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Paul’s View of Women in the Church

In this thread I have been talking about the role of women in the early church, starting with the ministry of Jesus, then in the churches of Paul (the first churches we have any real record of). In this post I continue by reflecting on Paul’s actual *views* of women; this strikes me as a particularly important topic since Paul is frequently condemned as the first Christian misogynist (or at least one of the first bad ones). Is that justified? The following represents some of my reflections as found in my discussion in my textbook on the NT for university students.

The apostle Paul did not know the man Jesus nor, probably, any of his women followers. Moreover, many of the things that Paul proclaimed in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection varied from the original message heard by the disciples in Galilee. For one thing, Paul believed that the end had already commenced with the victory over the forces of evil that had been won at Jesus’ cross and sealed at his resurrection. Not that the victory was by any means yet complete, but it had at least begun. This victory brought newness of life, the beginning if not the fulfillment of the new age. For this reason, everyone who was baptized into Christ was “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:16). And a new creation at least *implied* a new social order: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:27-28).

No male and female in Christ? This was a radical message in an age in which everyone “knew” that males and females were inherently different, as I will explain in a later post.

 

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Like Jesus himself, however, Paul does not seem to have urged a social revolution in light of his theological conviction — ust as he did not urge the abolition of slavery even though he claimed that “in Christ” slave and free were “equal”; possibly I’ll post later on what’s really going on in the letter to Philemon where slavery is an issue.  But with respect to one’s standing before Christ, it made no difference whether one was a slave or a slave owner; slaves were therefore to be treated no differently from masters in the church.  For this reason, when believers came together to enjoy the Lord’s supper, it was not proper for some to have good food and drink and others to have scarcely enough.  In Christ there was to be equality, and failure to observe that equality could lead to disasterous results (1 Cor 11:27-30).  But this did not mean that Paul urged all Christian masters to free their slaves or Christian slaves to seek their release.  Quite the contrary, since “the time was short,” everyone was to be content with the roles they were presently in.  They were not to try to change them (1 Cor 7:17-24).

How did this attitude affect Paul’s view of women?  For one thing, whether consistent with his own views of equality in Christ or not, Paul maintained that there was still to be a difference between men and women in this world.  To eradicate that difference, in Paul’s view, was unnatural and wrong.  This is most evident in Paul’s insistence that women in Corinth should continue to wear headcoverings when they prayed and prophesied in the congregation (1 Cor 11:3-16).  A number of the details of Paul’s arguments here are difficult to understand and have been the source of endless wrangling among biblical scholars.  For example, when he says that women are to have “authority” on their heads (the literal wording of v. 10), does he mean a “veil” or “long hair”?  Is he urging a particular article of clothing or a particular hair style?  Why would having this “authority” on the head affect the angels (v. 10)?  Are these good angels or bad?  And so on.  Despite such ambiguities, several points are quite clear from Paul’s argument.  For one thing, in these activities women could and did participate openly in the church alongside men.  But — and this is his overarching point — they were to do so as *women*, not as *men*.  For “nature” taught that men should have short hair and women long (at least, that’s what nature taught *Paul*!  As someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s – and who used to have hair – I must say nature never taught that to *me*), and women who made themselves look like men were acting in ways contrary to nature and therefore contrary to the will of God.

For Paul, therefore, even though men and women were equal in Christ, this equality had not yet become a full social reality.  We might suppose that it was not to become so until Christ returned to bring in the new age.  That is to say, men and women had not yet been granted full social equality any more than masters and slaves had been or any more than the Christians’ bodies had already experienced their glorious resurrection unto immortality.  While living in this age, men and women were to continue to accept their “natural” social roles, with women subordinate to men just as men were subordinate to Christ and Christ was subordinate to God (1 Cor 11:3).

So does Paul really push for gender equality or not?  Sane and reasonable people have argued both sides of the question.  My personal view is that if he didn’t allow his theological beliefs translate into social realities, he was nowhere near where we are or at least ought to be in the 21st century.


