach your own conclusions.

When possible, titles are linked to pages where they can be purchased online. Gal328.org receives a small commision (usually 5%) on purchases made through links to Amazon.com. Proceeds will be used to defray the costs of keeping the site online.

Key to Annotations

CRH Christopher R. Hutson, Associate Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University.
DP Dale Pauls, minister of the Stamford, CT, Church of Christ.
LP Lance Pape, Granville and Erline Walker Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Brite Divinity School, is one of the original founders and first editor of gal328.org.


Part 1: Where Do I Start? Five good places to begin thinking about gender equity in the church.

 

Just to get your feet wet:

Leaven 4.2 (1996). 

This entire issue is devoted to articles on the topic of women and ministry. CRH
(This issue is no longer available in print. A few of the articles are available on our articles page. LP)

 

Rowland, Robert H. “I Permit Not a Woman…” to Remain Shackled. Newport, OR: Lighthouse Publishing, 1991.

Rowland is a retired administrator at Columbia Christian College and Oklahoma Christian University and a former elder in Oklahoma. Rowland is thorough, but, as compared with Keener or Witherington, he presents the case in a more simplified, less technical manner. His twenty chapters include discussion questions and exercises that would work well in an adult Bible Study class. Rowland’s strength is his specific focus on making the case to members of the Churches of Christ. This is a good place to begin, though concerned readers will want to follow this by reading other, more detailed works. CRH

 

Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Women, Men, and the Bible. Revised edition, New York: Crossroad, 1989. 

A concise, accessible book that focuses mainly on the theological framework within which one reads the Bible. Includes lesson plans and discussion questions for each chapter, so that the book could serve as a group study guide. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

Osburn, Carroll. Women in the Church: Reclaiming the Ideal. Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2001.

Osburn considers two alternatives, egalitarianism and complementarianism, in light of relevant biblical texts. He argues that Genesis 1-3 and 1 Corinthians 11 are the key texts, rather than Galatians 3, 1 Corinthians 14, and 1 Timothy 2. He concludes that neither approach finds a mandate in scripture, but that “egalitarianism is preferable in terms of biblical exegesis and the ideals of the kingdom.” In practice, he suggests that this “means that women should be able to do anything of which they are capable and in which they are trained…” LP

 

Keener, Craig S. Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992.

This is perhaps the most responsible and comprehensive single-author coverage of the various applicable biblical texts and their social contexts currently available. This is a “must read,” and those who insist on ongoing female subordination must grasp Keener’s arguments and respond persuasively. DP

 

Part 2: Biblical Studies.

What does the Bible say about women in ministry? The following resources will provide a new set of lenses through which you will see some things in Scripture that you may not have noticed before. And you may discover that some things you thought you saw in the text were merely the centuries-old dust on your old lenses.

Women in the New Testament/Early Christianity (General).

 

Just to get your feet wet:

Evans, Mary J. Woman in the Bible: An Overview of all the Crucial Passages on Women’s Roles. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1983.

A concise statement of the major arguments for female equality in the church, from a conservative, Evangelical viewpoint. CRH

 

Belleville, Linda L. Women Leaders and the Church: Three Crucial Questions. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Belleville is not blazing a new trail here, but she concisely synthesizes most of the best current scholarship on the side of gender equality into plain language for average believers. Along the way, she gives attention to both the Jewish and the Greco-Roman cultural contexts of the New Testament, offering a clear survey of the big picture and more detailed discussion of the hot passages. She is an Evangelical writing for other conservative Christians and demonstrates once again that gender justice is not an issue only for theological liberals. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

 

Banks, Robert. Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in their Historical Setting. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

Of primary importance for our study is chapter 12, “The Contribution of Women in the Church.” Of secondary interest are chapter 5, “The Community as a Family;” chapter 9, “Gifts and Ministry;” and chapter 10, “Charisma and Order.” LP

 

Bilezikian, Gilbert. Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family. Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985.

Easy to read, though the exegesis is sometimes mushy. Argues, among other things, for interpreting “head” in the sense of “source” in 1 Cor 11. Evangelical perspective. CRH

 

Bruce, Frederick F. “The Enigma of Paul: Why did the Early Church’s Great Liberator get a Reputation as an Authoritarian?” Bible Review 4 (August 1988): 32-33.

A readable, brief interpretation of Paul’s view toward women by a well-respected scholar near the end of his life. It is especially valuable as a summary of Bruce’s position in his many published works. LP

 

Keener, Craig S. Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1992.

