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November 29, 2012


Doug Wilson on N.T.Wright’s Women Bishops “Arguments”

I love the way that Doug Wilson writes. I might not always agree with what he writes but he has a beautiful way of putting things that only enhances what he’s saying. So, in a series of recent posts on the Women Bishops nonsense in the Church of England, and particularly N.T.Wright’s contributions, he has come up with some corkers,

Wright also says that Junia is listed among the apostles (Rom. 16:7). He earlier was dismissive of the unusual words in 1 Tim. 2, but here is apparently unaware of the common uses of the noun and verb forms of apostello. An apostle is a “sent one,” and the verb means “to send.” Jesus was an apostle of God (Heb. 3:1), the twelve were apostles of Christ (Luke 6:13), and Paul and Barnabas were apostles of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:2-4). How much authority is involved is a pure function of the sending agency, and what the sent one is commissioned to do. Of course Junia was a sent one. But whose? To what purpose? The mere use of the word gives us no basis for promoting someone who was sent for coffee to the ranks of the Twelve.

and then this,

Debates over issues like women’s ordination are not like solving an algebra problem. Before one side can prevail, they must first get their option on the table as a “reasonable option.” Step one is “consistent Christians differ on issue x.” Step two is the insistence on the new orthodoxy. When I laugh at the exegesis of 1 Tim. 2:12 offered up in journals like Serious Scholars Clown Car Review, I am not just indulging my own sense of humor. I am fighting the monstrosity at step one. I am anticipating the play that is being run on us. So should everybody else. This is not the first time this has happened, everybody.

...

In the CoE, the liberal sin was lying, and the conservative sin was just one more chapter in that endless tome we like to read calledGullible’s Travels.

So when serious scholars tell you that pink is blue, and you pull thoughtfully on your chin, and ask, pensively, whether or not, at the end of the day, there might be other readings that allow for a different take on this—congratulations. You have already lost. And—not incidentally—your whole approach to life is the reason you lose so much.

This is marvelous too,

But the problem with translation ninja moves is that more than one can play. Once we have kicked over our exegetical traces, and we are no longer trammeled by those doggone original words, then that misogynist Zeke, who lives up the road a piece, might think himself up to this kind of translation his very own self.

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim. 2:12, ESV).

“I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; they should be left undisturbed” (1 Tim. 2:12, Wright).

“I do not permit a woman to drive stick shift unless a man is present to yell at her; rather, she should stay at home and make us some biscuits. The kind we like, with fresh butter” (1 Tim. 2:12, Zeke).

And let us enquire, in a spirit of frank and earnest investigation, whether Zeke has done anything in principle that Wright didn’t do—with the possible exception that Wright knew what he was doing.

and then this

If all Christian ministry begins with witnessing to the resurrection, as Wright maintains, then what is with ordination? What is that about? Can an unlearned man be a witness of the resurrection? Sure. Should an unlearned man be ordained to the ministry. No. Did the man born blind testify more powerful to Jesus Christ than the whole bench of bishops (Jn. 9:25)? He sure did. Should that man have been made a pastor in the early church? No idea.

There’s plenty more, but I think you get the point.

I think this picture I made sums much of it up well.

(Image created with this).


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107 comments

So would it be wrong for one to think that Dr Wright has deliberately perverted Scripture?

[1] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-29-2012 at 09:07 PM · [top]

I don’t believe Wright has considered the implications of WO in an intellectually consistent (honest?) manner. He just bought the party line from the start and read it back into his (alleged) exegesis.

[2] Posted by Jagged Edge on 11-29-2012 at 10:08 PM · [top]

Well, his rather ummmm creative way of coming to conclusions gave me pause before, but now….

[3] Posted by A Senior Priest on 11-29-2012 at 11:19 PM · [top]

Wow!  This appears to be shamefully biased on Wright’s part.  Wright is a too good a scholar not to acknowledge the fact that the operative phrase in Romans 16:7,  “who are of note among the apostles” can just as easily mean well known among, or by, or to the apostles—as in the ESV: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles....  And there is plenty of current scholarship to support this translation.

Secondly, an unbiased scholar has to acknowledge that the extant manuscripts do not agree as to whether the name is Junia or Junias; and, even if it is Junia, we cannot be certain whether the name is definitely female.

Then there is the problem that this text is the only place Andronicus and Junia are ever mentioned, (Anyone ever heard of St. Andronicus?  No, I haven’t either.) making it far more likely that they were simply believers who were known to the apostles rather than actually being apostles themselves. 

But, even if Andronicus and Junia are actually apostles, this merely means that they were eyewitnesses to the Resurrection and messengers of the Gospel.  It does not indicate whether either of them were ever ordained or set apart as deacons or presbyters.  It should be obvious that apostleship is not synonymous with ordination, since not everyone who was an eyewitness to the Resurrection and a messenger of the Gospel became a deacon, or presbyter, or bishop. 

So the bottom line is that Romans 16:7 is really not much help at all in the question of the ordination of women.

[4] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 11-29-2012 at 11:28 PM · [top]

Arguably the biggest problem with +Wright’s analysis is that very few of his associates share it - most proponents of women bishops in CofE do not care about the scriptural arguments, whether pro or con.

[5] Posted by MichaelA on 11-30-2012 at 03:28 AM · [top]

Gen 3:1     Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Ah, once again the search for the “deeper” meaning which unmoors the Ship of Souls from the anchor of Scripture to sail the seas of advocacy for the cultural milieu.

Thus ever it begins, continues, and ends ...

[6] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 11-30-2012 at 08:55 AM · [top]

The question then is “why?”  Why is it so important to N.T. Wright that women should be consecrated as bishops that he is willing to stake his (considerable) intellectual reputation on it?  Whom does he know who will benefit (or not) if his view prevails?  It seems that whenever a reputable Christian scholar or pastor goes off the rails in some way there is a personal connection involved somewhere.  I have no knowledge whatever of Bishop Wright’s personal life.  It just seems to me that there must be some reason for him to stray so far from solid exegesis.

[7] Posted by Ann Castro on 11-30-2012 at 09:45 AM · [top]

RE: “Arguably the biggest problem with +Wright’s analysis is that very few of his associates share it - most proponents of women bishops in CofE do not care about the scriptural arguments, whether pro or con.”

I can’t say about the CofE, but the people whom I first met and hung out with in The Episcopal Church solidly supported women’s ordination, were as orthodox as I in regards to the truth and authority of Holy Scripture and every other doctrine, and simply believed that Scripture supported WO

In fact, most of the otherwise traditional Episcopalians I know—charismatic or evangelical—and I now know many many many many more than when I was confirmed in TEC—support WO on the basis of what they believe that Scripture teaches.  As I delved into that I determined three important things:

1) They had the same beliefs as I did about Truth, reality, and the text of Scripture—unlike the revisionist activists who also supported WO and who simply don’t believe in the existence of revealed, infallible Truth.  I tried to somehow work out that my Episcopal friends didn’t—but they did.

2) The vast vast vast vast majority weren’t going to change their beliefs, under any circumstances and despite all of the so-called “devastating rejoinders” of the rest of us.

3) And further, they weren’t even going to engage and were supremely indifferent to those of us who are over here making our little arguments—or in the case of Doug Wilson, merely playing cute rhetorical games for his own select audience at a man who was making an entirely different argument about another matter to a completely different audience, some of which are as lacking in integrity and cohesion as NT Wright’s [both deserve each other, in regards to the unique combination of vacuity, cleverness, *and* self-regard, in the same package; Wilson reminds me of the kids I hung out with who all played Dungeons and Dragons, and cackled with one another about their Mensa memberships, and to whom most others paid no attention].

How many of us go hang out over at Tridentine rite RC blogs as they debate various fine points of their rites, and ponder over the writings of Marcel Lefebvre and argue about whether the sedevancantists have gone soft? Hopefully, none at all [although with this crew, who knows?]  That’s how likely it is that the guys who have really studied and thought through and come to these conclusions [I’m not talking about the populists who won’t change their minds either] will ever be over here churning out pro-WO arguments for our consideration.

We may gnash about it, and say cute mocking things amongst ourselves, and talk about how they *ought* to do this or that or say this or that or believe this or that, and we can point out all the flaws in their reasoning till the cows come home, but 1) they won’t see it, or 2) they won’t care if they do see it, and 3) they certainly won’t change their minds because they’re not living in the same world as we are, regarding this question.

I didn’t meet people like “us”—people who don’t support WO and have never believed it scriptural [which would be me]—until very very late on.

The only question for me—way back in the 90s, as I considered these realities was—how was I going to deal with these people?  Later on, far into the future [now recent past] I also recognized that I didn’t have any desire to be in the vast majority of Anglican churches that were anti-WO, for the simple fact that I didn’t enjoy the people in them nearly as much—which is another matter entirely but has puzzled me quite a bit.