Paul, the Pastorals, and Women
Jesus’ Association with Women

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    FrancisDunn  July 29, 2013

    Its too bad that Prozac was not available in Paul’s time. Think of all the people who have suffered and died because of this morons teachings.

  2. Avatar
    toddfrederick  July 29, 2013

    “or ought to be.” I’m not so sure that we’ve come very far since Paul’s time, and, in many parts of the world today, the way women (and everyone else) are treated even worse than in Paul’s time. I think we could all give an endless list of horrific examples.

  3. Avatar
    rhsondag  July 30, 2013

    I thought I would relate a personal experience relating to Paul and these issues. A couple years ago I was dating an evangelical Christian, which prompted me to undertake a massive study of the bible and theology. I had been a devout (but uniformed) Catholic for most of my life. I happen to be reading Bart’s “Forged” at the time. I attended a large, somewhat evangelical church every 2 or 3 weeks with my friend (music was great!). The pastor announced a 3 week study of scripture and a discussion of why his church allowed women to preach in church when the Bible seemed to forbid it. I thought that this would be interesting so, to my friend’s delight, I promised to join her each of the next 3 weeks.

    In my naiveté, I was pretty sure that this exercise would lead inevitably to recognition that most scholars don’t think Paul wrote 1st Timothy; and that 1 Cor. 14:33-36 is often considered a later insertion. Bart laid out the supporting arguments in “Forged,” and I confirmed that the US Catholic Bishops seem to somewhat reluctantly agree with Bart (per the notes in the New American Bible, Revised Edition 2011). I felt a little less fundamentalism would be healthy for her (and for us).

    The Pastor started with the misogynist provisions of 1 Tim. 2: 12-15 and 1 Cor. 14: 33-36. He then proceeded to talk about all the important women in the Bible, with special emphasis on the Old Testament. I guess the point was that women could be spiritually important – although this seemed totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. He never mentioned the doubts scholars have about Paul’s authorship of Timothy. He never even mentioned that 1 Cor. 11:5 clearly allows women to pray and prophesy aloud in assembly. How does a guy spend 3 weeks on the topic and not acknowledge the obvious contradiction within 1st Corinthians??? His reason for not following 1 Cor. 14:33-36 in his church was that this was a “special rule” for the women of Corinth who were known to be “bad” and under the strong influence of the pagan gods (maybe because of a huge temple to a pagan deity there?). Did the women of Corinth get corrupted between Paul’s writing of chapter 11 and chapter 14 of his letter? (Okay, that was sarcastic.)

    Anyway, I highly recommend “Forged” – it’s a fascinating and easy read. One never knows when it might come in handy! I’m reading Bart’s New Testament textbook, but that is much, much slower going!

  4. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  July 30, 2013

    It seems like both Jesus (Luke 12:47-48) and Paul had some tolerance of slavery so I would like to see you blog on the slavery issue.

    I have now studied 12 of your lectures in The Teaching Company course entitled “The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History.” The lecture on the Resurrection is particularly helpful. In contrast to a lot of us, you think and write so clearly. Thanks for your many contributions to my education. You have no idea how seeing all of this discussed is like breathing a big breath of fresh air after having my thinking stifled in churches for so long…..

  5. Avatar
    donmax  July 30, 2013

    Bart & Fellow Bloggers,
    Please excuse the interruption, but before I start touring again I wanted to share my latest review of Professor. Burridge’s two gospel books. Look forward to reading anyone’s response, or better yet, your analysis of Robert Eisenman’s James the Brother of Jesus.

    Best to all,
    D.C.S.