Writing from an Evangelical perspective , Keener digests the complex interpretational issues surrounding the crucial NT passages and orients general readers to the massive secondary literature. Though his exegesis of specific passages is sometimes thin, he presents the case in much greater detail than, e.g., Evans. CRH

This is perhaps the most responsible and comprehensive single-author coverage of the various applicable biblical texts and their social contexts currently available. This is a “must read,” and those who insist on ongoing female subordination must grasp Keener’s arguments and respond persuasively. The discussion of Eph. 5:18-33 is especially thorough. Keener reminds us that Paul is addressing the power structures of his day, not mandating the same power structures for all time. Paul is directing his readers in the setting in which they lived; he is not making their setting valid for eternity. Consequently, we must understand the difference between what God has put up with in less than ideal circumstances and the loving ideal for which we should strive as we have opportunity. Particularly insightful is the chapter “A Model for Interpreting Wives’ Submission — Slaves in Ephesians 6:5-9” (pp. 184-224). DP

 

MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.

Explores misreadings of Paul in the second-century, focusing on the legends about Paul and Thecla, and argues that the Pastoral Epistles were written to combat such “old wives’ tales.” Even those who are unpersuaded by MacDonald’s interpretation of the Pastoral Epistles, will find this an entertaining introduction to women in 2nd-century Christianity.

 

Mickelsen, Alvera, Editor. Women, Authority & the Bible. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986.

This book is a collection of essays and responses by various highly-regarded evangelical Bible scholars and represents well the emerging evangelical consensus. If you can read only one article on this entire subject, I would recommend from this book Richard N. Longenecker’s “Authority, Hierarchy & Leadership Patterns in the Bible” (pp. 66-85). DP

 

Osburn, Carroll, Editor. Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity. Two volumes. Joplin: College Press, 1993, 1995.

Collection of essays by scholars in the Church of Christ and Christian Church. Essays are of uneven quality, but they give an important overview of some newer lines of thinking among scholars in these churches. CRH

 

Osburn, Carroll. Women in the Church: Reclaiming the Ideal. Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2001.

Osburn considers two alternatives, egalitarianism and complementarianism, in light of relevant biblical texts. He argues that Genesis 1-3 and 1 Corinthians 11 are the key texts, rather than Galatians 3, 1 Corinthians 14, and 1 Timothy 2. He concludes that neither approach finds a mandate in scripture, but that “egalitarianism is preferable in terms of biblical exegesis and the ideals of the kingdom.” In practice, he suggests that this “means that women should be able to do anything of which they are capable and in which they are trained…” LP

 

Sandifer, J. Stephen. Deacons: Male and Female? A Study for Churches of Christ. Houston: J. Stephen Sandifer, 1989.

This study, published by the author, collects historical evidence for the use of the term “deacon” in early Judaism, the New Testament, and through the history of Christianity, including the Restoration Movement. CRH

 

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. New York: Crossroad, 1988.

A re-reading of the NT which pushes a radical feminist hermeneutic as hard as it is possible to push while still attempting to take the text seriously. CRH

 

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth, editor. Searching the Scriptures. Two volumes. New York: Crossroad, 1993-94.

Volume one contains twenty-four essays on the theory and practice of biblical interpretation from leading feminist scholars around the world. The essays consider the varieties of social contexts from which women read Scripture; problems with patriarchal methods of interpertation; proposals for methods of interpretation that make room for women’s voices; and proposals for presenting a more egalitarian face within the life of the Church. Volume two contains forty expository articles on specific texts from ancient Judaism and early Christianity, including both canonical and non-canonical texts. These essays do not focus so much on the minutiae of individual verses as present overall strategies for reading whole letters, gospels and other texts. CRH

 

Stendahl, Krister. The Bible and the Role of Women: A Case Study in Hermeneutics. Translated by Emilie T. Sander, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966.

 

Witherington, Ben, III. Women in the Earliest Churches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

A broad and fair-minded treatment of the crucial passages in the NT with more detailed exegesis than Keener offers. Presumes knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Resources on the Gospels and Acts.

Seim, Turid Karlsen. The Double Message: Patterns of Gender in Luke-Acts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994.

In wrestling with the literary and historical contexts of Lukan stories about women, Seim faces honestly the ambuguity of the text that both presents women as strong models for ministry and supports traditional male and female domestic spheres. Too many interpreters acknowledge only one of these aspects or the other, but Seim is more interested in understanding the text than in bending it to fit an ideological preconception. All sides in the gender debates can learn from Seim’s careful exegesis. CRH

 

Resources on Romans.

Arichea, Daniel. “Who was Phoebe? Translating diakoneo in Romans 16:1.” The Bible Translator 39 (1988): 401-409.