[8] Posted by Sarah on 11-30-2012 at 10:32 AM · [top]

It is intriguing to see the argument continue on this level (fo’ o’ ag’in’ women in the episcopate) when the issue in the CofE has shifted to:

“We’re going ahead with women in the episcopate.  What provision will be made for those in the church who can’t go along with that change?” 

Sarah’s post just above made me think, “Hmm, more arguments fo’ o’ ag’in’ are just finger pokes, since the positions are settled.”

So one Biblical question is, “How do I put others ahead of myself/my interest group, since we’ve all decided on different paths?”  Some in the CofE seem to have learned from observing TEC - the demand for unconditional surrender simply creates a bit o’ schism and a whole lot of decline.

[9] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 11-30-2012 at 10:58 AM · [top]

Gee Sarah, what is so wrong about hanging out at Tridentine rite RC blogs?  Rorate Caeli is a fine read.  And to not be off topic: Dr. Wright is Wrong. It is impossible to ordain a woman (validly).

[10] Posted by via orthodoxy on 11-30-2012 at 12:23 PM · [top]

ART. XX Articles of Religion “...the church may not ordain anything that is contrary to scripture…”
Unfortunatley those proponents of WO in 1976 et. seq. did not bother to meet the burden of proof here stated, and now the burden has been shifted to the corolarry: in order to dis-establish WO it is necessary for the opponents of WO to prove it is not ordained by scripture.  Up side down logic.
There have been several studies, e.g. the one undertaken by AMiA and Bp. Rogers, that have concluded,after the fact, that WO is not ordained by scripture and hence, while AMiA existed, it did not engage in that folly…ACNA is commisioning a similar study apparently, but I fear that the messenger pigeon in that grouping may have already flown…I pray not.  Perhaps adherence to Art. XX as the appropriate standard might influence the outcome of that.
There seems to be little tolerance these days for those who have legitimate arguments against WO.  We have an orthodox group in formation and this issue is most divisive and effects peoples attitudes more than any other, so much so that any mention of groups such as FiFNA runs people away…pity.

[11] Posted by aacswfl1 on 11-30-2012 at 12:56 PM · [top]

#11. ascswfl1,
“ACNA is commissioning a similar study apparently, but I fear that the messenger pigeon in that grouping may have already flown…I pray not.” What do you mean by this comment? This is a statement that concerns me.” the first major conversation will be a study of hermeneutical issues, specifically looking at how the Church’s tradition and culture influence interpretation of Biblical texts” I hope they will not see the Scriptures as androcentric.

[12] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-30-2012 at 01:42 PM · [top]

There have been several studies, e.g. the one undertaken by AMiA and Bp. Rogers, that have concluded,after the fact, that WO is not ordained by scripture and hence, while AMiA existed, it did not engage in that folly

Actually, the AMIA Report was inconclusive on the issue of WO.  I think that it was a pretty good report, allowing advocates on both sides of the issue to make their best arguments.  But the report concluded saying basically that there were solid arguments pro and con, and that the best thing to do was await a Communion consensus on the issue.

I think Sarah’s post #8 contains a lot of wisdom.  I think it is dishonest and irresponsible to suggest that arguments pro-WO are on the same level as other liberal arguments, just as it is dishonest and irresponsible to suggest that WO opponents are all misogynists cave-dwellers. 

I am a supporter of WO, but would consider myself pretty conservative on most issues.  I say this to tell you that I know liberal-crap arguments when I see them, and I have seen a lot of liberal-crap arguments about WO, but those arguments never swayed me at all.  No, it has been the well thought out arguments from conservative scholars (not all pro-WO, BTW) which brought me to my current position.  I have no desire to rehash them, and that’s not my point here.  My point is to say that conservative supporters of WO can and do distinguish between the liberal non-serious arguments for WO, and intellectually serious pro-WO arguments.

My next point is that I also have tremendous respect for the non-WO arguments, and find the most persuasive ones to be those dealing with church unity.  But all in all, it is my belief that there are very solid arguments on both sides of the issue, thus I think that we need to accept that serious, thoughtful, conservative Christians can hold different opinions on this issue.  And no, that doesn’t mean that this same statement can be made on all issues - rather my point is that on SOME issues, there are two legitimate arguments that can be made.  Both can’t be right, but there is sufficient “fog of war” that we can’t determine which side is “right” for now.  On the other hand, there are some issues in which there really are NOT two legitimate arguments, and for which it is abundantly clear which side is “right” and which side is “wrong”.

Whatever either side (pro or no WO) thinks, there WILL be conservative Anglicans who advocate a different position, and that it is dishonest, irresponsible and unhelpful to make false statements about each other.  Thus, to paraphrase a favorite LOTR quote:
Advocate: “I wish everyone would just agree with me.”
Gandalf: “So do all who hold such positions, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is how we will live with those Scripturally-committed and conservative Anglican colleagues who hold a legitimate position with which we disagree.”

It seems to me that there are basically three options:
1) Whatever group is in the majority (i.e. pro-WO in England, non-WO in ACNA) can simply enforce its own position on everyone without regard for the minority POV.  No considerations, no exceptions.  Great if your side is in the majority, not so great if it isn’t.
2) Each group can go its separate way (and this might end up being the final resolution if option 1, above is chosen).
3) Work out a solution that is truly amenable to both sides.  This doesn’t mean that both sides will be 100% happy with it, but something that both sides can live with.

Personally, I am very opposed to options 1 and 2, and would have been amongst those pro-WO persons voting against the WO motion in the CofE.  I hope that the CofE is able to work out an acceptable version of option 3.

[13] Posted by jamesw on 11-30-2012 at 03:25 PM · [top]

And BTW, I would similarly be opposed to options 1 or 2 in ACNA and I would hope that those non-WO advocates in ACNA would have the same respect for the other side that they expect the other side to have for the non-WO folks in the CofE.

Personally, I doubt that the ACNA report will conclusively resolve the issue either way, unless one side manages to gain sufficient political clout to have a conclusion drawn up “their way”, in which case the other side will simply ignore it as being the result of political gerrymandering.

Anyone who expects a report (no matter how well drawn up - AMiA report is a case in point) to resolve things at this point is extraordinarily naive.

[14] Posted by jamesw on 11-30-2012 at 03:32 PM · [top]

Sarah, as you correctly point out, my post was about CofE, which is where +Wright is.  TEC is a different place.

Like it or not, there seem to be very few in CofE who are prepared to give a scriptural justification for consecrating women bishops (apart from one we saw recently, which essentially amounted to: ‘Paul said there was neither male nor female any more, so that proves it’).

That is the tragedy of +Wright’s scriptural arguments - very few people care, except those who disagree with him.  The ones who agree seem to have mostly moved on past irritating scriptural exegesis.

[15] Posted by MichaelA on 11-30-2012 at 03:49 PM · [top]

The basic problem I “hear” is that neither side is willing to “give” so there is a stalemate for lack of a better term. Option 1 is the TEC “way”. Our way or get out is the basic TEC motto now. I suspect option 2 will be the default position. Option 3 is not really desired by either side.

[16] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 11-30-2012 at 04:08 PM · [top]

“The only question for me—way back in the 90s, as I considered these realities was—how was I going to deal with these people?  Later on, far into the future [now recent past] I also recognized that I didn’t have any desire to be in the vast majority of Anglican churches that were anti-WO, for the simple fact that I didn’t enjoy the people in them nearly as much—which is another matter entirely but has puzzled me quite a bit.”

Thanks for putting that into words.

A good cadre of individuals who opinions I respect- and who are faithful Christians—are strongly pro-WO. Many are in the ACNA. They are not interested in debating the issue, and some (primarily clergy) take offense if it is raised.  This extends to the consecration of female bishops, with several viewing the current ACNA Diocesan ban as a temporary, political accommodation (which leads me to believe it will eventually disappear). 

There is absolutely no interest in what has always struck me as a common sense accommodation providing for a deaconess role, with a “grandfather” clause that accommodates existing in-place female clergy in parishes that desire them.  I regret that.

But, I love my church friends, pro and anti-WO, and have found that some of the most effective church leaders and biblical scholars I have ever met are female.  I could not imagine being in a church that did not allow women to be on the Vestry, or Wardens for that matter.  I want a church full of smart, assertive women who know how to through an occasional elbow.  I certainly married one.

Looks like I will have to learn to live with female Priests, although I really wish folks would seek an accommodation here.  Meanwhile, I will continue to listen to the Biblical arguments.

[17] Posted by Going Home on 11-30-2012 at 04:14 PM · [top]

I never heard of any reference to “the apostle Junia” until the day of the COE vote on women bishops. It’s not everyday one sees an evangelical like N.T. Wright on the same page with an emergent like Rachel Held Evans, who invoked “the apostle Junia” in denouncing the COE vote.

