Paul’S View Of Women

Women, Men, and the Bible, by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Abingdon, 1977, 144 pp., $3.95 pb), and Chauvinist or Feminist? Paul’s View of Women, by Richard and Joyce Boldrey (Baker, 1976, 71 pp., $2.95 pb), are reviewed by Philip Siddons, pastor, Wrights Corner United Presbyterian Church, Lockport, New York.

Those people who consider the Bible authoritative and without error and who work toward the equality of women in church and society (biblical feminists) agree that the greatest exegetical tasks lie with the Pauline material.

Christian feminist writings have shown that despite the heavily male-dominated culture, there were some advancements for women in Old Testament times. The fact that Jesus was a feminist has been demonstrated by contrasting his actions with the laws and customs of his first-century culture. But then there is Paul.

Up to this point on the issue of “women from the biblical perspective,” there have been four ways to deal with difficult Pauline passages. The first method has been to consider the passages in question as non-Pauline. This is done by attributing the problem verses to scribal addition. Then a passage presents little problem because it is not part of the Scriptural canon. The problem with this method is that it easily leads to judging verses to be non-canonical if a person does not like it.

A second method has been to limit the relevancy of Paul’s words to the century in which he lived. Some people believe that what Paul expressed on the issue of women only pertained to the first century. But the criteria to distinguish what is for all times from what is for the first-century reader only is often vague.

Great care must be taken in interpreting some ...

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