    What About Richard Burridge’s Greco-Roman Hypothesis?
    by
    D. C. Smith
    Not so long ago I was surprised to hear Bart Ehrman describing the gospels as more “Greco-Roman,” than “Judeo-Christian.” For me it brought to mind toga-wearing Gentiles, instead of new-covenant Jews, telling the life story of Jesus. And when I learned that church officials at the highest ecclesiastical levels were also saying the same thing, I asked myself, “What in the world are they teaching in Sunday School these days!?” Had they gone mad? Or were they merely mouthing the latest academic consensus, for whatever reasons, in order to get the rest of us to rethink the way we look at the bible and its authors?

    Apparently the scholarly switch was spearheaded by Richard Burridge, a spokesman for the Church of England who chairs the Church’s Christian Evidence Society and who recently revised and summarized his views in a dissertation entitled, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography. This technical treatment was soon followed by a more readable book called, Four Gospels, One Christ.

    After surveying multiple decades of protracted discussion and debate from luminaries like Ernst Renan, C.W. Votaw, Karl Ludwig Schmidt, Friedrich Leo, Klaus Berger, Rudolf Bultmann, Charles Talbert, David Aune, and others, Professor Burridge postulates that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John produced what amounts to ancient Greco-Roman biographies. Therefore, those of us living in the modern era should treat them as such, since they clearly belong to a common class of literature widely embraced throughout the Empire, back when the texts themselves were originally written.

    Like most scholars, he shies away from using ordinary words, due to their anachronistic connotations. Instead, he prefers foreign substitutes like Bioi and Vitae, meaing “lives,” perhaps to avoid confusion, but something most readers will still find confusing.

    What we encounter here is the retrofitting of an outmoded theory of written communication, 1) because contemporary theories inevitably lead to misinterpretations of ancient texts, and 2) because the ancients did not possess our level of education or the tools of scholarship currently available.

    The catch is that this notion happens to be a relatively new hypothesis, and the Greek and Latin words for “biographies” and “genres” were rarely used until fairly recent times. Moreover, Greco-Roman Bioi were so varied and flexible they could include just about any life story, so long as it was relatively short and written in narrative prose. As specimens of a class of literature, they developed without any clearly defined rules of usage, except, it seems, by virtue of a mysterious understanding between the writers and their audiences. Burridge describes it as “a kind of ‘contract’ or agreement, often unspoken or unwritten, or even unconscious, between an author and a reader…” [Four Gospels, p. 5]

    The analysis covers an extended period of time stretching across the world from about 400 BCE to 400 CE. He lays out the traditional features of early genres and their progressive evolution as literary typologies, comparing “the famous four” to ten not-so-famous non-Christian Bioi. Yet the sampling seems disproportionately small when weighed against eight centuries of history and countless narratives; too small, in fact, to prove any workable theory of literature, particularly when “…thousands of writers wrote hundreds of thousands of books. We know the names of eleven hundred Hellenistic authors,” and “the unknown are an incalculable multitude” [from Will Durant’s The Life of Greece, p.600]

    Nevertheless, the argument is an admirable effort, even though it appears to be misguided and overblown. I wonder, did the reverend professor pick from a handful of surviving examples that served his purpose? Could he have overstated poetic likenesses, while down-playing the differences? And more to the point, what might a man of the cloth hope to gain by equating the Lord’s life to entirely different lives penned by highly respected men of learning like Plutarch, Polybius and Plato? If, as he admits, bible scholars have gone full circle from blindly embracing the gospels, to rejecting them out of hand as mythical fabrications, to once again reaffirming their exalted status as authentic biographic history, then that surely makes his motivation understandable. It also explains the pro-Christian biases and his evangelistic intentions, which he puts into words at the end of Chapter 10, Conclusions and Implications :

    “…[T]he biographical interest of the early church in the person of Jesus should act as
    a spur to contemporary evangelism and preaching, which also need to be based on the
    life and character of Jesus. It is our contention that this Bioc nature of the gospel genre
    should also restore the centrality of the person of Jesus” [What About the Gospels? p. 250].