[18] Posted by the virginian on 11-30-2012 at 04:18 PM · [top]

The following is based on my observations: limited personal experience during a few scattered years in England, some comments from friends and relatives, and observation of public comments and the blogosphere.  Others may observe that that is not a lot to go on, given that CofE is a huge place.  I agree.  My opinions are largely based on anecdotal evidence (although a fair bit of it!):

Part of the problem with scriptural arguments in CofE is the different levels of theological training.  By that, I mean that I get many reports of English parishes being served by part-time or volunteer clergy, with “inadequate” (see below) theological training.  This is where most of the women clergy end up.  The parishes have too small ASA to support a full-time minister (let alone his family) so they end up with a lady over 50 who has done a relatively short theological training course. 

That course has probably skimped on things that I would see as essential to train a minister to grow a strong church - no study of Greek or Hebrew at all, virtually no training in preaching or detailed exegesis of scripture.

From my perspective, this is virtually guaranteed to provide a self-perpetuating decline in those parishes.  A decline in knowledge of bible among the laity, plus a more gradual decline in numbers.

It is hardly surprising that few bother coming out with detailed biblical arguments as per +Wright - many parishioners just aren’t used to them.

[19] Posted by MichaelA on 11-30-2012 at 04:28 PM · [top]

The effect of the point I raised at #15 is that +Wright is accomplishing no more than running interference for the liberals in CofE.  Harsh, but true.

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 11-30-2012 at 04:34 PM · [top]

Switching now to ACNA: Going home at #17, if those clergy are “not interested in debating the issue” and “take offense if it is raised”, then one wonders on what basis they expect that the current ACNA Diocesan ban will be temporary?

[21] Posted by MichaelA on 11-30-2012 at 04:38 PM · [top]

Going Home:

There is absolutely no interest in what has always struck me as a common sense accommodation providing for a deaconess role, with a “grandfather” clause that accommodates existing in-place female clergy in parishes that desire them.  I regret that.

But, you see, the problem is that your “common sense accommodation” reads to someone who is pro-WO like a complete capitulation.”

Problem is that accommodations need to work for both sides.  To take on a “well, here is the accommodation YOU should accept while I basically get my way, and if you don’t like it too bad” is the TEC/liberal way.

From my perspective, I think that what is needed would be:
1) Permit WO in all orders.
2) Have an iron-clad right of refusal for either parishes or clergy to serve under an ordained woman.
3) Ensure that every person ordained has at least one male doing the ordaining.
4) If there is any metropolitan or archbishop, ensure that that person is a man.

And I am not sure if there would be others. 
The no-WO advocates would wail and complain that there would be ordained women.  Too bad, they wouldn’t ever need to come under their authority and they would never need to doubt the “proper” ordination of anyone.
The pro-WO advocates would wail and complain that women would be “second class” priests or bishops.  Too bad, this is what being “mutually submissive” looks like.

[22] Posted by jamesw on 11-30-2012 at 04:45 PM · [top]

Understandably, the thread has veered in the direction of the question of women’s ordination and the propriety of women bishops, but I don’t think that D. Wilson should get a pass on his woefully uninformed and unfair post.  Leaving aside the question of how these texts are appropriated in the contemporary debates, it must be said that exegetically his post (and some of the comments) are indefensible, showing once again that in the blogosphere competence and confidence often co-exist in inverse proportions.

In the first place, regarding the translation of αὐθεντεῖν, Wilson might have at least consulted Bauer, Danker et al. (3rd ed. 2000), and he would have found that Wright is simply reproducing the gloss “dictate to,” a cautious and perfectly defensible translation (2nd ed. 1979 and 1st 1957 have “domineer over”) in light of the ancient lexical evidence. That he would use the ESV as his baseline, the deviation from which is counted as adventuresome revisionism, is highly problematic. After all, the KJV has the philologically astute “usurp authority” and the ASV “have dominion.” Subsequent translations have characteristically under-read the pejorative connotation that attaches to this NT hapax legomenon, but Wright’s “translation” can hardly be considered novel! It also apparently does not occur to Wilson that Paul has a perfectly common stereotyped expression for “having authority” in a positive or neutral sense —ἐξουσίαν ἐχεῖν (Rom 9:21; 1 Cor 7:37; 9:4, 5, 6; 11:10; 2 Thess 3:9)– and this is not it. Yes, some have made too much of the word in the service of an egalitarian argument, but I don’t see how that can be said of Wright’s example. (I should add that Wright’s translation of the rest of the verse does not impress me as very plausible, especially the bit of about women “being left alone” for εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ)
Secondly, Wilson’s facile treatment of Rom 16:7 is unpersuasive. Any student of language will know that appealing to a handy etymology (ἀπόστολος derived from ἀποστέλλω = merely “one who is sent”) is frequently problematic, ignoring, as it does the meaning of words and idioms as they come to be used, especially in this case where the term can bear a technical sense. As it turns out, in the Pauline corpus, leaving Rom 16:7 aside, the arthrous, plural ἀπόστολοι always denotes recognized body of authoritative Christian leaders, normally inclusive of the Twelve but not limited to them (1 Cor 4:9, inclusive of Paul and Apollos; 9:5 inclusive of at least Paul but excluding “the brothers of the Lord and Cephas”; 15:7 “all the apostles” probably including the Cephas, the Twelve, James but excluding Paul; 15:9, including Paul as belonging to fixed set of “apostles” as the “least”; Gal 1:19, Jerusalem apostles including James, the Lord’s brother; Eph 2:20 a fixed set of foundational Christian leaders corresponding to and conjoined to [early Christian prophets]; 3:5, an identifiable body of foundational apostles, likewise related to “prophets”; 4:11 one of the gifted offices along with prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers [if there is a usage that allows for a relatively undefined membership, this would be it]).  So it must be maintained on the basis of Pauline usage that the arthrous, plural construction describes a defined group of early Christian leaders, not just some folks sent to get coffee!  It must be further pointed out that Wilson’s interpretation falls apart upon itself, as there is no rhetorical point in saying that A. and J. are “outstanding among” (or even less “in the eyes of”) persons of no particular status, whereas the defined and technical use of the term, as already established, makes natural rhetorical sense.

As to the claim in the comments that there is a diversity in the manuscript tradition as to the gender of Junia, this is emphatically not the case. In fact, since a distinction in gender is knowable only by means of accentuation (Ἰουνίαν = feminine; Ἰουνιᾶν = masculine; both being first declension accusatives) the early (unaccented) MSS cannot bear direct witness to the gender of this person. But (1) there is no extant translation derived from the Gk text that understood this person to be male; (2) every later accented Greek MSS has accented the name as a feminine; (3) of the 16 extant ancient commentators on this text all but one regarded the person to be female (so J. Fitzmyer), and the lone exception (Epiphanius) is notoriously unreliable for his assumption that Prisca (16:3) was a man!  (4) On the other hand, famously, Chrysostom, a native Greek speaker, was entirely clear on this point: “Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of ‘apostle’ (Ep. ad Rom. 31.2).  (5) The only variation in the MSS tradition is in a few MSS which identify this person as “Julia,” betraying that the scribes understood her to be a woman. (6) Moreover, whereas the feminine name Junia (a Greek transliteration of a Latin name) is attested to some 250 times, there is no evidence in Greek or Latin of the masculine name Junias. The claim that it is a contraction for Junianus is a conjecture rooted in a series of entertaining 19th century academic misadventures based on impossible philology. That it persisted as long as it did is not only a fascinating study in the sociology of knowledge but a cautionary tale with respect to arguments from authority. 

The masculinizing of Junia is a surprisingly late (beginning in the 14th c., renewed in the 16th c.) and ultimately modern phenomenon. The first critical Greek text of the NT to have this reading is Alford’s mid-19th c. edition and it was not to be renewed until the Nestle-Aland 13th ed. in 1927, after which it took on a life of its own despite all of the evidence which stood against it. This is finally rectified in the N-A 27th (now 28th) and in later printings of the UBS 4th (interestingly the Hodges-Farstad edition of the Textus Receptus, has the name as feminine as did the KJV and all of its English predecessors).

The question that remains is whether the expression should be rendered “prominent/excellent/outstanding among the apostles” (including A. and J. as apostles) or “by the apostles” (excluding them from “the apostles”).  The arguments are somewhat technical, but the often-depended on article by M. Burer and D. Wallace which argues for the latter, “exclusive” view has now been satisfactorily refuted by J. E. Epp, R. Bauckham, and L. Belleville among others, never mind that for as long as Junia was Junias (a man) this interpretation had not occurred to NT grammarians (!), just as it was assumed by Chrysostom that Junia was both a woman and counted among “apostles.”

What that all means for women’s ordination, the NT knowing of no women presbyteroi or episkopoi, is debatable. I’m simply arguing that the textual and philological data oughtn’t be falsified in the interests of the controversy du jour, and in this case, the guilty party is rather more Wilson than Wright.

[23] Posted by Occasional Reader on 11-30-2012 at 04:58 PM · [top]

+Michael Nazir Ali headed a work group in 2004 that offered the following exhaustive 302 page report.
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/39784/gs1557.pdf

The conclusions are equivocal regarding women bishops. I thought this was an interesting statement.