In keeping with the journal’s stated purpose, this article evaluates the various translations of this verse and makes a recommendation as to its probable meaning. The author takes into account both contextual and etymological factors. LP Note: Presumes knowledge of Greek.

 

Burer, Michael H., & Daniel B. Wallace. “Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7.” New Testament Studies 47.1 (2001). 76-91.

Most studies of Junia in Rom 16:7 are preoccupied with the gender of the name, assuming that Junia’s apostolic status is not in doubt. But, as a rule, episemos with a genitive indicates an inclusive comparison (“outstanding among”), while episemos with (en plus) the dative indicates an elative notion (“very”) without implying inclusion (“well-known to”). Grammatically, then, Paul says that Junia was “well known to the apostles,” and he does not say directly that she was herself a missionary. This still leaves open the question of why Junia was “outstanding” and why translators have often tried to read her as a man, but egalitarians should take note of this study. Presumes knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Hutson, Christopher R. “Laborers in the Lord: Romans 16 and the Women in Pauline Churches.” Leaven 4.2 (Spring, 1996). 29-31, 40.

Uses Romans 16 as “wide-angle lens” to examine the various roles women played in Pauline churches. This entire issue of Leaven is devoted to the issue of women’s roles in the churches. CRH

 

Lampe, Peter. “The Roman Christians of Romans 16.” In K. P. Donfried, editor. The Romans Debate. Second edition. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991. 216-230.

Pp. 222-224 analyzes the descriptions of women mentioned in Romans 16, reaching conclusions similar to those of Hutson. Argues conclusively that Junia was a woman, since no man’s name “Junias” existed in antiquity. CRH

 

Richardson, Peter. “From Apostles to Virgins: Romans 16 and the Roles of Women in the Early Church.” Toronto Journal of Theology 2 (Fall 1986): 232-261.

 

Schulz, Ray. “Romans 16:7: Junia or Junias?” The Expository Times 98 (January 1987): 108-110.

Romans 16:7 presents a problem for interpreters. A divided manuscript tradition and the unaccented nature of pre-13th century texts combine to complicate the determination of the gender of the person referred to in Paul’s greeting. This article by Schulz provides a straightforward presentation and critique of all relevant data. LP

 

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth. “Missionaries, Apostles, Coworkers: Romans 16 and the Reconstruction of Women’s Early Christian History.”Word & World 6, 4 (Fall 1986): 420-433.

Fiorenza applies the same methodology developed in her thematic study In Memory of Her to reconstruct the role of the many women greeted and recommended in Romans 16. Her discussion includes highly detailed and historically informed profiles of Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, and Junia. Fiorenza argues that when the androcentric interpretive lens is removed, we see evidence that the teaching ministry and leadership roles of the early church were shared equally between men and women. LP

 

Thorley, John. “Junia, a Woman Apostle.” Novum Testamentum 38.1 (1996). 18-29.

Presumes knowledge of Greek.


Resources on 1 Corinthians.

BeDuhn, Jason David. ” ‘Because of the Angels’: Unveiling Paul’s Anthropology in 1 Corinthians 11.” Journal of Biblical Literature 118.2 (1999). 295-320.

Argues that 11:10 alludes to the role of angels as agents of creation in Genesis 2. The separation of male and female from one another was a corruption of the original created order in which there was “no male and female.”

 

Cukrowski, Ken. “The Problem of Uncovered Prophets: Exploring 1 Cor 11:2-16.” Leaven (2001). 138-145. 

Too many interpreters focus on discreet verses without making sense of Paul’s whole argument. This is a concise discussion of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 in plain language. Cukrowski gives attention to numerous details in this passage that are hard to understand, and he tries to show how the elements fit together into a coherent argument. He is especially helpful in placing this passage in its historical and cultural context. CRH

 

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. “Kephale in I Corinthians 11:3.” Interpretation 47.1 (1993). 52-59.

Fitzmyer conveniently summarizes the extensive debate over whether “head” in 1 Cor 11:3 is a metaphor for “source” or a metaphor for “authority.” He marshalls evidence to show that both usages were live options in the first century. So the issue must be settled exegetically. Fitzmyer argues that the burden of proof rests with those who argue that the metaphor here means “source.” Readers can check the evidence for themselves, but all should beware of drawing simplistic conclusions. Whichever way one reads the metaphor in verse 3, attention must be given to the logic of the whole argument in 11:2-16 in its literary and cultural context. Presumes some knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Jervis, L. Ann. “‘But I Want You to Know…’: Paul’s Midrashic Intertextual Response to the Corinthian Worshipers (1 Cor 11:2-16).” Journal of Biblical Literature 112.2 (1993). 231-246.