    What, then, are my objections to the Greco-Roman hypothesis? For one thing, it is a “one-size-fits-all” concoction that doesn’t really fit. For another, the scrolls, the writers, the subjects, and the audiences are substantively different. The style, the settings and many of the so-called “features” are not the same, either. Nor can the gospels be properly understood or “decoded” just by looking at them as ancient artwork alone. If anything, they should be judged – fairly, of course – from where we sit today, chronologically, educationally, historically and scientifically speaking.

    When Professor Burridge says “the genre is very flexible and does not always fit predetermined rigid rules,” I say, “That’s the problem! It’s too flexible.” And when he suggests that “a mixture of literary units make up Bioi,” I see a loose mix of wide-ranging ingredients thrown together without a recipe. Whatever he tosses into the proverbial pot soon turns into something resembling Greco-Roman Goulash, edible foodstuff, perhaps, but nothing equal to a gourmet kosher meal.

    What matters to me is NOT whether these religious compositions shared a handful of peripheral features, which they may or may not have done, but how different from the others they really were, how the storylines unfolded as something truly exceptional, and to what extent the authors actually told the truth, not about another upper-crust protagonist, mind you, but about their long-awaited JEWISH MESSIAH.

    So what are some of the differences between the gospels and other ancient biographical writings?

    1. Unlike Greco-Roman bios, the gospels have no known authors and no titles.
    What’s more, their creators were not the educated elites of Greco-Roman society,
    nor were they eyewitness reporters, journalists or eminent scholars of antiquity.
    (To get a sense of what this means, just think about how it feels when you say,
    “The Greco-Roman Stories of Jesus According to No One” as compared to
    “The Gospels of Jesus Christ According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”)
    2. Unlike Greco-Roman bios, the subject of the gospels was neither a king, a great
    soldier, a famous playwright, a Roman knight, a Jewish/Egyptian prince, a military
    tribune, a famous senator, a republican politician, a pagan emperor, nor a second-rate
    forgotten philosopher. Jesus of Nazareth came from an entirely different social order.
    Like most of his followers, he was a Galilean peasant who shared a hard-scrabble
    existence and an apocalyptic view of the world where God Himself was expected to
    intervene in history to set things straight in the coming kingdom.
    3. Unlike Greco-Roman bios, gospel audiences were quite different, too. Their earliest
    readers were mostly listeners who had not yet been Hellenized to the same extent as
    their counterparts in upper-class society. They came from the lower rungs of the social
    ladder about as far removed from the literary and culinary habits of ancient Greece and
    Rome as natives Americans encountering European missionaries. After all, the gospel
    message or “motif” was directed to the poor in spirit and the poor in material possessions.
    No doubt, this would have included women, children, and the economically dispossessed.
    4. Unlike Greco-Roman bios, most of Professor Burridge’s examples do not fit the
    Length or size requirements of bona fide Greco-Roman biographies. By definition,
    he says they must be of “medium length,” neither too short, nor too long, somewhere
    between 10,000 and 20,000 words. However, his first five samplings run from 5,000
    (Evagorus), to 7,500 (Agesilaus), to 3,600 (Euripides), to 3,500 (Atticus), to 32,000
    (Moses) words. While the first four are much too short, the last is longer than some
    histories or even Plato’s longest Discourses. And when it comes to the other five,
    Apollonius of Tyana (82,000 words!) is unreasonably long, Agricola and Demonax
    (7,000 and 3,000 words) unduly short, leaving only Cato and one of the Caesars
    within the acceptable mid-length range. By contrast, Mark (at 11,000 words) matches
    the total of Atticus, Euripides and Demonax combined, whereas, Matthew, Luke and
    John taken together would not come close to equaling one single Apollonius.

    Even if we assume the gospels were a subclass of Greco-Roman-style biographies, it says nothing about their historicity, or the effect they had on audiences down through the ages. In fact, when the overall historical impact is considered, there is no comparison. Western civilization has never been quite the same since their inception!