8.1.6 This second line of argument, and the suggestion flowing
from it that women can legitimately be bishops, represents a
potential development of Christian doctrine, and the theological
question at the heart of the debate about the ordination of women
as bishops in the Church of England is whether it would be a legitimate
development.

8.1.16 What all should be able to agree is that the calling of the
Church of England is to pursue the path of justice. This is only and excerpt but does the term justice have it’s own baggage?

[24] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-30-2012 at 07:12 PM · [top]

#22. JamesW,
“The pro-WO advocates would wail and complain that women would be “second class” priests or bishops.”
Actually, I am anti-WO and would wail and complain that protections for dissenters would not only make the ordained women second class, it would make the parishioners second class. It would be divisive and create a church within a church. If it is considered a “transitional” move like TEC then it is also misguided or clandestine.

[25] Posted by Fr. Dale on 11-30-2012 at 07:23 PM · [top]

RE: ” . . . what is so wrong about hanging out at Tridentine rite RC blogs?”

I knew it!

; > )

RE: “That is the tragedy of +Wright’s scriptural arguments - very few people care, except those who disagree with him.  The ones who agree seem to have mostly moved on past irritating scriptural exegesis.”

I don’t see that Wright offered “scriptural arguments”—he seems to have offered *theological assumptions* for those on *his side* as an aside . . . which then, the Mensa-Dungeons-&-Dragons guy seized upon to show off to his posse of fellow pals. 

I do agree that those who agree with WO have moved on past any real articulation of much at all in the way of argument, or debate.  A percentage of those people don’t have anything to offer—they’re just the populists repeating the memes of their leaders and/or teachers—and another percentage do, but made their decisions 20 or more years ago and are long past trying to engage in any kind of convincing or persuading effort with the anti-WOers.

[26] Posted by Sarah on 11-30-2012 at 08:52 PM · [top]

I am amazed by all the slipshod arguments in these comments. Admittedly, Wilson is going in for rhetorical fireworks rather than solid argument. But other people, writing more circumspectly, have noted the travesty that is Wright’s translation of 1 Timothy 2. Consider for example this passage in a Books & Culture piece by Robert Gundry:

Perhaps the most obvious example of a translation slanted by interpretation appears earlier in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, which Tom renders as follows: “They [godly women] must study undisturbed, in full submission to God. I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather, that they should be left undisturbed.” Tom first replaces learning (from men) in quietness with studying undisturbed (by men). Then he imports “to God,” with no support in the Greek text, to make God rather than men the object of women’s submission—against the making of men, especially husbands, the objects of women’s submission according to Tom’s own translations of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35; Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5. Finally, he changes Paul’s “I don’t permit [a woman to teach men or dictate to them]” into a wishy-washy “I’m not saying that ….”

The third option proposed by “jamesw” is theologically incoherent. In practice it means that women are ordained to the priesthood but not the episcopate, in which case there is a class of people who are ordained as priests who cannot be bishops (contrary to Scripture and Tradition—see here ). Or it means that women are ordained to the episcopate too but there is room for a diversity of opinion, in which case some bishops of the church are not accepted by other bishops of the church as being valid or at least legitimate bishops. And that rapidly leads, as in the C of E, to no one being made a bishop who doesn’t support women’s ordination. There are no middle grounds on this that have an ecclesiologically coherent understanding of priests and bishops. We must choose either to follow or repudiate the universal Church’s unbroken understanding of the Scriptures until recent times. It’s really that simple.

Occasional Reader’s citations to Bauer are somewhat misleading. Yes authenteo is a hapax legomenon, but Bauer (second edition, which is what I have on hand) says not just “domineer” but rather gives the gloss as “have authority, domineer.” Regardless, and more importantly, the objection to Wright’s translation is not just this one word but everything else (see Gundry quote above). And Occasional Reader treats us to a thorough trouncing of all the weak arguments about Junia, while giving no solid answers to the strong ones. Yes Junia was female, but context always determines what this sort of construction (“A is well known among B”) means, as adroitly argued by Fr. Hunwicke here , (in the process of reviewing, with some appreciation but mostly with devastating criticism, Epp, who is one of the authors Occasional Reader considers an authority).

I appreciate the various appeals to biography, and when one happened to meet people with each view, and how enjoyable the people, etc. But these are not good criteria for deciding questions of great theological importance. And regardless of one’s position, this is a question of great theological importance—it is either (as I think) a question of faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition, or it is a question of a colossal mistake made by the Church for two thousand years that deprives her of the ordained service of half her members and perpetuates gender discrimination.

Finally, for those thinking through this question for the first time, or rethinking it after some time, a good source is Mascall’s article on women priests . There is much there to meditate on.

[27] Posted by Hitchhiker's Guide on 12-1-2012 at 04:04 AM · [top]

A corrected link to Mascall’s thoughtful and thorough article on women priests:

http://www.trushare.com/Mascall Women Priests.htm

[28] Posted by Hitchhiker's Guide on 12-1-2012 at 04:17 AM · [top]

For some reason the link to the Mascall article is not getting formatted correctly when posted to Stand Firm. It’s easy to find through Google.

[29] Posted by Hitchhiker's Guide on 12-1-2012 at 04:22 AM · [top]

I greatly appreciate Hitchhiker’s Guide’s corrective to Occassional Reader above. Thank you.

My view of WO has “evolved” over the last few years. I used to hold strongly to a limited WO position: Ordination without “headship.”(more about that in a moment)

I tend now to agree with those who argue that the practice should be discontinued (permitting those already ordained to continue in office).  I do agree with Sarah above that a biblical argument (though not one I necessarily agree with anymore) not grounded in feminism or changing cultural norms can be made for setting women apart, ordaining them, for various purposes in the Church. But I don’t think there is any grounds for setting women in positions of “teaching authority” over men.

I think there is a little more room there in the application (not speaking of interpretation here) of 1 Tim 2:11 than is being permitted by some.

Many of the strongest opponents of WO see no problem allowing women to preach to and teach men so long as they hold no pastoral authority over them. So you’ll have very traditional churches inviting women to preach at conferences and teach to mixed congregations.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this because in such cases the female preacher/teacher is not exercising authority, she’s not “the” pastor. Rather she’s speaking by the leave of and under the authority of the male leadership - it is a delegated role. Her words and teaching are, ultimately, the responsibility of the pasto(s) who invited her.

She has her head covered as she prophesies in other words.

It is in this light that I can see a valid biblical argument for the ordination of women to the presbyteriat (but with a very specific role) that doesn’t necessarily or logically lead to women in the episcopate. The lynchpin is headship. Male headship, as a principle, allows for women to teach and preach so long as they do not do so under the direct teaching authority of an ordained man. Within Anglican polity (evangelical) women might be set apart to preach, teach, and lead worship under the direct authority of a male rector. Everything she says and does is his responsibility and he must answer for it.

A woman could never be a rector or a bishop because she would in that position have primary teaching authority over a congregation with indirect male headship in the form of a bishop who does not look over every sermon or oversee her teaching in a classroom or bible study. And, it goes without saying, she could never be a bishop.

In any case, the above is no longer the position I support but I do not see that WO in this context violates scriptural norms…nor do I see, and this is where I disagree with Hitchhiker’s Guide, that it necessitates women bishops. Quite the opposite.

[30] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-1-2012 at 08:36 AM · [top]

Hitchhiker’s Guide,

I was happy to see the link to the Hunwicke article in Touchstone and hoped that it might shed more light. But, alas, I don’t think it quite counts as a refutation of anything. He replies to Epp’s little book, which is merely a popularization of his scholarly argument found in Epp, Eldon Jay. “Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7.” Pages 227–91 in New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis. Edited by Adelbert Denaux. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 161. Leuven: Peeters, 2002. Whether Hunwicke is aware of this more extensive and detailed piece is not clear; he makes no reference to it.  In any case, in as much Hunicke’s rather ad hominem article avoids the questions of Greek grammar—admittedly technical and too heavy going for a Touchstone article— preferring instead analogies to modern English, I’m not sure how it could count as a serious refutation.  I grant, however, that it was an engaging read and can appreciate why some people would find it persuasive.

Hopefully you will have noted, by the way, that I too expressed my disapproval of Wright’s translation of 1 Tim 2:12. The problem, however, is not with his translation of authentein, as though it were some sort of revisionist Trojan horse as Wilson claims. The KJV and ASV already understood that the verb was an unlikely choice for expressing a neutral notion of “having authority.”  As I made clear, that doesn’t settle anything about the issues being debated here. But since the original post was setting Doug Wilson before us as a model of exegetical incisiveness, it seemed important to point that he is not.

As for the alleged disingenuous appeal to BDAG, please note that the 3rd ed. (2000) has removed the neutral definition and gloss (“to have authority”), offering now “to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to.”  My point was simply that Wright was not offering an idiosyncratic translation of the word, again in reference to Wilson’s original point, reinforced by a silly graphic in the original post.

