Christians for Biblical Equality

The topic tonight is whether women should be permitted to teach men and the immediate corollary of this, whether they can be ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament. Both issues are related to the issue of women exercising leadership in the church. I will deal only tangentially with gender relationships within the family viz: submission of women to men. The key areas to be covered are the individual Scriptural texts, the example of Jesus and Paul and theological reflections. At the end of this paper it will be evident that the topic has raised deeper issues of whether women are fully human and whether our particular personal theological home is willing and capable of incorporating an alternative theological view even if it is derived from Scripture.
The aim tonight is not to give a highly detailed exposition of individual texts. There is simply not enough time. What I want to do is give a clear, concise and coherent overview of the main Biblical texts which are usually disputed.

Part A: Biblical texts
Genesis 1:27-28
When we read Genesis 1 we are inclined to ask the question of how was the creation made and when did it all start? This line of questioning is a result of living in the shadow of the scientific paradigm of modernism. However, the ancient people would be inclined to ask the question, Which god made the world/creation? For the Hebrews, Genesis 1 -2 answers this question and another one: Is the God who redeemed us from slavery in Egypt the same God who created the heavens and the earth? The answer is of course yes. This is why both LORD (Heb: YHWH) and God (Heb: Elohim) appear side by side in the text in ch 2, even though name and its meaning LORD is not revealed to Moses until Ex 3. Genesis 1 highlights in particular that the LORD is no mere tribal deity or god which belongs to the ancient city states like Thebes, Sumer or Ur. He is the universal God. Furthermore, when the Hebrews worshipped, it was quite evident they did not use images of their God. Throughout the period of the tabernacle and even when the temple was constructed, no images were made (although the worship became tainted with Baal and Asheroth worship after the division of the kingdom). The reason is that both men and women bear the image of God. God himself, is beyond all images and should not be limited by them (hence the second and third commandments of the Decalogue). The people will face the temptation of worshipping the image rather than the God it represents. Within Gen 1, the sun and the moon, the principle deities of the Ancient Near East, are stripped of their status and desacralised. They are created by God. The stars are mentioned as an afterthought. It was believed that they could control human destiny and the political life and future of a kingdom, but God shows that he is true controller of human destiny and not the idolatrous deities by his creation of the stars.
Therefore, when we arrive at Gen 1:27-28, both men and women are made in God's image and both ("let them rule" vs 26), are given the mandate to rule over the creation. (Reinforced in vs 28 with the area of dominion expanded). To set Genesis 1 again in its ANE context, the kings of the city states were regarded as the incarnation of the principle deities. The pharaoh of Egypt was the incarnation of Horus, the son of Osiris (with his wife Isis). Thus, to rule and to bear the image of God are not the prerogative of a few, select individuals which gain this right by tradition or by inheritance, but as an expression of who they are as humanity.
One way of understanding the implications of what 'image' and its synonym 'likeness' means, is to see it as our innate desire to rule. To be an image bearer of God is to not only express this image in creative, rational and relational ways, but also in our desire and ability to rule over the Creation as the designated governor-general of the Creator. It is part of our ontological nature, not a function bestowed by a superior court, person or organisation. Genesis 1:27 also implicitly democratises the rule and does not limit its franchise to those with spurious claims made on the basis of gender, age, experience, inherited privilege or past tradition. Everyone who is an image bearer is given the mandate to rule, regardless of their gender (ie: both men and women).
Two questions emerge as a result. Does the intrusion of sin in Genesis 3 (the Fall) remove the right for women to rule or alter the relationship that it is not recovered and can the prerogative to rule by a woman be limited in the sphere of the Church? (Which would imply that a woman could not be ordained.)
Genesis 2:18, 20 with comparison with other uses of 'helper'
The discussion of Gen 2:18, 20 ("I will make a helper suitable for him'), has been traditionally used to make the point that the woman is weaker and inferior to the man on the basis of this passage. Furthermore, it is often suggested that the woman is deficient in some way and dependent on the man. This text in particular has been used to establish that women should be submissive to men and that a hierarchical relationship is intrinsic to the created order. Some prefer a halfway house of arguing that the role/relationship is complementary and that the equality of Gen 1 is modified in Gen 2 to be one of a functional distinction with submission.
However, it is the man who is deficient – of a counter- part and who is socially isolated. The announcement that the man is 'alone' and that the LORD God 'will make a helper fit for him', is then broken by the parenthesis of the animals being made and brought to the man to name. This only serves to heighten the suspense (vs 20b) that the man is alone and without the assistance of a helper. The woman is created as the climax of the narrative and is his counterpart (made from his rib – side and 'flesh of my flesh').
The Hebrew word for helper is 'ezer'. A cursory glance of the use of this word in the remainder of the OT will highlight that the woman is far from being inferior – or weaker. YHWH is called the 'ezer' of Israel (Ex 18:4, Deut 33:7,26,29; Ps 20:2, 33:20; 70:5; 89:19; 115:9,10, 11; 121:1-2; 124:8; 146:5; Hos 13:9). The other three uses of this word outside Gen 2 denote military ties or alliances (Isa 30:5, Ezek 12:14, Dan 11:34).1 This suggests that the 'ezer is the stronger and more able who comes to rescue and protect the vulnerable! The woman was not created to serve the man, but to serve with him. "God's original intention for women and men is that in work and in marriage they share tasks and share authority."2
Some have argued that because the man was created first, this implies rights and the establishment of a creation ordinance of hierarchy. This is an argument of based on primogeniture, a medieval social custom. Such an argument is lacking in basis when one considers the number of times the second born (Isaac, Jacob), or even eighth born (as in David), is chosen and blessed by God. Furthermore, there is a word play in 2:23: 'she shall be called woman' – which in Heb is 'ishah' because she was taken out of man (Heb 'ish') highlights the identity and equality of this original couple.

