The Double-Edged Sword of Being a Female Bible Scholar
This month Zondervan launches its brand-new The Story of God Bible Commentary, directed by Scot McKnight and Tremper Longman. One of the first volumes in the series is by Lynn Cohick, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.
Cohick has previously published several books and articles, including Ephesians in the New Covenant Commentary series, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians, and The New Testament in Antiquity. I spoke with her about her latest project, as well as her experience as a woman in the field of biblical studies.
Before we talk specifically about your writing on the book of Philippians, what can you tell us about this new The Story of God Bible Commentary?
I would say that this commentary, even its name—The Story of God Bible Commentary—really stresses how the individual reader is part of God's story. I know there's a phrase, "Let God into your life," or "What is God doing in your life?" and while I understand what they're saying in that, sometimes I want to push back and say, "What do you mean your life?" This series is trying to stress how the biblical text is God's invitation to us to participate in his story as we are servants of Christ.
Is the commentary designed in a way that a small group Bible study could read together?
Yes I think so, because it doesn't presuppose that you have a background in Scripture. I think it really can take you step by step through Scripture. So someone who's not very familiar with the Bible could benefit, but also someone who has a lot of experience with the Biblical text will find this to be a very practical commentary. I would hope that the very format invites people to share their own stories, and invites them to begin thinking about their own Christian lives, relative to the story of God.
Are there any contemporary cultural issues for which Philippians lends a fresh, relevant perspective?
Paul doesn't hold grudges. I am very impressed in chapter 1, when Paul says there are people out there with envious attitudes, knowing that he's in chains and making a jab at him. The text doesn't tell us why they're envious or how they're exhibiting it, but Paul is very clear. He says, "I don't care, as long as Christ is preached." Now, I think God cares about someone's envious spirit and will certainly deal with them, but Paul doesn't feel like he needs to.
In the blog world today, and other venues where people can be anonymous, I find people can be so cutting of others, and also impute motives. They have no idea why a person did what they did, but they're very quick to impute negative motives. Paul is a wonderful testimony to ignore people who do that, to not react in spite. But I also think it should warn us to be a little more careful, so that we don't end up being like those who were enemies of Paul.
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