[31] Posted by Occasional Reader on 12-1-2012 at 10:15 AM · [top]

RE: “The third option proposed by “jamesw” is theologically incoherent.”

Not at all—because JamesW didn’t offer anything “theological” but rather offered something *organizational* in his option 3—and it’s the organizational option that in fact ACNA accepted.  Granted, there will be a segment of people who oppose WO who have *theological objections* to the *organizational option*—and those are the people for whom WO is a communion-departing issue.  But then . . . those people aren’t in ACNA anyway, demonstrably, or they couldn’t be in ACNA as it stands right now.

RE: “There are no middle grounds on this that have an ecclesiologically coherent understanding of priests and bishops.”

This is exactly true.  There are no ecclesiologically coherent ways to provide JamesW’s option 3—but there *are* *organizationally coherent* ways and that is demonstrably true as well, ie, ACNA.

RE: “Occasional Reader’s citations to Bauer are somewhat misleading.”

Not really—as Occasional Reader’s citations were solely to point out just how facile and false Doug Wilson’s rhetoric was about whether or not Wright’s assertions were reasonable or not in some very particular and specific points that Wilson attempted to point out.  What OR’s citations did was utterly demolish Wilson’s, again facile and juvenile rhetoric, none of which rhetoric is remotely worthy of Wilson’s intelligence.

RE: “And Occasional Reader treats us to a thorough trouncing of all the weak arguments about Junia . . . “

Which, oddly, were the ones Wilson used and the ones to which OR was responding—[if you want to describe Wilson’s rhetoric as “argument”—I don’t.]

RE: “I appreciate the various appeals to biography, and when one happened to meet people with each view, and how enjoyable the people, etc. But these are not good criteria for deciding questions of great theological importance.”

You’re right.  They aren’t.  But then . . . nobody was attempting to decide questions of great theological importance on those bases.  We [and I] have already made those decisions about these matters, and then determined what we were going to do after having made them with those who disagreed.

[32] Posted by Sarah on 12-1-2012 at 03:40 PM · [top]

The third option proposed by “jamesw” is theologically incoherent.

In a word, yes, that was my point.  In my post 13, I wrote “...my point is that on SOME issues, there are two legitimate arguments that can be made.  Both can’t be right, but there is sufficient “fog of war” that we can’t determine which side is “right” for now.”  Thus if we adopt an “organizational” solution that accommodates both sides, it cannot, by definition, by theologically coherent.  It is a bit like Scrodinger’s Cat.  Either the cat is alive or dead, we aren’t really sure, so we need to find an organizational solution that can cover both possibilities.  But it is, of course, incoherent to declare that the cat is both alive and dead.

In practice it means that women are ordained to the priesthood but not the episcopate, in which case there is a class of people who are ordained as priests who cannot be bishops

No, not so.  It means that there are a class of persons (i.e. women) who can be ordained to the priesthood and episcopate and recognized as such by some, but not by others who do not believe such ordination is possible.  Some think the cat is alive, some think it is dead.  What the organizational solution tries to do is respect the consciences of everyone involved.

And that rapidly leads, as in the C of E, to no one being made a bishop who doesn’t support women’s ordination.

This is a cultural issue that will develop regardless - in the CofE there really are two choices - either WO is forced on everyone right away, or there is an attempt to respect the non-WO faction.  If the liberals manage to gain sufficient sway so that they can squash the non-WO faction, that is a bigger issue then just being the result of a fair and honest attempt to respect both sides.

There are no middle grounds on this that have an ecclesiologically coherent understanding of priests and bishops.

Yes, most certainly correct, but as Sarah points out, it can be organizationally coherent, and I think that that is the best we can hope for now unless we want to go our separate ways.

[33] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 05:03 PM · [top]

LINK CORRECTED

The third option proposed by “jamesw” is theologically incoherent.

In a word, yes, that was my point.  In my post 13, I wrote “...my point is that on SOME issues, there are two legitimate arguments that can be made.  Both can’t be right, but there is sufficient “fog of war” that we can’t determine which side is “right” for now.”  Thus if we adopt an “organizational” solution that accommodates both sides, it cannot, by definition, by theologically coherent.  It is a bit like Schrodinger’s Cat.  Either the cat is alive or dead, we aren’t really sure, so we need to find an organizational solution that can cover both possibilities.  But it is, of course, incoherent to declare that the cat is both alive and dead.

In practice it means that women are ordained to the priesthood but not the episcopate, in which case there is a class of people who are ordained as priests who cannot be bishops

No, not so.  It means that there are a class of persons (i.e. women) who can be ordained to the priesthood and episcopate and recognized as such by some, but not by others who do not believe such ordination is possible.  Some think the cat is alive, some think it is dead.  What the organizational solution tries to do is respect the consciences of everyone involved.

And that rapidly leads, as in the C of E, to no one being made a bishop who doesn’t support women’s ordination.

This is a cultural issue that will develop regardless - in the CofE there really are two choices - either WO is forced on everyone right away, or there is an attempt to respect the non-WO faction.  If the liberals manage to gain sufficient sway so that they can squash the non-WO faction, that is a bigger issue then just being the result of a fair and honest attempt to respect both sides.

There are no middle grounds on this that have an ecclesiologically coherent understanding of priests and bishops.

Yes, most certainly correct, but as Sarah points out, it can be organizationally coherent, and I think that that is the best we can hope for now unless we want to go our separate ways.

[34] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 05:05 PM · [top]

LINK CORRECTED AGAIN

The third option proposed by “jamesw” is theologically incoherent.

In a word, yes, that was my point.  In my post 13, I wrote “...my point is that on SOME issues, there are two legitimate arguments that can be made.  Both can’t be right, but there is sufficient “fog of war” that we can’t determine which side is “right” for now.”  Thus if we adopt an “organizational” solution that accommodates both sides, it cannot, by definition, by theologically coherent.  It is a bit like Schrodinger’s Cat.  Either the cat is alive or dead, we aren’t really sure, so we need to find an organizational solution that can cover both possibilities.  But it is, of course, incoherent to declare that the cat is both alive and dead.

In practice it means that women are ordained to the priesthood but not the episcopate, in which case there is a class of people who are ordained as priests who cannot be bishops

No, not so.  It means that there are a class of persons (i.e. women) who can be ordained to the priesthood and episcopate and recognized as such by some, but not by others who do not believe such ordination is possible.  Some think the cat is alive, some think it is dead.  What the organizational solution tries to do is respect the consciences of everyone involved.

And that rapidly leads, as in the C of E, to no one being made a bishop who doesn’t support women’s ordination.

This is a cultural issue that will develop regardless - in the CofE there really are two choices - either WO is forced on everyone right away, or there is an attempt to respect the non-WO faction.  If the liberals manage to gain sufficient sway so that they can squash the non-WO faction, that is a bigger issue then just being the result of a fair and honest attempt to respect both sides.

There are no middle grounds on this that have an ecclesiologically coherent understanding of priests and bishops.

Yes, most certainly correct, but as Sarah points out, it can be organizationally coherent, and I think that that is the best we can hope for now unless we want to go our separate ways.

[35] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 05:07 PM · [top]

Okay, never mind with the link - just do a Google search for “Schrödinger’s cat” and click on the Wikipedia article.  Or perhaps try a different link.

Fr. Dale:

I am anti-WO and would wail and complain that protections for dissenters would not only make the ordained women second class, it would make the parishioners second class. It would be divisive and create a church within a church.

You are suggesting that the non-WO parishioners would be second class?  (I had initially thought you meant that the pro-WO parishioners would be second class since you would say they didn’t have a “real” priest, but I now think you mean that the non-WO parishioner would be second class because they would be scorned by the liberals).  In which way?  Again, this would be a wider cultural issue within the church.  Is the Diocese of San Joaquin “second class” within ACNA?  Sure, it could be that the culture of the church would look to non-WO jurisdictions/clergy/parishioners as being second-class (e.g. TEC) but that is, again, a wider issue that goes beyond the specific resolution suggested - i.e. such prejudice would reflect the triumph of liberal manifest destiny within the church.

[36] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 05:14 PM · [top]

Not sure why the links aren’t working.  Let me try something else:
Schrodinger’s cat link.  And if this doesn’t work, I confess to being stymied.

[37] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 05:18 PM · [top]

Can I get some feedback here? In the task force report prepared for +Michael Nazir Ali I read the following:

8.1.10 Those who hold that women should be bishops are equally
clear that their position is biblically based because it reflects the way in
which, according to the New Testament, women played an equal role
alongside men in leading the Early Church and teaching about the
fundamental equality of women and men contained in Galatians 3.28.
It also best conforms to the biblical picture of an original equality
between men and women disrupted by sin but restored through the
saving work of Christ. As they see it, the way to apply the biblical
material in today’s context is to open up all ministries equally to
both women and men.

Is Galatians 3:28 the (only) Scriptural support offered by those favoring W/O?
Is Romans 16:7 the (only) Scriptural support for the Tradition of ordaining women?