Genesis 3 –The consequences of the fall
The meaning of Gen 3:16 is frequently glossed over. "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you". The Heb verb 'to rule over' is not an imperative - that the man must rule over the woman, but future indicative, that he will because of the distortion sin has brought to their relationship. The interpretation of the Heb word for 'desire' is chequered. For traditionalists, it is the desire to get out from the authority of the man/husband. Viewed this way his role is to restrain the woman's desire to control and manipulate him. Gen 4:7 (Cain must master the desire by sin to control him), is often cited as the verse which highlights the basis of this interpretation. 3 'To love and to cherish', becomes 'To desire and to dominate'.4 However, commentators are by no means united on the meaning of 'desire'. For example, Wenham is wary of the above interpretation. Desire could simply mean the deeply held purpose to seek companionship and communion in sexual union (the natural expression of our bearing the image of God although it is marred by sin), to find fulfilment and respite from loneliness in spite of the imbalance in the power dynamics of the relationship.
There are no less than six different views of this passage. 5 That so many have been identified should suggest that the ability to hold any one with certainty and at the exclusion of others is unwise. Broadly speaking they can be summarised into the three simple positions shown on table below.

Before the Fall The effect of the Fall The effect of the redemption of Christ
Hierarchical (intrinsic to relationships between genders) Domination intensified, onerous Re-instatement of hierarchical position without onerous overtones.
Egalitarian Domination intrudes, onerous Salvation only, hierarchical re'ship remains until the parousia with the restoration of the Creation.
Egalitarian Domination intrudes, onerous Restoration of original Creation ordinance