    Because the Roman Church and the Roman State joined forces under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, and because New Testament “books” were subsequently canonized as sacred and infallible, their uniqueness as history was officially guaranteed. Pagan competitors, along with “apocryphal” Gnostic variations, were no match for eyewitness accounts coming straight from God through His earthly representatives. Simply put, these sorts of popularized testimonials withstood the test of time, because everyone was either indoctrinated from birth, or forced to acknowledge that Jesus Christ came into the world to save mankind.

    One can only imagine what Burridge and his co-religionists would have to say about that, or about what appears to be “the fifth gospel,” artfully retold as The Acts of the Apostles, since it proved to be such a critical linchpin for telling “the rest of the story.” No matter that we already had multiple attestations, four of them if we only stick to the sanctified ones. This fact, and the discovery of so many of their apocryphal cousins, not to mention countless the other “lost gospels,” adds to the mystique of the gospels as being sui generis.

    This kind of ancient story mongering was not only told in writing, it germinated orally and grew almost everywhere, on paintings, murals and tapestries, in cathedrals, plays, songs and other means of public consumption, sprouting forth as THE TRUTH of global history.

    Speaking of history, consider what Polybius, “the historian’s historian,” had to say.

    There is a proverb which tells us that a single drop, taken from even the largest vessel,
    is enough to reveal to us the nature of the whole contents, and the same principle may
    be applied to the subject we are now discussing. Accordingly, when we find one or two
    false statements in a book and they prove to have been deliberately made, we know that
    we can no longer treat anything that is said by such an author as believable or trustworthy.
    [10.25]

    In other words, whoever wrote (or writes) what Polybius called “universal history,” or any of its more narrowly-focused biographical units, telling the truth came first and was always paramount. Falsehoods and fabrications, no matter the spin, were out of bounds, even during the days when everyone thought of dates as “Before Christ” or “After Death.”

    Gospel writers were messianic storytellers in the Jewish biblical tradition. While the tales they offered may have shared some common ingredients with stories told in other cultures and traditions (after all, how could the not!?), they were nonetheless “a different kettle of fish.” Call them a “subgenre” if you will, but that is like calling a tidal wave a subclass of water, or the Grand Canyon just another hole in the ground. In particular, as modes of written communication, they were created for distinctly different purposes, to be read aloud in synagogues and churches, or at other religious gatherings, rather than for literary enjoyment after dinner, or at public performances in crowded amphitheaters. More importantly, they were meant to tell THE CHRIST STORY of resurrection and redemption.

    The focus, therefore, was on two subjects, not one. Excepting Philo’s Moses, they were not about a noble Greek or an esteemed Roman. If they fit a preexisting literary mold at all, it would have been only on the margins, by way of accident, not intention.

    In general terms, bi-og-ra-phy is defined as “a written account of a person’s life.” That said, the writing should never be judged exclusively from one vantage point, as some might have us believe, or by one overly-contrived literary classification, as Burridge seems to fancy. Any judicious, fair-minded and comprehensive assessment requires reasonable standards for determining factual probabilities about the life story *as told*, and not limited to the parochial values and unconscious purposes of ancient writers, or to the fanciful imaginings of primitive populations.

    As everyone knows, not all biographers can be trusted, in whatever era they happen to live, and few readers are well-educated or unbiased enough to look into a reactionary rear-view mirror just to catch a glimpse of what may or may not appear to be “Greco-Roman,” categorically speaking. In fact, the visible features of the writings are more like projections on a screen than perceptions of something actually there, more akin to wishful thinking than hard core reality. For all written history comes to us from authorial points of view, and all the writing about history, and about historical characters, is spun from the minds of the writers and the cultural context in which they live.

    What I find most objectionable is the notion that to *properly* understand our Christian gospels we must first filter them through the mind-set of ancient readers and writers rather than by means of modern standards and values. The theory that they belong to a literary genre, only recently codified, especially in a world where 97% of the population was totally illiterate and where literacy may have reached 15% under the best of conditions during the golden age of Athens, where and when biographic prose began, is both arguable and inconclusive.