[38] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-1-2012 at 06:39 PM · [top]

Fr. Dale - From just a quick glance at the report you refer to, 8.1.10 is the “brief summary” of the pro-WO side, just as 8.1.9 is the equivalent summary for the non-WO side.  I don’t think that you can conclude that these brief summaries are the comprehensive arguments for either side.  It seems to me that the full non and pro-WO arguments can be found in sections 2 and 3 of chapter 5.  And note also, that these sections appear to only summarize the more in-depth arguments from submissions made by activists on both sides of the issue.

There are plenty of other arguments both for and against WO that are available from simply internet searches.  I think that the AMIA report in link to earlier does a pretty good job at examining the various Bible passages relating to WO and offering the contrasting perspectives.

[39] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 07:04 PM · [top]

James W.
Thanks, I’ll look into it further.

[40] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-1-2012 at 07:08 PM · [top]

Fr. Dale:  I think that, at this point, serious thinkers (and I exclude most liberals from this group) have examined the Scriptural and theological arguments pro and con WO

We North American Anglicans don’t always realize this, since WO seems to have come to North American Anglicanism without any serious thought at all, but there has been a significant amount of discussion of WO out there in other quarters.  WO was never seriously questioned in Canada and so never became controversial there.  In TEC, WO was pushed through based purely on political maneuvering and without any reflection.  Then, as WO became widely accepted, and as liberals began to wield dominating power nationally, they decided to ram their pro-WO position on to the minority non-WO dioceses.  The TEC liberals have never shown any inclination to do any serious theological or Scriptural reflection on the issue.  In contrast, I think that the non-WO forces did reflect on the issue Biblically and theologically, but also developed the mindset of a persecuted “circle the wagons” minority with an unhealthy dollop of self-righteousness and a disturbing, but small, dose of some anti-women nutjobs. 

Pro-WO conservatives in North American have, somewhat disturbingly, by and large simply gone along with the liberal flow in accepting WO, and have never felt the need to corporately reflect on this issue either Scripturally nor theologically.

This has poisoned the well for this issue, and I put the vast majority of the blame on liberals here, especially on their bullying of non-WO folk.  But both pro and non-WO conservatives bear some of the blame also.  But, it seems to me, that serious thinkers amongst Anglican conservatives have done their own research on this issue, and arrived at their own conclusions.  This has typically been done outside of normal Anglican channels for pro-WO conservatives, and within like-minded echo-chambers for non-WO folks - i.e. this has never been seriously addressed by a broad and comprehensive group of pro and non WO conservative Anglicans.  The AMIA report and perhaps al-Nazir’s report (thanks for letting us now about it) are probably the closest. 

Bottom line is that most conservatives have resolved the issue for themselves and have no interest in re-hashing the arguments again.  This is an issue that has been investigated, addressed and moved on from.  The serious arguments are out there and are either accepted or not accepted by people.  I think that it would be helpful to have a more comprehensive WO report outlining these arguments (i.e., letting each side put forth their best arguments) from the most comprehensive Anglican group we could get it from.  But as for WO in practice, I think that the horses have all escaped the barn and it is too late to close the gates.  We need to agree upon an organizational solution and respect each other as best we can.  Perhaps, in a generation or so, the issue could be revisited.

[41] Posted by jamesw on 12-1-2012 at 07:54 PM · [top]

jamesw,
“But as for WO in practice, I think that the horses have all escaped the barn and it is too late to close the gates” I don’t think the WWAC has jumped the shark just yet on WO.

[42] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-1-2012 at 08:02 PM · [top]

“The horses have all escaped the barn” equals “there are facts on the ground.” I don’t buy it. It’s not fait accompli, whether in the ACNA, the Anglican Communion, or the Church around the world (where the strong majority position is the traditional one). It’s never too late to do the right thing.

And I hasten to add, as someone who does not think the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopacy accords with Scripture or Tradition, that doing the right thing will involve some kind of gracious provision to those who already ordained. (One possibility is along the lines mentioned by Matt, in his honest and unshrinking post above.) That is the place for an “organizational solution,” a temporary accommodation to what has already been done. There should be no “organizational solution” that perpetuates an incoherent theology. And we should certainly never celebrate “living into the tension” on this as if that kind of theological incoherence were especially Anglican or especially godly. It isn’t. (Not that anyone in the comments above suggested it is—just sayin’.)

[43] Posted by Hitchhiker's Guide on 12-2-2012 at 01:38 AM · [top]

In this first post, I want to deal with just one particular point raised by Occasional Reader at #23:

“The question that remains is whether the expression should be rendered “prominent/excellent/outstanding among the apostles” (including A. and J. as apostles) or “by the apostles” (excluding them from “the apostles”). The arguments are somewhat technical, but the often-depended on article by M. Burer and D. Wallace which argues for the latter, “exclusive” view has now been satisfactorily refuted by J. E. Epp, R. Bauckham, and L. Belleville among others….”

No it hasn’t.  Each of the scholars/theologians you refer to assume that en + dative cannot mean “among but not part of”.  And they are wrong.  There are numerous examples of this - The problem is that in their articles they just don’t look far enough.  Consider the following:

(a) In Romans 2:24, Paul quotes Isaiah: “As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”” Here, it is apparent that the name of God is separate from the gentiles, and the greek is “en tois ethnesin”, the same construction as in Romans 16:7

Burer and Wallace provide numerous other instances in the Bible (New Testament and Septuagint) and far from “satisfactorily refuting them”, the persons relied upon by Occasional Reader haven’t got close to refuting them.  The more common reading of the Greek in Romans 16:17 would be “well known among the apostles, but not part of them”.

But I would go further than Burer and Wallace.  My background is classical Greek, and I find the suggestion by Epp and others that en + dative must be inclusive to be, shall we say, most surprising.  Consider the following passages from well-known works:

(b) “εἰ δέ μοι οὐ τίσουσι βοῶν ἐπιεικέ’ ἀμοιβήν, δύσομαι εἰς Ἀίδαο καὶ ἐν νεκύεσσι φαείνω” - “If they do not pay me fit atonement for the kine I will go down to Hades and shine among the dead.” [Homer, Odyssey 12.383]

Very obviously, the immortal Helios is and will remain quite distinct from the dead among whom he threatens to shine!

“οὐ γὰρ αἰχμητὴς πέφυκεν, ἐν γυναιξὶ δ’ ἄλκιμος.” – “No, for he was not born a warrior, though strong among women!” [Euripides, Orestes, 754]

Orestes is not suggesting that Menelaus is a woman. Quite the contrary, He is suggesting that he is strong when compared to women!

In summary, it is more likely that Romans 16:7 means that Andronicus and “Junia” were well known among all the apostles, without being part of them.  It is *possible* that it means they were part of them, but possible isn’t good enough for this particular argument.

[44] Posted by MichaelA on 12-2-2012 at 06:09 AM · [top]

HERE is a convincing argument against ordaining women priests and bishops.

Give an inch to unbelieving irreverent servants of their own thoughts and appetites and they will encroach, steal, defile and destroy a mile.

[45] Posted by St. Nikao on 12-2-2012 at 06:25 AM · [top]

Do not doubt for a split second that KJShori and her company of she-men will not have this kind of blasphemy performed in every TEC and Anglican cathedral in the country and world accompanied by the ‘theological gyrations’ of JS Spong.

[46] Posted by St. Nikao on 12-2-2012 at 06:29 AM · [top]

Further comment on issues raised by Occasional Reader at #23, which go to the issue of what the passage Romans 16:7 means:

“But (1) there is no extant translation derived from the Gk text that understood this person to be male;”

I don’t understand what this means - translation into what?  And what does “derived from the Greek text” mean, in this context?

Among the patristic writers, Chrysostom (C4) thought that Junia was a woman, but Epiphanius (C4) and Origen (C3), both of whom predate Chrysostom, thought that Junia was male.

“(2) every later accented Greek MSS has accented the name as a feminine;”

Yes, this was a practice that started in the 9th century AD - what is it supposed to prove?

“(3) of the 16 extant ancient commentators on this text all but one regarded the person to be female (so J. Fitzmyer), and the lone exception (Epiphanius) is notoriously unreliable for his assumption that Prisca (16:3) was a man!”

This is misleading.  Of the few patristic commentators that we have, the earliest (Epiphanius and Origen) took Junia to be a man.  Epiphanius does so in the context not of arguing Junia’s gender, but in giving further details about his life - that he later became Bishop of Apameia in Syria.  Those impugning Ephiphanius are also suggesting that he wrongly researched the fact of Junia’s later career - on what grounds?

As to Epiphanius accenting Prisca’s name as masculine, it is not entirely clear to me that he did that (I have never been able to get hold of the original source for this allegation to check it) but even if this is correct, so what?  It doesn’t prove Epiphanius is biased or “notoriously unreliable”.  It may well mean that he was mistaken on that particular point, but that is quite different to labelling one of the church fathers “notoriously unreliable” - a rather serious charge.