    Adam names his wife after the Fall. This gesture by which Adam is an expression of the distorted human condition of their relationship and one of control (3:20). 'But none of that is urged by the narrator as normative.'6
    Concluding comment: With egalitarians (and against hierarchicalists) it can be affirmed that Gen 1-2 presents God's divine ideal for men and women at creation to be one of equality in both nature and function, with no superiority or leadership of the male and no inferiority or submission of the female.7
    1 Cor 11:2-16 Hierarchy based on creation?
    The first thing to consider is context: Ch's 11 – 14 deal with the theme of good order in the church's public worship. In ch 11:2-16, Paul is responding to the behaviour of men and women in worship and the abusive behaviour by some groups in the Lord's Supper/love feast (11:17-34). The next context is the ethnic background of the congregation. It is a mixture of Jewish and Greek people who had entirely different views on decorum and head covering when praying. For Jews, the man had his head covered when praying; for Greeks, a man's head was not covered, but a women's.
    Following CK Barratt's commentary8: Vs 2 should be contrasted with vss 4, 7 & 10. The Greek word head () is evidently used in a way whose meaning is transferred from other contemporary Gk usage. In the OT, the Hebrew word head (rosh) may refer to the ruler of a community (Jud 10:18). This use, although adopted by Greek speaking Judaism, was not the common meaning of the Greek word. In Greek usage, the word, when used in a metaphorical sense, may apply to the
    "outstanding and determining part of a whole, but also to origin (eg: in the plural, to the source of a river, as in Herodotus iv.91). In this sense it is used theologically, as in Orphic fragment (21a): Zeus is the head, Zeus the middle, and from Zeus all things are completed . . . That this is the sense of the word here is strongly suggested by verse 8 f. Paul does not say that man is the lord () of the woman; he says that he is the origin of her being. In this he is directly dependent on Gen. ii. 18-23, where it is stated (a) that woman was created in order to provide a helper suited to him, and (b) that she was created by the removal of a rib from Adam's body. It is true that Paul might have reached a different conclusion if he had started from Gen. i. 27, where from the beginning creation seems to have been of male and female alike . . . Paul is indeed partly influenced by this verse when in verse 7, after writing that man is the image and glory of God, he says that woman is the glory of man – not his image, for she too shares the image of God, and is not (as some commentators have thought) more remote from God than is man.
    So far we have concentrated on one clause. Man is the head of woman (sic) in the sense that he is the origin, and thus the explanation of her being. That God is the head of Christ (sic) can be understood in a similar way. The Father is fons divinitatis; the Son is what he is in relation to the Father. There can be no doubt that Paul taught a form (we may call it an innocent form) of subordinationism; see further iii 23; xv 28, with the notes. The Son would no longer be the kind of Son we know him to be if he ceased to be obedient to and dependent on the Father.
    It is harder to explain the clause that states that Christ is the head of every man – of every man, not simply of the Christian; for it is scarcely legitimate (with Robertson-Plummer) to take every to mean simply 'whether married or unmarried'. The reference is probably to Christ as the agent of creation (cf. viii. 6: through him); possibly however the thought goes further: as the existence of Christ is given in the existence of God, and as the existence of woman is given in the existence of man, so the existence of man is given in the existence of Christ, who is the ground of humanity (cf. Col. i. 16, In him all things were created). Thus a chain of originating and subordinating relationships is set up: God, Christ, man, woman. From this proposition practical consequences are deduced.9
    Paul introduces a ruling to bring order to the differing cultural expectations within the congregation in vss 5-16. In attending and participating in public worship, men are not to be veiled; women are. The woman's participation in worship is described as praying, prophesying (11:5, 13) and presumably speaking in tongues (14:6, 20 if the adelphoi is rendered into 'brothers and sisters' as the NRSV does); she is to be veiled.
    'Man disgraces his head by wearing a veil, woman disgraces herself by not wearing one. What is meant here by her head? [vs 5] Some think that her husband is intended (he is disgraced by her shameless behaviour), but the subsequent reference to shaving suggests that her physical head is meant.'10
    Does Paul establish a hierarchy in 11:7-10 based on the Creation account? Man 'is the image of glory of God but woman is the glory of man'. According to Gen 1:26 man (both male and female being included in this term), was created in the image of God; that in the contrast with the rest of creation, resembling him. When Paul says that the 'woman is the glory of man' he no longer follows Gen 1:26, but Gen 2:18-23 as the next two verses show. When Paul writes: 'Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man'. (vs 8) is following the Genesis narrative since Adam/man was in existence before any woman came into being. The words: 'but woman from man' is echoing the Genesis narrative when the woman was made from a rib drawn from Adam's side. In 1 Cor 11:9 the Gk text commences with 'for' not 'neither' as the NRSV has it. A better translation would be 'For man was not created for the sake of the woman, but woman for the sake of man', Paul is drawing our attention to the fact that Adam was created before God had even thought of making woman and that the purpose of his creation was to work in the garden. Woman was created to be a helper to Adam – of which we have already established, was not as a weaker partner. In this way Adam is the glory of God and she is the glory of man, deriving her role in relation to assisting Adam in his tasks. 'This is her role in creation; it is not her role in Christ, in whom such distinctions are removed, but Christians remain created beings as we see in Gal 3:28. Paul is not trying to act as if the differences between the sexes had ceased to exist – his discussion (in chapter vii) of marriage problems within the church is sufficient to show this.'11
