The Bible’S Teaching On Women

In Search of God’s Ideal Woman: A Personal Examination of the New Testament, by Dorothy Pape (InterVarsity, 1976, 370 pp., $4.95 pb), Up From Eden, by Kathryn Lindskoog (David C. Cook, 1976, 139 pp., $2.95 pb), A Woman’s Worth and Work: A Christian Perspective, by Karen Helder DeVos (Baker, 1976, 101 pp., $2.95 pb), and The Magna Charta of Woman, by Jessie Penn-Lewis (Bethany Fellowship, 1975, 103 pp., $1.50 pb), are reviewed by Ronald D. Worden, associate professor of Bible, and Barbara L. Worden, associate professor of communications, Friends Bible College, Haviland, Kansas.

These authors seek to justify equality for women in all areas including work and marriage with an appeal, in part or in full, to an appropriate understanding of biblical teaching about the role of women, especially a reinterpretation of disputed Pauline texts. Each rightly insists, in one way or another, that such texts should be understood according to their meaning in context and cultural setting. For example, Pape deplores the attitude of “some people” who “regard 1 Tim., 2 Cor. and so on merely as convenient tags for finding verses, giving no thought for the persons to whom the letters were addressed. They regard every instruction of Paul as binding on the church today, using the same logic as well-meaning persons who affirm these lines: ‘Every promise in the Book is mine; Every chapter, every verse, every line.’ But surely some thought must be given to context.”

We, the reviewers, are in hearty sympathy with these aims, and we concur in deploring the social prejudice and misery that these authors hope to rectify. On balance, however, we must conclude that their success in achieving these aims varies roughly in proportion ...

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