“(4) On the other hand, famously, Chrysostom, a native Greek speaker, was entirely clear on this point…”

Yes, it is “famously” because there has been an absolute deluge of articles from the pro-WO crowd in recent years highlighting this particular passage . But in the end, all it means is that a church father Chrysostom read the gender-ambiguous name ‘Junia’ as female, whereas two earlier church fathers (Epiphanius and Origen) read it as female. 

That doesn’t take us very far, when the pro-WO crowd are trying to prove that Paul either couldn’t have or shouldn’t have taught “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man…” [1 Tim 2:12]

“(5) The only variation in the MSS tradition is in a few MSS which identify this person as “Julia,” betraying that the scribes understood her to be a woman.”

No, it doesn’t.  Sorry, I know this is a common argument, but as a matter of logic it just doesn’t follow.  It indicates that the scribes misread the name, not that they had some independent knowledge about the gender of the person mentioned with Andronicus. 

“(6) Moreover, whereas the feminine name Junia (a Greek transliteration of a Latin name) is attested to some 250 times, there is no evidence in Greek or Latin of the masculine name Junias….”

Your real point is that so far there has been no evidence (apparently) that the common latin name Junius was translated Junias in Greek.  Plutarch for example in the first sentence of his Life of Brutus appears to treat the name Junius as an irregular noun which presumably declines Iounious, Iounios etc.  But this is all only circumstantial - it does not prove that the name Junian (which may or may not be a form of the gens name Junius, Junia) cannot be masculine, and certainly does not prove ipso facto that Origen and Epiphanius were wrong.

“The claim that it is a contraction for Junianus is a conjecture rooted in a series of entertaining 19th century academic misadventures based on impossible philology”

Its not at all impossible.  It is however, as you rightly point out, conjectural.  But that just drives home the point that there is much that we do not know.  We certainly don’t know that Junia in Romans 6:17 was a female, and the earliest church fathers did not so believe.  That is about where things stand.

[47] Posted by MichaelA on 12-2-2012 at 06:46 AM · [top]

My apologies for the typo in my #47 above.  The relevant passage should read:

“But in the end, all it means is that a church father Chrysostom read the gender-ambiguous name ‘Junia’ as female, whereas two earlier church fathers (Epiphanius and Origen) read it as male.”

[48] Posted by MichaelA on 12-2-2012 at 06:50 AM · [top]

MichaelA,
I always appreciate the depth and quality of your comments. Thanks. I also thank Stand Firm for providing these threads.

[49] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-2-2012 at 08:32 AM · [top]

MichaelA,

Thanks for your #44. I think you make some very fine points and perhaps also offer some opportunities for further clarification:

In this first post, I want to deal with just one particular point raised by Occasional Reader at #23:

Me
“The question that remains is whether the expression should be rendered “prominent/excellent/outstanding among the apostles” (including A. and J. as apostles) or “by the apostles” (excluding them from “the apostles”). The arguments are somewhat technical, but the often-depended on article by M. Burer and D. Wallace which argues for the latter, “exclusive” view has now been satisfactorily refuted by J. E. Epp, R. Bauckham, and L. Belleville among others….”

You

No it hasn’t.  Each of the scholars/theologians you refer to assume that en + dative cannot mean “among but not part of”.  And they are wrong.  There are numerous examples of this - The problem is that in their articles they just don’t look far enough.

I think you are mistaken that the scholars I cite “assume that en + dative cannot mean ‘among but not part of’.” Clearly they assume no such thing. In fact, they cite examples exactly of that type, including those adduced by Burer and Wallace. The point of the argument was rather against the claim made by Burer and Wallace the en + pl. dat. would always be exclusive in force, the genitive being necessary for the inclusive sense. B. and W. succeed in showing that Rom 16:7 could be construed otherwise; they don’t succeed, in my estimation, in demonstrating that the alternative construal can be confidently asserted as though if follows a well attested pattern or “rule,” which was the objective of their article. In that sense I think it would have been better had I not used the word “refuted”; rather their hypothesis has been shown to be unproven.

As for your following examples (Rom 2:24; Hom Od.; Eur.), of course, everyone understands that en + pl. dat. (of persons) can bear that exclusive sense—that happens all the time, as you are right to point out. But I don’t see the relevance of these examples for the question at hand, which is limited to the circumstance of (1) person(s) who in principle could be included in the en + pl. dat. and (2) in which the adjective episemos is used, and, of course, neither of these are relevant. Again if you were correct in saying that, e.g., Epp always assumes that en +pl. dat. must bear an inclusive sense, the examples would have some relevance, but clearly that is not the case.

In summary, it is more likely that Romans 16:7 means that Andronicus and “Junia” were well known among all the apostles, without being part of them.  It is *possible* that it means they were part of them, but possible isn’t good enough for this particular argument.

We almost reach consensus here. I would simply say that it is *possible* that they were not part of them, but that the evidence is weighted on the other side. (And I think scare quotes around Junia is unnecessarily skeptical given the preponderance of evidence.)

You might recall that in my first post I pointed that, the NT knowing of no women presbyteroi or episkopoi, this little datum of Rom 16:7, even if we follow the consensus interpretation of Romans interpreters, would hardly settle the WO question. My post was motivated by the insinuation of Wilson that Wright was guilty of some nefarious revisionism on this matter, which is clearly not the case—thus the over-long rehearsal of the text-critical evidence.

[50] Posted by Occasional Reader on 12-2-2012 at 09:20 AM · [top]

Alas, my HTML skills are lacking. In #50, the blockquote para 1 is MichaelA, paras 2 and 3 are me, para 4 is MichaelA.  Speaking of text criticism . . .

[51] Posted by Occasional Reader on 12-2-2012 at 09:22 AM · [top]

RE: ““The horses have all escaped the barn” equals “there are facts on the ground.”

Not at all.

“The horses have all escaped the barn” equals “informed, thoughtful, convinced, evangelical persons, have made up their minds and in the vast vast vast vast vast majority, are not going to change their minds.”

That’s what “the horses have all escaped the barn” means. 

But by all means, continue on with your flailings at the air, along with the various groups of people explaining why chemical contraception is intrinsically immoral, women wearing pants is unBiblical, and women should wear headcoverings at church.

[Please note that my only point of comparison is the complete inability that each of these groups will experience in convincing many beyond their group of the truth of their assertions—not the worth or validity of the assertions.]

Back to the organizational challenges . . . and as I’ve said now for years and years on this blog—you have only a few groups of otherwise-traditional Anglicans to deal with, in regards to WO: 1) anti-WOers for whom pro-WO actions are a communion-departing issue [none of which are in ACNA], 2) anti-WOers for whom pro-WO actions are not a communion-departing issue, 3) pro-WOers for whom anti-WO actions are a communion-departing issue, and 4) pro-WOers for whom anti-WO actions are not a communion-departing issue.

#1 and #4 are vanishingly small groups.  The question for ACNA—since its leaders currently seem to be made up of #2 and #3—is what is the organizational way of keeping together #2 and #3—and it’s not gonna be “let’s not allow WO” because then you lose #3, not only in the present, but all who are in the future [it’s called opportunity cost in business terms]. 

Those of you who think that you won’t lose #3 in vast vast vast majority, I can only think haven’t hung out with those people in large groups or for very long.  And they won’t show up for the dialogues and special theological conferences [in large large preponderance] either [you know, kind of like how most of us won’t show up for the theological indaba shows put on by revisionist bishops who want to dialogue us all towards allowing same-sex blessings]—they’ll just quietly leave for greener spaces and fairer shores [to their minds, anyway].

Perhaps the #1 and #4 groups of Anglicans could get together but . . . my thesis is that they already have, most particularly in the Continuing Anglican and REC congregations, and we can go to any number of such congregations and find out just how many those are.

A few of the comments on this thread remind me of the famous Pauline Kael quote, which went something like “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”

[52] Posted by Sarah on 12-2-2012 at 09:39 AM · [top]

1. Occasional Reader wrote:

“The point of the argument was rather against the claim made by Burer and Wallace the en + pl. dat. would always be exclusive in force… [etc]”

You have it back the front.  Burer and Wallace were not the ones who said that the construction “always” went their way.  It was the other side that did this, and it was this sort of dogmatic assertion about which Burer and Wallace complained! From page 84 of their article:

“The thesis of this article is that the expression ejpivshmoi ejn toi`~ ajpostovloi~ is more naturally taken with an exclusive force rather than an inclusive one.
The lexical and syntactical evidence seem to support this hypothesis.”

“More naturally”, not “always”.  And, the evidence “seems to support this”. 

The primary motive for Wallace and Burer’s article was their concern at the number of scholars and theologians who were confidently asserting that it was “almost certain” or “virtually certain” that Romans 16:7 used ‘among the apostles’ in an inclusive sense.  See citations in their article at page 79.

That is hardly surprising - for the proponents of Womens Ordination, it is necessary to show that Junia was (or most likely was) an apostle.  Showing that she *might* have been an apostle was nothing new, and did not assist their case.