    In recent years, some Evangelicals have argued that Paul bases his hierarchical view on a hierarchical view that would operate within the trinity itself. This is called subordinationism. Subordinationism is to be distinguished from the widely held view of "relational subordination" by some of Evangelicals. In relational subordination, both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are said to be subordinate to God the Father because they never command the Father, but rather do the will of the Father. However, this does not mean that God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are in any way inferior to the Father by nature or being. On the contrary, both the Son and the Spirit are held to be co-equal and co-eternal with the Father because they are of the same being or substance as the Father.
    Traditionally, subordinationists have asserted that the Son is eternally and therefore ontologically subordinate to the Father. Subordinationism has regained currency in evangelical circles by the suggestion of George W. Knight III, in his landmark 1977 book, "The New Testament Teaching on Role Relationship with Men and women." In this book, Knight suggests that the Son is functionally but not ontologically subordinate to the Father. He also maintains that eternal subordination does not necessarily imply ontological subordination. The assertion of eternal subordination in function, combined with the denial of ontological subordination, is Knight's unique contribution to the teaching of subordination. Knight's publication has led to an unprecedented popularity of this new, modified subordinationist Christology in conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist circles.12 It should be noted however, that the Melbourne Anglican, and former vicar (retired) of St Michael's Carlton North, Kevin Giles, has repudiated this view substantially in his book, "The Trinity & Subordinationism".13
    I am uncomfortable with Evangelicals appealing to a subordination of the Son and the Spirit to the Father whether relationally or in a strict hierarchical sense because it has been a doctrine with a checked and dubious history throughout the third and fourth centuries which is reflected in the formulation in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, both of which are found in the Anglican Prayer Book (A Prayer Book for Australia). I would have to say that their understanding of the perichosis of the trinity is flawed and has little theological basis to assert that the Son is subordinate to the Father both pre-Incarnation and following his exaltation. To make it perfectly clear therefore, the Son expressed a functional subordination to the Father only during his Incarnational state in order to fulfil their plan to bring salvation and as an logical and necessary expression of his (full) humanity. (cf Phil 2:6-11). It is unwarranted (as some do), to use such an argument from the trinity as the basis that women are co-equal and ontologically equal to men, but are to be subordinate in function. To do this would be a contradiction of the plain teaching of Genesis 1:27-28.
    1 Cor 14:32-33
    The context: Paul is still addressing disorder in the public worship within the churches (It is plural in the Gk and reflected in the text of the NIV, highlighting they were congregational meetings. ) The usual discussion revolves around the meaning of the word 'silent' (Gk: ). Used in Lk 9:36; 18:39, 20:26; Acts 12:17; 15:12, 13; Rom 16:25, 1 Cor 14:28,30,34. The noun is used only twice: Acts 21:40 & Rev 8:1.
    Gordon Fee, along with C.K. Barratt, both of which would be regarded as conservative Biblical scholars, regard vss 33-34 as an interpolation. Briefly, the reasons are the witness of the Western Greek text, the difficulty of finding a viable solution to the contradiction they establish with ch 11 and the variations of where the verses appear in other (original Greek) texts. Fee believes that they were first written as a gloss in the margin by someone who,
    probably in light of 1 Tim 2:9-15 felt the need to qualify Paul's instructions even further. Since the phenomenon of glosses making their way into the biblical text is so well documented elsewhere in the NT (e.g., John 5:3b-4; 1 John 5:7), there is not good historical reason to reject the possibility here. 14