Jervis presents a coherent reading of the whole text from an egalitarian perspective. She argues that some Corinthians interpreted Genesis 1 in favor of an asexual divine image, and Paul counters with an argument from Genesis 2 that being in Christ does not obliterate sexual differences. Jervis presumes some knowledge of Greek, but her discussion is lucid and accessible to general, educated readers. CRH

 

Niccum, Curt. “The Voice of the Manuscripts on the Silence of Women: The External Evidence for 1 Cor 14.34-35.” New Testament Studies 43.2 (1997). 242-255.

Some egalitarians try to escape Paul’s apparent chauvinism by doing surgery on the text. They argue that 1 Cor 14:34-35 are not Paul’s words but were inserted by a later scribe. But this technical article points out the weaknesses in such arguments. Rather than snipping these verses out of the text, egalitarians would do well to try to understand them in their literary and historical context. Presumes knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Oster, Richard. “When Men Wore Veils to Worship: The Historical Context of 1 Corinthians 11.4.” New Testament Studies 34 (1988). 481-505. 

Many interpreters do not understand the historical context of 1 Corinthians 11, because they fail to recognize that first-century Corinth was a Roman city, and they fail to deal with the archaeological or literary evidence for Roman worship practices. Oster collects the historical evidence to show that Paul is talking about veils (not hair) and that the issue of men covering their heads for worship can be understood in terms of Roman culture. This evidence should be taken into account in any exegesis of the whole passage. This is a technical article which presumes knowledge of Greek and German, but Oster’s main argument is understandable even for readers who lack facility with these languages. CRH

 

Thompson, Cynthia L. “Hairstyles, Head-Coverings, and St. Paul: Portraits from Roman Corinth.” Biblical Archaeologist 51.2 (1988). 99-115.

This is an excellent collection of photos and ancient texts, with explanatory notes. Understanding Greco-Roman customs concerning hairstyles and clothing appropriate for worship is essential to understanding the cultural context of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. CRH


Resources on Galatians.

Longenecker, Richard. New Testament Social Ethics for Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.

With over half of his book devoted to Galatians 3:28, Longenecker views this important verse as the theological basis for an entire system of social ethics. He argues that Galatians 3:28 has profound implications for the role of women in the Christian community. LP

 

Snodgrass, Klyne. “Galatians 3:28: Conundrum or Solution?” in Mickelsen, Women, Authority & the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986, 161-181.

Snodgrass’ essay explores the various hypotheses concerning the origin of Galatians 3:28 and their importance for exegeting this pivotal text. LP


Resources on Ephesians and Colossians.

Hull, Robert F., Jr. “The Family of Flesh and the Family of Faith: Reflections on the NT Household Codes.” Leaven, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1st Quarter, 2001). 23-28.

For those who want to think about gender justic in terms of marriage and family, this is a good place to begin. Hull summarizes the major insights of Balch and others to show how the idealized families described in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter fit into their ancient, Greco-Roman cultural context, and he discusses how Christianity began to impact ancient cultural assumptions. CRH


Resources on 1 Timothy.

Bassler, Jouette. “Adam, Eve, and the Pastor: The Use of Genesis 2-3 in the Pastoral Epistles.” In Gregory Allen Robbins, editor. Genesis 1-3 in the History of

Exegesis: Intrigue in the Garden. Studies in Women in Religion 27. Lewiston and Queenston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1988. 43-65.
Detailed exegetical study arguing persuasively that the author focuses on the deception of Eve in 1 Tim 2:13-14 for reasons that are historically specific. CRH

 

Hanson, A. T. “Eve’s Transgression: 1 Timothy 2.13-15.” In A. T. Hanson, Studies in the Pastoral Epistles. London: SPCK, 1968. 65-77. 

Explores ancient Jewish interpretations of Genesis 3 as a background to 1 Tim 2. CRH

 

Harris, Timothy. “Why Did Paul Mention Eve’s Deception? A Critique of P. W. Barnett’s Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2.” The Evangelical Quarterly62 (October 1990): 335-352.

Harris’ critique of an article by P. W. Barnett–an article that advocates a conservative interpretation of this text–draws attention to the key issues dividing scholars on this pivotal text. LP

 

Jagt, Krijn A. van der. “Women are Saved Through Bearing Children (1 Timothy 2:11-15).” The Bible Translator 39 (April 1988): 201-208.