    Take, for example, the absence of identifiable Christian authors, or more to the point, the deceptive insertion of pseudonymous ones, versus celebrated pagan historians, dramatists, poets and philosophers. Surely that alone is enough to give us pause about their generic sameness. Moreover, the broad scope of the story is PRIMEVAL THEOLOGY, not history, starting from the Book of Genesis, retold in the Gospel of John, wherein we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”(Gen. 1:1), then “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”(Jn. 1:1). Both verses are theological contrivances, not historical beginnings, or even biographical introductions.

    If we follow Burridge’s lead and presume that in order to decipher or “decode” what the author(s) originally intended, or “encoded,” we must first put on, or at least pretend to put on, the same generic lenses ancient peoples once wore in bygone days, our field of vision will surely narrow, perhaps to the point of outright distortion. It would be like asking men of science to look at natural phenomena in a self-imposed paradigm of yesteryear, or telling physicians to become witch doctors who see only demons instead of the real causes of disease.

    Saying that the gospels are special, or different, or primarily ancient theology, does not mean they are unapproachable or something other than what they are, or beyond our contemporary understanding. Nor does it mean they actually represent “good news,” as the name implies. Given the steady stream of anti-Jewish subplots running throughout the gospel stories, it suggests EXTRAORDINARY TALES that have no equal, then or now, something separate and distinct from less inspired and much less influential non-biblical forms of narration, and SLANDEROUS FABRICATIONS about an entire race of people who have suffered the murderous consequences of what was so falsely written two-thousand years ago.

    Yes, the New Testament is an extension of the Old Testament, but it is also a retelling of the cosmic story, not in any tightly wrapped pagan formula, but in the piecemeal, patchwork biblical way unique unto itself. The focus in not upon an ordinary man, nor even a real man, but a mythic person brought down to earth within a distinctly Jewish, rather than a Greco-Roman context.

    Why, then, are so many bible scholars jumping on the genre bandwagon? Simply because they are mostly Christian intellectuals who want to give their sacred writings the legitimacy of authentic history, which they don’t deserve, as though the religious and theological storytelling is true, after all.

    But it isn’t true, and it never will be!

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 30, 2013

      Thanks for this. I will not give a point-by-point evaluation of what you’ve said. But I will say that I myself am not a Christian intellectual and I do not think that Burridge’s religious affiliations have any bearing on his historical scholarship. Moreover, I personally find his book thoroughly convincing (although I do acknowledge precisely some of the caveats that you provide — about length, most significantly) and consider it to be the best book written on the genre of the Gospels, for anyone who is interested in pursuing the matter. BTW, calling these books “theology” does not give us any indication of their *genre*, and that is what his book is all about.

      • Avatar
        donmax  July 30, 2013

        Thanks for the feedback, even as sparse and Spartan as it seems to be. You find Burridge’s arguments “thoroughly convincing,” while I find them overly inflated and unpersuasive. So be it. Whatever the truth is, I doubt it will have much impact on most armchair Christians. I know you don’t think of yourself as one of them, certainly not a “churchman” like your Reverend friend, but I see you in that tradition and mindset, though not a true believer anymore. After all, your entire world seems to revolve around things biblical, including your livelihood.

        Last of all, I would remind you that “subject and content are important generic features not to be underestimated” [WATG, p. 109]. The gospels are not just theology, but more theo than bio. 

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  July 31, 2013

          The problem is that “theology” is not a genre.

          • Avatar
            donmax  August 1, 2013

            As I see it, the problem is in how we define the terms. They are small pieces of a much bigger pie, with overlapping boundaries. My dictionary says that literature includes any type of written communication worthy of remembering, on any subject. Therefore, theological writings and biographical writings are distinct literary types, whatever we call them. But to me it is misleading to suggest the canonized gospels are biographies. They should be thought of as “theographies.”