    Leaving aside the textual problems which these two verses raise where they are found in the Western text following verse 40, it should be noted that Paul assumes that women will be still praying, prophesying and speaking in tongues in the assembly as seen earlier in ch 11, the gifts ch 12 and now ch 14. (Women prophets are mentioned explicitly in Acts 21:9.) Therefore, the command not to speak is qualified by this background. Verse 35 probably gives the solution: they are chattering amongst themselves (about which we can only speculate). The noun 'to speak' () is used throughout ch 14 extensively by Paul, but in the sense of inspired speech, but it does have the plainer and Gk Classical meaning of 'to chatter'. Paul may simply have switched implied meanings unconsciously while still using the same verb to cover both. The women, in fact, wives ('let them ask their husbands at home. . .' depending on how woman/wife and man/husband are translated as they are interchangeable in the Greek and determined by context), were probably sitting separate to their husbands as this was a Jewish practice and many have influenced the arrangement within the assembly.15 Additionally, women in the Jewish synagogue took no part in the service. In addition to this possibility, women in the ancient world would often sit separately to the men with the children. (This is the case today in many churches in African and Indian society.) Their gender was generally despised in Greco-Roman society and their need of education not often promoted or considered. Paul does not clarify which part of the Old Testament Law he is referring to in order to bolster his position in vs 34. Presumably it is Gen 3:16.
    Some objections such as that Paul is referring to an entirely different context in ch 11:5ff and this is referring to a house assembly are ingenious and dependent on a priori assumptions of which there is no evidence that there were different types of assemblies or churches in which women were permitted to exercise their spiritual gifts but not in others. What is more likely is that they are chattering amongst themselves about what was being taught or said and may have been calling out to their husbands for information. Verse 36 is most likely referring to the male prophets as vs 37 is an explanation of who Paul is addressing. It is not the women, as Paul has returned to his original theme of the conduct of prophets in the church to make a concluding comment before moving onto the teaching of the resurrection in ch 15.
    1 Tim 2:11-15
    These verses, especially verse 15 are perhaps the most difficult to interpret. That there are so many interpretations, reconstructions of the Ephesian church and the historical background to which this letter is dealing with via Timothy, whould suggest caution about being certain that we understand the context and meaning of this passage.
    The letter is addressed to Timothy, who is located in the church in Ephesus. There are false teachers of doctrine active in the church. Two church leaders have been expelled for this (1:20). Some elders need to be publically rebuked due to continuing sin, while the rest are to take note (5:20). Within the church there are members preoccupied with 'myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations' (1:4; 4:7). It would appear that the Law of the OT is disputed also. The letter not only begins with Paul's concern about false teaching in the Ephesian church – it ends with a plea to Timothy to "avoid profane chatter . . . and what is falsely called knowledge" (6:20).
    Are the women involved in some way? Women receive a disproportionate attention within the letter. "In fact, there is no other NT letter in which they figure so prominently."16 Paul covers such areas as their qualifications as deacons (3:11), appropriate behaviour between an older woman and a younger (5:2), their decorum and dress, support of widows in the church (5:11-15), family responsibilities toward destitute widows ((5:3-8). He pin points the scandalous behaviour by some of going from house to house speaking about things they ought not to (5:13). That it is more than gossip is indicated that some have already turned to Satan (5:15). There are no explicit female false teachers mentioned in 1 Timothy but false apostles are mentioned in the Letter to the Ephesian Church in Revelation 2:1-7. The false teachers (whether inside or out of the church) teach that marriage is to be avoided and that certain foods are to be abstained (4:3). In response, Paul teaches that widows who are still relatively young should remarry (5:14). Paul is keen to highlight the goodness of God's creation and the perpetually of the Creation ordinances, contra the false teachers (4:4-5). This would go some of the way to explain 2:15. A good way to see 1 Timothy 2:9-15 is that Paul is addressing a particular heresy focused on women and their roles.
    Exegetical approaches
    Many of the opponents of women's ordination do so by failing to account for 2:15 and treat only the preceding verses, vss 11-14. Worse, they have a blind spot by not applying 1 Tim 2:9-10 or by failing to express any real interest in the application of vss 9-10. These verses are conveniently ignored, perhaps on the basis that our prevailing culture does not demand it, injecting into the discussion the role culture plays in our interpretation while they are quite happy to deny this method of exegesis to their opponents (those who advocate women's ordination). Such inconsistency in both the application of the text (by ignoring 2:9-10) and its interpretation would be amusing except for its seriousness.
    If this is bad enough, worse is to come. It is poor scholarship to separate vs 15 from vss 13-14. In order to explain vs 15 it will probably require the commentator to explain the preceding verses in the light of vs 15. But, for example, George W. Knight's book . . . never discusses verse 15. Susan Foh ends her discussion of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 by saying: "The last verse (v. 15) in this section is a puzzle and a sort of non sequitur."17