Jagt argues that the mention of Eve’s deception and the salvation of women through childbearing (1 Timothy 2:11-15) is parallel to other “cautionary typologies” in the New Testament (esp. 1 Corinthians 10 and 2 Corinthians 11:3). Having established the nature of the allusion to Eve, he argues that the situation in Ephesus occasioned this typological comparison. LP

 

Osburn, Carroll. “Authenteo (1 Timothy 2:12).” Restoration Quarterly25, 1 (1982): 1-12.

Discussion of the meaning of the word that is traditionally translated “usurp authority” in this verse. Presumes some knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Padgett, Alan. “Wealthy Women at Ephesus: 1 Timothy 2:8-15 in Social Context.” Interpretation 41 (January 1987): 19-31.

Padgett’s article is a readable exposition of one plausible social reconstruction of the circumstances giving rise to 1 Timothy 2:8-15. He argues that the false teaching mentioned repeatedly in 1 Timothy was targeted at the women in the Ephesian church. He concludes that the special prohibitions concerning women’s participation hold no universal implications because they were necessitated by a specific and unusual set of circumstances. LP

 

Porter, Stanley E. “What Does It Mean to be ‘saved by Childbirth’ (1 Timothy 2.15)?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 49 (1993). 87-102.

A good, technical analysis of the grammar of this verse. Presumes knowledge of Greek. CRH

 

Scholer, David. “1 Timothy 2:9-15 & the Place of Women in the Church’s Ministry.” in Mickelsen, Women, Authority & the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986, 193-225.

 

Wilshire, Leland Edward. “The TLG Computer and further Reference toauthenteo in 1 Timothy 2:12.” New Testament Studies 34, 1 (1988): 120-134.

Wilshire adds the power of high-tech to the discussion about authenteo and its meaning in 1 Timothy 2:12. His analysis reveals literally hundreds of previously unknown uses of the verb by utilizing a computer database of the complete Greek corpus. The article raises new objections to the previously accepted definition “I have authority.” Presumes knowledge of Greek. LP


Resources on 1 Peter.

Balch, David. Let Wives Be Submissive. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981.

Originally a dissertation, this work deals specifically with the context and purpose of 1 Peter. Balch’s work in social history–especially those aspects of the social context relevant to a study of women in early Christianity–is widely recognized as a ground-breaking contribution to a growing new field. Although this book is focused on the epistle of 1 Peter, it serves well as a general background for reading New Testament texts on women from a socio-historically informed perspective. Also, for the special relationship between 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Peter 3:1-6, see pages 95-105. Presumes knowledge of Greek. DP

 

Hull, Robert F., Jr. “The Family of Flesh and the Family of Faith: Reflections on the NT Household Codes.” Leaven, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1st Quarter, 2001). 23-28.

For those who want to think about gender justic in terms of marriage and family, this is a good place to begin. Hull summarizes the major insights of Balch and others to show how the idealized families described in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter fit into their ancient, Greco-Roman cultural context, and he discusses how Christianity began to impact ancient cultural assumptions. CRH

Women in the Old Testament.

Bird, Phyllis A. Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women and Gender in Ancient Israel. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.

Places familiar Old Testament texts into the cultural context of ancient Israel. Presumes some knowledge of Hebrew. CRH

 

Trible, Phyllis. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978.

A skilled reading of OT stories as literature with emphasis on feminist issues raised by the texts. Chapter 4 treats Genesis 2-3 on its own terms without reading Paul’s views into it. DP

 

Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives.Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Makes use of the method developed in Rhetoric to explore OT stories about abuse of women and violence against women. DP

 

Part 3: Historical Studies.

 

Nothing is really new under the sun or under the cross. There is historical precedent for women in ministry and leadership in ancient Judaism and paganism, in first-century Christianity, throughout the history of Christianity, and even in the Restoration Movement.

 

Women in Ancient Mediterranean Cultural Contexts.

Just to get your feet wet:

Fantham, Elaine, et al., editors. Women in the Classical World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

An up-to-date, illustrated, and well organized introduction to women in all periods of Greco-Roman antiquity. Includes bibliograpies after each chapter. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

Brooten, Bernadette. Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue. Brown Judaic Studies 36. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982.

