Saturday, May 30, 2009

Paper on women preaching

My plan is to direct you to relevant papers and books as I find them.
This paper was shown to me today.
I met the author himself today at my church weekend away. We asked his thoughts about these issues, and we talked in as much detail as time would allow about his interpretation of the 1 Tim 2 passage. I was impressed with his knowledge, scholarship and submission to the Word.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

To lead? Or to love?

I hear lots of people say that the men are to "lead". I can't find that anywhere to be biblically mandated.
I can see many places where wifely "submission" is contrasted with husbandly "love" but never leadership.
Can someone point it out to me?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A bit about me

I thought that before I continue posting, I'd let you know where I'm coming from on this issue.
I went to a Uniting Church during my primary school years, a Baptist Church during High School. At that time I made a conscious decision to follow Jesus at an SUFM while my family was on holidays. When I went to uni in Sydney I started going to an Anglican Church and I have stayed at Anglican Churches ever since.
I see that there is debate on these issues going on in Anglican Churches and other denominations in Sydney as well. Two basic sides of the debate seem to have formed - but I (I think with quite a few people) am uncomfortable in different ways with both of these sides.
What I love about the complementarian side is that they are trying to remain true to the text (see for example Grudem and Piper's Blue book). The Bible remains the source of authority and they attempt to submit every area of their life and theology to it. I certainly applaud that. What I fear is that this side may have overread some portions of text, to find something in there which the author may not have intended. I'm not clear on what I mean about that, hence my own investigations into the text, which I hope to continue posting. They also may downplay the role of culture in interpreting the text on this issue.
What I love about the egalitarian (and often liberal) side is that they want to value both sexes equally, in their theology and practise - and they believe that God values them equally too. They also understand the importace of understanding biblical and present day culture in their interpretation. However, many books which I have read from this perspective (for example this book) seem not to have as high a standard of scholarship as those on the complementarian side.
What I don't appreciate about this debate is that often people are intrenched in their own side, and the debate becomes very partisan (see the reviews for what I call "the orange book" edited by Pierce, Groothuis and Fee which tries to pursue an evangelical middle ground - the reviews are quite polarised). I won't point you to some blog posts which I recently stumbled upon which have been far less gracious in their tone when discussing women being invited to a speaking event.
So I mainly want to deal with the bible, and find out as much as I can about the relevant texts, but if you have any recommendations of articles or books to read, I'd be happy for you to comment on that as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More about silence

Following on from my previous post - I noticed a few things about this word.
For example in Acts 22:2 the crowd became "even more quiet" . Here the word "silent" in English is not appropriate translation of this word - because silence in English doesn't have degrees. It's hard to be silent, and then be even more silent. You're either silent or not. So this word ηεσυχια has degrees, which are not so appropriate in English.
In the previous post, I gave the NRSV examples. The ESV more consistently uses the word "quietly" for this word, but even the ESV was not able to coherently translate the Luke 23:56 example with "quiet". The ESV also has "On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." This word has a range of meaning which doesn't easily fit with any English word. It seems to imply orderly behaviour which is submissive to God. I don't know of any English word which includes all these meanings - do you?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quiet? Silence? Or something else...

When it comes to the question of whether a woman should be allowed to preach to men in a church context the key verses have to be 1 Tim 2: 11-15.   
I've been thinking a bit about the specific Greek words in these verses and here is what I've found out so far:
I've looked at the word which is often translated "quietly" or "in silence": ησυχια  (apologies, I don't yet know how to add the breathing marks etc.)  and it doesn't seem to mean what lots of English translations translate it as.

I've searched for this word as a noun, adjective and verb and here are the places it's found in the New Testament. Bible text is from the NRSV.




Acts 22:2

"When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet."

1 Thess 4:11

"to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands,"

2 Thess 3:12

"Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living."

1 Tim 2: 11, 12

"Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent."



1 Tim 2:2

Pray "for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity."

1 Peter 3:4

Do not adorn yourselves by braiding hair … "rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight."



Luke 14:3-4

""Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath, or not?"  But they were silent."

Luke 23:56

"On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment."

Acts 11:18 

"When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.""

Acts 21:14

"Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, "The Lord's will be done."." (Note: "except to say" is literally ειποντες).

1 Thess 4:11

We urge you… " to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you,"

I think this gives a sense of how the words in 1 Tim 2:11 and 12 should be understood. I don't think it's talking about "not talking" at all. See, for example,  the verbs in Acts where they were silenced, but were still able to speak praising God!
It seems to me that here it is argumentative speech -  that speech which is not submitted to God - which is silenced. But speech praising God is not inconsistent with the use of ησυχαζω. But rather it's about a state of not arguing, and about being orderly, and restful.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why this blog?

Ive been thinking about the place of women's ministry in the evangelical church over the past few years. I know I often learn best in a group, so I thought a blog might be a good place to have a discussion.
Two sides of this issue have been defined, but I'm not sure that either is completely right.  I am neither a staunch complementarian nor egalitarian. I want to look at the biblical text and trying to work out what I think on this issue. I also want to think about how we can apply what the bible says in our present church context.