    The statements of Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are ad hoc; specifically to the particular situation of this church where false teaching is focused on women and their role. They are not to be understood as universal principles for all places and all times. Furthermore, the verb 'to have authority' is also misunderstood due to its poor translation. The verb 'authenteo' is usually translated as 'to dominate, to seize authority'. Moulton's Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised puts it as: to have authority over, domineer. The noun () points to its rich meaning of . . . "one acting by his own authority or power, a contraction of the noun – one who executes with his own hand".18
    Returning to the passage: Paul is selective in his use of Genesis 2 and 3 when emphasising that Adam was created first and that the woman was deceived. There is good evidence that Paul was recounting the Jewish tradition from Sirach 25:24 – in order to rebut the women who were influenced by the false teaching and making claims which had to be put to rest. In contrast, Paul also quotes Genesis 3 in Romans 5:12 & 14 to show the culpability of one man, Adam, in bringing sin into the entire world. In each situation Paul is using Genesis 3 to make a theological point and it would be unfair and inconsistent to impute blame onto either Adam or Eve and ignore the other in their role of the Fall with the selective use of either 1Tim 2:15 or Rom 5:12.
    The historical context
    The city of Ephesus was dominated by the temple dedicated to the Greek god Artemis (Acts 19:28-37). The cult of Artemis exalted the females and considered them superior to males.
    It was believed that Artemis was the child of Zeus and Leto and the sister of Apollo. Instead of seeking fellowship among her own kind, she sought the company of a human male consort. This made Artemis and all her female adherents superior to men. . . . While some may have believed that Artemis appeared first and then her male consort, the true story was just the opposite. For Adam was formed first then Eve (vs 13) (Emphasis in italics added.) And Eve was deceived to boot (vss 14) – hardly a basis on which to claim superiority. The cult of Artemis would also explain Paul's statement that "women will be saved through childbirth" (vs 15) for Artemis was the protector of women. Women turned to her for safe travel through the childbearing process.19
    "The concept of woman and her seed as the first cause was in harmony with the religious views of Asia Minor and especially of Ephesus, where the maternal principle reigned supreme. W.M. Ramsay maintained that it was not by accident that the Virgin Mary was declared Theotokos ("bearer of God") at Ephesus, where Artemis had herself borne the same title."20
    A better approach would be to take 1 Timothy 2:11-15 for that church, in that time, for that situation where women were influenced by false teaching which was speculative and dependent on the cult of Artemis which promoted women above men.
    Finally, women today are not dependent solely on apostolic tradition and teaching which resided in an offically appointed male. We now have the New Testament canon. When Paul writes to Timothy: 'Guard what has been entrusted to you' (6:20), he is highlighting the location of the truth that had been passed onto him and not the false teachers. In the ancient world, the reliability of the teaching rested on the authority of the person. Often this authority was derived from their rhetorical ability, or from their relationship to a revered master as his disciple. This was called ipse dixit teaching. A good example of this is Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount ('I say to you . . . '). With the New Testament available, this is no longer the case. We now have a written Word which both men and women are able to teach with confidence and authority. This appeal to the use of Scripture as the basis of determining matters of faith, doctrine and practice is one of the cornerstones of the Protestant faith.
    Part B: The example of Jesus and Paul
    There is the weight of secondary evidence reported in Scripture about the status of women which betrays in a circumstantial way, the implicit value of them in the life and ministry of Jesus and Paul. For example, it is women who are the first eyewitnesses to the resurrection and their testimony was accepted as credible.
    Mary and Martha were taught by Jesus. Mary adopts the position of a devoted disciple at her home for which she is commended. (Lk 10:38-42) That Jesus side stepped the Jewish cultural norm that women should not be taught, especially by a rabbi, indicates an ethical value which ought to be normative in the Kingdom of God.
    The co-workers of Paul were women: Euodia and Syntyche (Phil 4:2-3); Stephana might very well have been a woman (1 Cor 16:15), given the feminine ending of the name. There is Priscilla, Tryphanena and Tryphosa which he calls 'workers'. Rom 16:3, 12.
    Phoebe is described as a diakonon of the church in Cenchreae (Rom 16:1) Paul asks that she be given help in her ministry as he would any other co-worker of the gospel. Then there is Junias (Rom 16:7) who is associated with the group of earliest apostles.
    Part C: Theological reflections
    Two major themes operate in the New Testament which provide a background against which we should place Genesis 3. These two themes are the re-creation of the world which begins and is seen in the resurrection of Christ and the reconciliation of all people and things to God. In Galatians 3:25 ('neither male or female') considered the 'Magna Carta' of the New Testament, the gender differences are not only relegated to a secondary place along with ethic and social divisions in Christ, they are removed entirely. The locus of the outworking of this new status 'in Christ' is surely in his body, the Church.