The most important treatment of inscriptional and archaeological evidence for women leaders in ancient Jewish communities. CRH

 

Dixon, Suzanne. The Roman Family. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 

A first-rate historical study. Chapter 3 on marriage might be helpful for understanding the cultural context of 1 Tim 2. CRH

 

Kraemer, Ross S. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics: A Sourcebook on Women’s Religion in the Greco-Roman World. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

A strong collection of evidence, translated into English, for women’s participation in pagan, Jewish and Christian religions in the Greco-Roman world. CRH

 

Kraemer, Ross S. Her Share of the Blessings: Women’s Religions among Pagans, Jews, and Christians in the Greco-Roman World. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

First-rate study of women in all aspects of pagan, Jewish and Christian religion in the ancient world, constitutes a systematic analysis of evidence compiled in Maenads. CRH

 

Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Women’s Life in Greece & Rome: A Source Book in Translation. Second edition, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

A collection of primary texts in English translation, similar to that in Kraemer, Maenads. Includes texts on women in early Christianity. CRH

 

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1975.

A classic treatment of the place of women in Greek and Roman society. Chapters 7-10 are of particular interest to readers of the NT. CRH

 


Women in the History of Christianity (General)

Just to get your feet wet:

MacHaffie, Barbara J. Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition.Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.

 

Then for more detail:

Clark, Elizabeth, and Herbert Richardson, editors. Women and Religion: The Original Sourcebook of Women in Christian Thought. Revised edition, New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

A collection of primary texts by and about women in all periods of Christian history. CRH

 

Davies, Stevan L. The Revolt of the Widows: The Social World of the Apocryphal Acts. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1980.

Davies explores the phenomenon of Christian women who chose celibacy in order to devote themselves fully to Christian ministry in the second and third centuries. Although this book does not focus on the first century or on biblical texts, it may shed light on the order of “widows” in 1 Timothy 5, and it certainly sheds light on women in ministry in early Christianity. CRH

Torjesen, Karen Jo. When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity. Harper San Francisco, 1993.

Despite an anachronistic title and the occasional historical slips, persuasively argues that with regard to gender, as the church came out from behind closed doors and began to meet in basilicas in the third and fourth centuries, it sold out to its culture by conforming to the strict hierarchical gender roles of Greco-Roman society in order to be more socially acceptable. DP

 


Women in Modern, Western Cultural Contexts.

Bendroth, Margaret Lamberts. Fundamentalism and Gender: 1875 to the Present. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Bendroth traces the complex interplay between Fundamentalist theology and 20th-century American society. She argues that in its beginning the Fundamentalist movement was open to women in ministry and that fundamentilists and neo-evangelicals embraced a theology of gender hierarchy primarily in response to social conditions after WW I and especially after WW II. CRH

 

Noble, David F. A World Without Women: The Christian Clerical Culture of Western Science. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

An excellent survey of the dynamic interplay between church, gender, and society in the history of the West and the premises that shaped it. DP

 

Selby, Gary. “‘Your Daughters Shall Prophesy’: Rhetorical Strategy in the 19th Century Debate over Women’s Right to Preach.” Restoration Quarterly 34.3 (1992). 151-167.

In the 19th century, proponents of women preachers in various denominations commonly argued that for women to preach was (a) in harmony with the central message of the scriptures, and (b) of practical benefit to the church. Selby shows that the theological rationale for women preaching tended to follow from and respond to changes that were already taking place in society. This article serves as a reminder that cultural conditioning affects both sides of the debate. CRH

 

Whites, Lee Ann. “The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender.” In Catherine Clinton & Nina Silber, editors. Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Discusses how gender hierarchy became a particularly explosive issue in the American South during and after the Civil War with lasting consequences. DP

 

Wood, Forrest G. The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Has nothing to do with gender at all, which makes it even more remarkable. The reader will recognize that the same arguments — pro and con — were made 150 years ago in America on matters of faith and race. Much the same insight could be gained by reading Quest for a Christian America, written in 1966 by David Edwin Harrell, a restoration scholar specifically analyzing the Disciples of Christ movement in antebellum and Civil War America. See also Larry E. Tise, Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840 (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1987), especially pp. 116-120, and Richard J. Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993). DP

 


Women in the Restoration Movement.

Just to get your feet wet:

Allen, C. Leonard. Distant Voices: Discovering a Forgotten Past for a Changing Church. Abilene: ACU Press, 1993.

Reveals that our heritage in the Churches of Christ is broader, richer, and more diverse than previously imagined, and that this diversity extends to how we have approached gender roles and expectations. DP

 

Grasham, Bill. “The Role of Women in the American Restoration Movement.” Restoration Quarterly 41.4 (1999). 211-240.

This is a good survey of how the debate over women preachers has ebbed and flowed within the Churches of Christ along with wider cultural attitudes toward women in America over the past two hundred years. It serves also as a useful collection of references to women leaders in the early generations of the Restoration Movement. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

Hutson, Christopher R., and Hans Rollmann, editors. “Women in the Restoration Movement”.

