A Rereading of Woman in the Garden: With Fretheim

I’ve been reading a collection of Terence Fretheim’s essays over the last month that have been fantastic in offering his many insights into theology and Scripture. Fretheim is one of those OT scholars who can write in a way that is both accessible and constructively provocative. One of the essays, “Creator, Creature, and Co-Creation in Genesis 1-2” offers the following four points regarding a reading of Genesis 1-2 and certain “androcentric” (man centered) readings:

  1. For the woman to be created from the rib of the ‘adam entails no subordination, any more that the ‘adam‘s being created from the ground implies his subordination.

  2. For the woman to be called helper (‘ezer) carries no implications regarding the status of the one who helps; indeed, God is more often called the helper of human beings (Psalm 121). The suggestion that Eve’s helping in this text as to do with motherhood is insufficient. Helping for Eve cannot be collapsed into procreation, not least because the immediate outcome specified in vv. 24-25 does not focus on this concern.

  3. For the woman to be named by the ‘adam does not entail the authority of man over woman, any more than Hagar’s naming of God entails such authority in [Genesis] 16:13. Naming has to do with an act of discernment regarding the nature of relationships, as in the naming of the animals by ‘adam. Moreover, if the ‘adam is already ruler over the woman in chapter 2, then the sentence of 3:16 represents no judgment.

  4. Finally, contrary to some recent opinion, one ought not consider ‘adam as an “earth creature” without sexual identity before the creation of woman, so that the creation of man and woman is simultaneous. Without an explicit linguistic marker that the meaning of the word ‘adam changes from “earth creature” to “the man,” it will be read the same throughout this section…. In any case, being created first or last has nothing to do with priority or subordination. (Chan, Michael J. and Brent A. Strawn, eds., What Kind of God?: Collected Essays of Terence E. Fretheim [Siphrut 14; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015], p.202)

Here Freitheim reminds readers that male centered readings of the creation account/s in Genesis 1-2 do not in fact support the subordination of women as part of the “creational order,” but that any subordinating which occurs is the result of fallen-ness.

Re-Examining Pentecostal Readings of Female Characters in the Bible – SPS Symposium

I received the following great news yesterday that a symposium on “Re-Examining Pentecostal Readings of Female Characters in the Bible” has been approved for the 2019 Society for Pentecostal Studies annual meeting. Here are the details of the symposium:

I am incredibly grateful to be a participant and am looking forward to presenting with these amazing scholars on such an important topic.

Challenging Gendered Leadership in the Old Testament: A Webinar at Co-Laborate

HERE is a webinar I was invited to speak for at “Co-Laborate: Men & Women Together: Pentecostal Theology & Praxis” with host Dr. Debbie Fulthorp on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. I spoke on the topic “Challenging Gendered Leadership in the Old Testament”.

The three primary ideas/images regarding the role and function of women in leadership in the OT that I selected to share about are:

  • Mother
  • Prophet
  • Wisdom

I present a few texts from the OT in reference to each idea/image and offer these as related to my own hermeneutic of discerning the trajectory of Scripture rather than simply extracting principles. I regard such images in the OT as indicative of what the Spirit has always been at work doing to empower for life and redemption.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the webinar and any of the texts and subjects discussed (provided it is done with civility and love).

Let Women Remain Silent (or Not)

Women Should Remain Silent (?)Last week in class we discussed 1 Corinthians 14.33-35. Talk about a controversial text. How does one properly interpret such a passage?  I was asked by a number of friends if I might post my notes on this. Instead of posting notes, here are “points to ponder” in working toward a proper interpretation of this passage. Perhaps I should mention at the beginning that I did not bring up the typical explanation of this being a house church wherein the women and men sat in different areas (a much later practice nowhere testified to in the NT) and thus the women would be somehow disruptive by asking their husbands something from across the room. Such a maneuver requires a historical reconstruction of which (at best) is shaky. So I offer the following after the verses in question:

 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV2011)

Points to ponder:
* The paragraph break for the end of verse 33 in various translations alters the reading with relation to the universal sense? Is God about peace and order “in all the churches of the saints” or are women to remain silent “as in all the churches of the saints”? (See my comments on the translations HERE). The former is followed in the such translations as the ESV and NIV84, the latter in the footnote of NIV84 and the NLT. The grammar is ambiguous. The theology, points to the latter as the more likely referent.
* “Woman” in verse 34 is clarified by speaking to ‘her husband’ in verse 35. How would this apply to single women? Does it only immediately then apply to married women?
* Women were already told they could “prophesy and pray” in 1 Cor.11.6 as long as they do so with propriety. How then should we understand not being allowed to “speak” in 1 Cor.14.34? It would not be a total speaking censure.
* this passage is framed before and after by discussions of prophesying and its proper regulation for orderliness. Has this passage shifted contexts or is it actually still regulating prophecy in the church to function in an orderly manner? How so?
* To “ask her husband” is grammatically suggestive (following the extensive lexical and semantic analysis of Waldemar Kowalski’s paper at SPS 2013 in Seattle, WA) of a critiquing and (likely) rejection. If this is actually about prophesying it would point to a husband prophesying and his wife questioning it (or him) in a negative way. While the others are already instructed to weigh what is said, if the wife of the one prophesying were to do so in the corporate worship setting it would lack propriety. She should therefore save such a questioning for the privacy of their home.
So where might this leave us for interpretation? How do you read this? Do these talking “points” help you to better understand some of the issues involved?
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* It is also of note that Gordon Fee (in his NICNT commentary on 1 Corinthians) points out that some of the manuscript evidence places this text (vv.34-35) to after the chapter. His proposal (which I personally find weak, but mention because…well…its Fee) is that this text is not original to 1 Corinthians.