    In 2 Cor 5:17-21 'all things new and the reconciliation of all things' The great and grand theological themes should set the context in which to read the individual texts against, especially when those individual texts are not particularly clear, or appear to contradict other texts. These two major theological themes provide the trajectory for Biblical ethics and the ongoing process of ethical decision making when Scripture is silent on a specific issue such as the one which this topic highlights.
    A common assumption is that the culture of the Bible is normative or acceptable because it lacks explicit condemnation of certain practices. An example of this is slave ownership, a position we would not consider tenable today. Both the abolition of slavery and the re-establishment of the gender equality were implicit in the actions by Jesus and Paul, and particularly in Paul's teaching. What limited their application was the likelihood that the new found liberality and freedom would lead to a rush of over enthusiasm on the part of slaves and women which would bring the gospel and the fledgling church into disrepute. Paul was careful to maintain a balance between social norms of Roman society and the expectation that social change had been released in this world by the death of Christ for all men and women regardless of their gender or status. (ie: the Kingdom of God had appeared.)
    Consider the following proposition: if men are able to exercise leadership, celebrate the sacraments, teach women, on what basis is this made? Common responses range from that they are appointed by God, that Jesus appointed twelve men, that the Scripture only permits men to teach. In the past claims have been made about the rationality of men and the domination of an emotional temperament in women and the superior character and moral strength of men to withstand temptation or doctrinal error. These views were prevalent during the Reformation and the Victorian era in our society. There have also been the subtle claims that women are inferior to men on the basis of their gender and biological functions –which is little more than Christian men using dubious ancient Greek philosophy which was imbibed with dualism, to justify their position from Scripture. When the issue of women's role ministry in the church is explored, our personal bias shaped by our family of origin, our culture, education, social status and prejudices. These will all be exposed, leaving us feeling insecure. A common reaction is therefore, to fight for certainty, security and the retention of the status quo where men are in control. Yet these previously hidden prejudices, of which we are unaware of, subtly shape our ability to hunt down texts in Scripture which justify or confirm our pre-existing position.
    Concluding thoughts
    The topic tonight has really touches on the following issues:
    (i) how we interpret the individual texts of Scripture – whether it is a flat view, or a progressive view in which Scripture is read in the light of its historical and theological context
    (ii) how we are shaped by our culture, status, educational experience and the role this plays in guiding our interpretation of Scripture
    (iii) how we view God in essentially masculine images
    (iv) how do I overcome my immediate and natural response to reject new knowledge which I find threatening or the cause of uncomfortable feelings
    (v) how do I live with a new 'truth' without feeling that I must leave my Evangelical home or the feeling that am being disloyal.
    The flip side of these issues will leave us
    (i) having to define what is the basis that men make to be in positions of power, leadership, teaching and ordination
    (ii) whether women are fully human. To deny the role of women in the life and ministry of the body of Christ is to imply they are deficient in some way and less than fully human.
    (iii) confronting a hegemony maintained by some within the Evangelical world in our hermeneutical task. This hegemony is maintained by casting aspersions on the moral and theological credibility of those who differ with them.
    (iv This topic also exposes the Evangelical habit of branding people with slogans to avoid the need to do the hard thinking which is required and the need to respect and love those who are different from their entrenched position. In short, this topic highlights the inability by many Evangelicals to deal with truths in paradox and the dynamic of Scripture which does not necessarily confirm pre-existing faith position, but challenges it at the deepest point of their being: their sense of identity and status. To engage with the Biblical text and consider that it supports the full participation by women in the life and ministry of the church, let alone the family, will challenge the epistemology of the Evangelical which gives them security and confidence. Too often, such exegetical methods and approach to Scripture reflect more of the impact of Logical Positivism than what is warranted by the internal hermeneutic of Scripture itself. )
    (v) Evangelical leaders in this field who are opposed to women in leadership and ordination often forget that their opponents believe in the same God, the same book of Scriptures and the same classical creeds such as the Nicene Creed. What is at stake is that they want everyone to believe exactly what they do before they will be trusted. This unfortunately is a denial of the teaching of Jesus to love another and it also reflects their unconscious adoption of Enlightenment philosophical approaches in epistemology: a highly evidence based approach dependent on a narrow set of texts which are often read without acknowledgement of the historical and cultural context in which they are located.