An on-line collection of primary documents illustrating the roles of women in the pioneering generations of the Restoration Movement. The site also includes some secondary studies about Restoration Movement women in the 19th century. CRH

 

Sandifer, J. Stephen. Deacons: Male and Female? A Study for Churches of Christ. Houston: J. Stephen Sandifer, 1989.

This self-published study by a Church of Christ minister in Texas collects historical evidence for the use of the term “deacon” in early Judaism, the New Testament, and through the history of Christianity, including the Restoration Movement. CRH

 

Part 4: Theological Studies.

 

How does the idea of gender equity in the church fit with our understanding of the cross, of the nature of God, of salvation, and so on? These resources will help you think theologically about gender and help orient you to the variety of perspectives that go under the umbrella “feminism.”

 

Just to get your feet wet:

Japinga, Lynn. Feminism and Christianity: An Essential Guide. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999.

For readers who are wary of the term “feminist” because it is associated with all sorts of negative impressions of radical, militant crusaders, this is an excellent place to begin. Japinga presents a concise, low-key orientation to the lay of the land in feminist theology, including helpful descriptions of various streams of thought and methods under the broad umbrella “feminist theology.” The book is organized topically along the lines of a systematic theology, the book presents feminist perspectives on the Bible, God, Christology, Human Nature and Sin, Salvation, and the Church. CRH

 

Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Women, Men, and the Bible. Revised edition, New York: Crossroad, 1989.

This is a concise, accessible book that focuses mainly on the theological framework within which one reads the Bible. Includes lesson plans and discussion questions for each chapter, so that the book could serve as a group study guide. CRH

 

Rose, Floyd E. An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Break the Chains. Columbus, GA: Brentwood Christian Press, 2002.

This brief book (the argument is only 43 pages) is a call to action for Churches of Christ. Floyd argues forcefully that discrimination based on gender is essentially the same as discrimination based on skin color. It is impossible to support the one and oppose the other. Readers will seek more nuanced and detailed discussions of Bible passages elsewhere, but no one makes the case for gender justice with more frankness and passion than Rose. Order ($10.00 + 2.00 shipping & handling) from Save our Children, Inc., 4001 Foxborough Blvd., Valdosta, Georgia 31602, Phone: 229/241-0705. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

Baker-Fletcher, Karen. Sisters of Dust, Sisters of Spirit. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.

Baker-Fletcher eschews theological jargon and technical mumbo-jumbo in favor of a conversational style. Her ruminations draw you into her world of African American women. She invites you to look at the world from her perspective. It’s like walking through a garden and contemplating God manifest in flowers you never noticed before. CRH

 

Isasi-Díaz, Ada María, & Yolanda Tarango. Hispanic Women: Prophetic Voice in the Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

This is an inductive approach to studying theology. The authors do not present a systematic theology but a study of what Hispanic women actually believe about religion and theology. They interview women from around the USA, both native citizens and immigrants, from all walks of life, and especially from several countries of origin (e.g., Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia). They present the women’s own voices on various theological topics and then comment on “recurring themes” in the women’s answers. The result is an interesting introduction to feminist theology from a Latina perspective. CRH

 

Isasi-Díaz, Ada María. En La Lucha, In the Struggle: Elaborating a Mujerista Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

This book has become a minor classic on the topic of Mujerista theology. “Mujerista” is the author’s term for “a Hispanic woman who struggles to liberate herself not as an individual but as a member of the Hispanic community,” broadly conceived. Isasi-Díaz continues the inductive approach begun in Hispanic Women but expands the projectShe presents follow-up interviews along with additional elaboration and comment. CRH

 

Patte, Daniel. Ethics of Biblical Interpretation. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.

For those who have read Mollenkott, Women, Men, and the Bible, and wish to keep going, this is a good next step. Patte provides help to white, male, European-Americans. Writing part memoir and part constructive theology, he argues that men like himself need not give up their gender or ethnic identities in order to be responsible biblical interpreters and sensitive to feminist questions. What is needed is for such men to admit to themselves that their viewpoint is not an inherently “neutral” or “objective” viewpoint. Only then can they realize the necessity both to acknowledge their own limitations and to ask other interpreters–who are also limited but who have different perspectives–what they see in the text. This opens the way for a more honest conversation about what the text means for Christians today. CRH

 

Riddle, Paul W. “The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Role of Women in Churches of Christ.” Restoration Quarterly 43.3 (2001). 147-54.