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  August 1, 2013

            No, I’m afraid literary genre deals with formal (literary) characteristics, not with theological biases. (Most Roman biographies were highly slanted as well, often for religious reasons).

          • Avatar
            donmax  August 2, 2013

            Literary genres are determined by their definitions. Why else would RB need 300+ pages to link Greco-Roman bios to the New Testament gospels? It’s obviously NOT an obvious connection, otherwise it would not have taken literary critics two thousand years to redefine the word. If ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish authors were creating the same type of literature, why did no one notice it ‘til now??? (BTW, Mark’s “propaganda biography” works for me. In fact, there’s a genre called “fictive” or “fictional” biography.)

    • Avatar
      toejam  July 31, 2013

      When it comes to the “genre” of the gospels, I agree most with Mark Goodacre who describes them as “propoganda biography”. They were probably created with the same intent and historical credibility as a modern day Scientology-funded biography of their, now decades-long-dead, founder, L.Ron Hubbard. Look at the way the latest incarnation of the official Scientology website portrays Hubbard – the basic elements of his life are there, but they’ve been exaggerated and fabricated far beyond any normal levels of bias. I suspect a similar thing is going on with the gospels. The basic elements of Jesus’ life are probably there, that is, that he was some kind of eccentric Jewish wandering-faith-healer-preacher-type who gained a small but significant-enough following to warrant his arrest and crucifixion by the ruling establishment.

      • Avatar
        donmax  August 1, 2013

        Surprised to hear the label came from Mark Goodacre, but sounds like reasonable enough speculation to me. Thanks for the input.

  6. Brad Billips
    Brad Billips  July 30, 2013

    I probably speak for everyone who are members of this blog, we need to see a picture of you with long hair!! Moreover, in seriousness, some good pictures of you with some other scholars would be a great additive. Bruce Metzger or maybe Dale B. Martin with long flowing hair. Hard to picture Dr. Martin with hair. Ha!!

  7. Avatar
    Wilusa  July 30, 2013

    He actually said “Christ was subordinate to God”? Interesting! I can understand why, when I was young, Catholics certainly weren’t discouraged from reading the Bible, but they were told only the Church could properly interpret it.

  8. Avatar
    dennis  July 30, 2013

    For what it is worth ( which , aside from a possible chuckle , may not be much ) here is how one of my teachers in Catholic high school handled a pair of those ” difficult ” passages more years ago than I like to ponder . He started by saying the passages almost certainly were meant to address very specific ” issues ” concerning very specific congregations and were never intended for general application . Fair enough and certainly possible . He then went on to cite two examples . First re ” let the women be silent in church ” might well have stemmed from a ” more gifted than thou ” shouting match duel in ” tongues ” between two of the overly charismatic ladies . Second , the rule for women’s hair to be covered might well have been prompted by the near total absence of sexual morality as we understand it in the ancient world . A fair share of the sisters might well have been earning their living as prostitutes and appearing at their very best at the weekly communal meal might lead to an expansion of their customer base during the week . Both examples , outlandish as they sound at first hearing , made sense to me then and still do .

  9. Avatar
    RParvus  July 30, 2013

    In Philippians 4: 2-3 Paul, writing from prison, asks his “gnesie syzege” (true yokemate) to intervene and help two women, Evodia and Synteche, to resolve their differences. The Greek word translated ‘yokemate’ was frequently used for a spouse and the Greek-speaking Clement of Alexandria clearly understood it as a reference to Paul’s wife (in Strom. 3, 52-53). Later Eusebius (also Greek speaking) quoted Clement’s opinion with apparent approval (in Church History 3, 30).

    But in the current text of Philippians “syzege” is modified by the adjective “gnesie” (“true”) which is in the masculine gender. That would seem to definitely rule out the “yokefellow” being a woman. It seems incredible that both Clement and Eusebius could have overlooked the gender of the adjective. Do you know of any early manuscripts that have the feminine form of the adjective? Or that that are missing the adjective altogether?

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