    1 Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh Sexuality in the Old Testament (Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), p. 29.

    2 Aida Besancon Spencer, Beyond the Curse (Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), p. 29.

    3 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 (Eerdmans, , 1990), pp. 201-202 follows this line.

    4 Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1-15 (Word, 1987), p 81.

    5 Davidson, pp. 64-65.

    6 Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (John Knox Press, 1982), p. 51.

    7 Davidson, p. 79.

    8 C.K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (2nd Edition, A & C Black, London, 1971), pp. 248-250.

    9 Barratt, pp. 248-249.

    10 Barratt, p. 251.

    11 Barratt, p. 253.

    12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subordinationist#Evangelicals

    13 http://www.anglicanstogether.org/files/Piggin.pdf This is an article written and delivered for the launch of the book by Dr Stuart Piggin.

    14 Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1987 ), p. 705. See also his conclusions on pp. 707-708. See also Barratt, pp. 330 & 332.

    15 Fee, p. 703.

    16 Linda L. Belleville, "Exegetical Fallacies in Interpreting 1 Timothy 2:11-15", Priscilla Papers (Summer 2003), 17:3, p. 3.

    17 David M. Scholer, "1 Timothy 2:9-15 & The Place of Women in the Church's Ministry", Women, Authority & The Bible (IVP, 1986), p. 195.

    18 Harold K. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised (1978 Edition, Zondervan, 1977), p. 59.

    19 Belleville, p. 7.

    20 Catherine Clark Kroeger, "1 Timothy 2:12- A Classicist's View", Women, Authority & The Bible (IVP, 1986), p. 233.

    This Paper was presented to a CBE open meeting on Feb 5 2009 by REv RobCulhane. Rob was previously a Church of Christ Minister. He was ordained in the Anglican Church in 2008 and is currently the Curate at All Saints Clayton in Melbourne.