Drawing from the work of Jürgen Moltmann and Catherine La Cugna, Riddle argues that the doctrine of the Trinity in Western traditions has been dominated by a hierarchical model that originated with Augustine. Against this, a relational model of the Trinity, as expressed in the Cappadocian Fathers and continued in Orthodox traditions, offers a more fruitful basis for thinking about gender equity. The “Eastern” model of the Trinity emphasizes the coequality and interdependence among the three persons on the Trinity. Those who find Riddle’s discussion intriguing and wish to pursue it should consider Paul S. Fiddes, Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity(Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2000), which surveys the development of the doctrine of the Trinity and reflects on its pastoral implications. CRH

 

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology. Tenth Anniversary Edition, Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is a classic in the field. Readers who are used to a religion that begins and ends with the Bible may be put off by Ruether’s broad approach, employing tools of comparative religion and anthropology. But she brings it all to bear on our assumptions about the Bible and traditional Christian theology. CRH

 

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Women and Redemption: A Theological History. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.

This is a historical theology, tracing how gender has been understood by Christian thinkers from the New Testament through Augustine and the Scholastics to the Quakers and Shakers and down to modern feminist theologians. Among the last group, Ruether provides an orientation to the differences among Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista theologies and how those vary in North America, Latin America, and Africa. CRH

 

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.

This is, of course, a novel and not a book of theology. But Walker is noteworthy for having coined the term “womanist” as a distinctive African American perspective on feminist theology. There is no better place to begin to understand womanist thought than the conversation between Shug and Celie concerning the nature of God (pp. 164-168). Don’t just rent the movie. Read the book. CRH

 

Weems, Renita J. “Reading Her Way through the Struggle: African American Women and the Bible.” In Cain Hope Felder, editor. Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Hermeneutics. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.

Black women as readers of the Bible have been marginalized in two ways. First, as slaves they were forbidden to read. Then as free women they were instructed that the only legitimate way to read was from a male perspective. Weems offers some suggestions for recovering the muffled voices of the marginalized and oppressed characters within biblical texts. CRH

 

 

Part 5: Pastoral Concerns.

 

Okay, so you’re intellectually convinced that gender equality in ministry is biblically and theologically right. How do you put your beliefs into practice without having everything fall apart? The following resources will help with the anxieties of making the change.

 

Just to get your feet wet:

Love, D’Esta. “Why Am I Afraid?” Leaven 4.2 (1996). 4-6.

Love, former Dean of Students and now Chaplain of Pepperdine University, addresses honestly and sincerely the internal conflicts involved in taking a new step, even after one is intellectually convinced. This entire issue of Leaven is devoted to the issue of women’s roles in the churches. CRH

 

Watson, Paul. “Are Women to Pray and Prophesy (1 Cor 11:5) or Are Women to Remain Silent (1 Cor 14:34)? Some Pastoral Implications of an Exegesis of 1 Cor 14:34-35.” Leaven 9.3 (2001). 160-164.

Watson, the pulpit minister and an elder at the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ in Durham, North Carolina, describes how that congregation studied what the Bible says about women and how they reached a congregational consensus for change. He then describes how they revisited the questions several years later, by which time the consensus had moved. Watson offers calm and level-headed pastoral advice for any congregation that wants to avoid pitfalls as they explore these issues. CRH

 

Then for more detail:

Becker, Carol E. Leading Women: How Church Women Can Avoid Leadership Traps and Negotiate the Gender Maze. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.

Becker, a Lutheran, offers an easy-to-read book filled with practical tips for both men and women. She warns about common pitfalls for churches that begin to incorporate women in to leadership positions. CRH

 

Purvis, Sally B. The Stained Glass Ceiling: Churches and Their Women Pastors. Louisville: Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1995.

Purvis offers case studies of two female pastors in Atlanta, one Episcopal and one Presbyterian, each the first woman pastor of her denomination in that city, called to their ministries in 1985 and 1991, respectively. Detailed ethnographic descriptions of the two congregations illustrate that there is no “one size fits all,” when it comes to women in the ministy of a local congregation. Styles, issues, and obstacles are specific to congregations. Purvis does not draw general conclusions about what will or could or ought to happen when a congregation calls a woman minister, but the stories she tells will help mitigate the “strangeness” and aleviate apprehensions about having a woman minister. CRH

 

Silvey, Billie, Editor. Trusting Women. Orange, CA: New Leaf Books, 2002.

Nineteen women tell about their lives of ministry in Churches of Christ. Representing a spectrum of positions from traditional to progressive, these essays remind readers on both sides of the gender justice debate that the views and experiences of women are just as diverse as those of men. LP