In the beginning was the text, and then came the study notes. The two samples of women's study Bibles below illustrate the complicated factors involved not only in translation decisions but also in interpreting Scripture. We have chosen some of the women listed in Romans 16 as the basis for our comparison because of the text's seemingly uncontroversial nature and because it deals directly with the stated subject matter of these two Bibles. The excerpts are taken from The Women's Study Bible (NKJV), Dorothy Patterson, general editor (Thomas Nelson), which is written from an evangelical traditionalist perspective, and from the Study Bible for Women (NRSV), Catherine Clark Kroeger, Mary Evans, and Elaine Storkey, eds. (Baker Books), which reflects an evangelical egalitarian perspective.

Was Phoebe a Deacon? (Romans 16:1-2)

The Women's Study Bible (NKJV):

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.

Phoebe was a Gentile Christian from the port city of Cenchrea. Her name, derived from Greek mythology, means "pure" or "radiant as the moon." Paul described Phoebe as a "servant" (Gk. diakonon ) and "helper" (Gk. prostatis ). She may have been a patron of some sort . …

Paul spoke highly of Phoebe. He introduced her to the Roman Christians as "sister," "servant," "saint," and "helper." Though the word here translated "servant" is also transliterated "deacon," note both generic and technical usages ...

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