2. Occasional Reader also wrote:

“But I don’t see the relevance of these examples for the question at hand, which is limited to the circumstance of (1) person(s) who in principle could be included in the en + pl. dat. and (2) in which the adjective episemos is used, and, of course, neither of these are relevant.”

I find your argument difficult to follow.  Are you suggesting that there is a separate grammatical rule for the adjective ‘episemos’, when it is used with en + dative, which doesn’t apply to other words?  That would seem to be the only basis on which your argument has relevance, but if that is the case, I would really like to see your evidence that such a separate rule for ‘episemos’ exists.

3. Occasional Reader also wrote:

“I would simply say that it is *possible* that they were not part of them, but that the evidence is weighted on the other side.”

Well, I would like to know what that evidence is.  The people you quoted certainly don’t supply it.  Their arguments are unconvincing and generally don’t come to terms with the evidence that is there, even when they confront it.

[53] Posted by MichaelA on 12-2-2012 at 10:04 AM · [top]

Occasional Reader wrote:

“The point of the argument was rather against the claim made by Burer and Wallace the en + pl. dat. would always be exclusive in force… [etc]”

You have it back the front.  Burer and Wallace were not the ones who said that the construction “always” went their way.  It was the other side that did this, and it was this sort of dogmatic assertion about which Burer and Wallace complained! From page 84 of their article:

“The thesis of this article is that the expression ejpivshmoi ejn toi`~ ajpostovloi~ is more naturally taken with an exclusive force rather than an inclusive one.
The lexical and syntactical evidence seem to support this hypothesis.”

“More naturally”, not “always”.  And, the evidence “seems to support this”. 

The primary motive for Wallace and Burer’s article was their concern at the number of scholars and theologians who were confidently asserting that it was “almost certain” or “virtually certain” that Romans 16:7 used ‘among the apostles’ in an inclusive sense.  See citations in their article at page 79.

That is hardly surprising - for the proponents of Womens Ordination, it is necessary to show that Junia was (or most likely was) an apostle.  Showing that she *might* have been an apostle was nothing new, and did not assist their case.


I except your correction. Thank you. My memory was that they were working toward establishing a “rule” of sorts that the exclusive = episemos + en +  dat. and the inclusive is “more naturally” expressed with a genitive. They speak in terms of “definite patterns” in this regard, and that engendered my “always,” but I thank you for the correction. 

As for the last para, of course, the motives arguably run both ways.

2. Occasional Reader also wrote:

“But I don’t see the relevance of these examples for the question at hand, which is limited to the circumstance of (1) person(s) who in principle could be included in the en + pl. dat. and (2) in which the adjective episemos is used, and, of course, neither of these are relevant.”

I find your argument difficult to follow.  Are you suggesting that there is a separate grammatical rule for the adjective ‘episemos’, when it is used with en + dative, which doesn’t apply to other words?  That would seem to be the only basis on which your argument has relevance, but if that is the case, I would really like to see your evidence that such a separate rule for ‘episemos’ exists.

No, no. I’m not suggesting that a separate rule exists for ‘episemos’ but, as you know, that en + dat pl is such a ubiquitous and versatile phrase that it will not establish anything in itself without a more specifically bounded and analogous data set. The real issue here is the (predicate nominative) adjective episemoi qualified by en tois apostolois, so a useful data set would consider that construction independent of lexis, and then again the use of episemos in general and in its various analogous uses. We just can’t get anything useful from en + pl. dat. (much less just “en + dative”!) without narrowing the sampling to analogous instances. I’m sure with your training that is obvious to you and that upon reflection you see that the examples you offered earlier are not even a little analogous to the Rom 16:7 construction.

3. Occasional Reader also wrote:

“I would simply say that it is *possible* that they were not part of them, but that the evidence is weighted on the other side.”

Well, I would like to know what that evidence is.  The people you quoted certainly don’t supply it.  Their arguments are unconvincing and generally don’t come to terms with the evidence that is there, even when they confront it.

Well . . . of course it will not satisfy to say this but: Chrysostom uses the same language to affirm (a) that Junia is a woman, (b) that she is an apostle (c) that she is “even remarkable among them” (καὶ ἐν τουτοῖς ἐπισήμους)—which, in context, is clearly inclusive.  It is apparently mildly surprising to him, but perfectly non-controversial, and has no evident bearing on what he thinks about the ordination of women in his own day.

But if I am following you, you think that Junias was (1) a male (therefore some kind of close friend or partner of Andronicus such that they should be listed together) and (2) with Andronicus highly regarded by persons known as “the apostles” but not a member of that group.  Although on the identity of that group, I don’t believe you have stated your opinion explicitly, presumably, since the force of your argument is that Junia(s) is not to be identified with that group, you, as I, regard it (3) as a strong or defined reference to “the apostles” (a defined body of early Christian leaders rather than merely a group who was sent “to get coffee” a la Wilson). 

It seems to me that the only coherence to this unlikely picture (I am aware of no one who holds all three conclusions) is that these stand over against any argument in favor of women’s ordination that might be derived from this text.  Given the incoherence of the cumulative argument, it is hard not to believe that your opposition to women’s ordination is driving the analysis rather than philology or text-criticism. If, as I would concur, some have made too much of “Junia the woman apostle” in order to make their case for the ordination of women, why would you repeat the opposite version of the same error?

Remember that Wilson started this by implying that Wright was cooking the books with authentein and Junia. I simply argued that it wasn’t the case and that Wilson’s “arguments” were terribly weak and uniformed. That’s not an argument for women’s ordination, and it certainly isn’t a carte blanche endorsement Wright’s exegesis or synthesis.  I was only insisting that we are obliged to play fair with evidence, which Wilson’s post did not do, though being commended to readers of SF as worthy exegesis and incisive theological reasoning. It isn’t.

[54] Posted by Occasional Reader on 12-2-2012 at 09:53 PM · [top]

Should be that “I *accept* your correction.”

[55] Posted by Occasional Reader on 12-2-2012 at 09:54 PM · [top]

“From my perspective, I think that what is needed would be:
1) Permit WO in all orders.
2) Have an iron-clad right of refusal for either parishes or clergy to serve under an ordained woman.
3) Ensure that every person ordained has at least one male doing the ordaining.
4) If there is any metropolitan or archbishop, ensure that that person is a man.”

I do not see this being sustained over time from an organizational or political perspective.

In the absence of a theologically coherant WO policy,  I believe the political dynamics will move toward reception of female priests in all parishes. And eventually, female Bishops.

JamesW, I appreciate your perspective that anything short of permitting WO in the Priesthood would be considered capitulation on the part of those in favor of WO. I guess the horses are too far out of the barn to pull them back, then.

[56] Posted by Going Home on 12-3-2012 at 03:01 AM · [top]

Let’s consider the implications IF W/O is a departure from Scripture and Tradition. What does this say about Apostolic succession? Are ordinations and consecrations legitimate?

[57] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-3-2012 at 07:51 AM · [top]

Thanks to Occassional Reader and MichaelA and Hitchhiker’s Guide for some great exchanges. Very helpful.

[58] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-3-2012 at 07:53 AM · [top]

57- depends who you are.  There are reasons why Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin, or for that matter, the Anglican continuum, are no longer in TEC, and validity of ordinations is certainly one of those reasons.

Some Evangelical friends of mine couldn’t care less who did the ordaining, as long as the resulting priest (err, presbyter, errr…. pastor) or bishop sent to them is male.

There are a variety of arguments in between.  Someone I know put forward a long argument in favor of +Dan Martins being an Anglo Catholic bishop, even though he publicly supported WO, and was consecrated by KJS, on the grounds that he had not ordained any women YET (although that was shortly after his consecration, I can’t say one way or the other at this point), and there were at least 3 men who laid hands on him in addition to KJS.  Personally, I think my poor friend was really stretching, but on the other hand, +Dan Martins is about as good a selection for bishop as you are going to find in modern TEC.  And since he is obviously already on the 815 “naughty list,” his being a bishop or no may be tested depending on where, exactly, he takes up orders if and when KJS deposes him.  Would he be considered a successor to the Apostles in, say, Quincy or a continuum diocese, given his orders derive through KJS, or would they overlook that in favor of +Beckwith and the other retired bishops? I imagine there would be some arguments from both perspectives.
But, I come from the old school, where I am not sure you can claim universally valid orders after Pike- bishops who disavowed the principals of the faith- Pike, Spong, KJS, 70% of the current bishops of TEC, have, indeed, abandoned the communion of THE CHURCH (as opposed to this church) and have no business ordaining, consecrating, preaching, or for that matter, taking Holy Communion.  Yes, I do accept that orders can flow through a line with bad bishops in it (ie- I am specifically not preaching the Donatist argument)- it being pretty clear that by the time of Chrysostom, there were enough bad bishops to pave a highway, but that assumes repentance of the next generation, and we have not seen that.  Most bishops in TEC have stepped away from the Church Universal- so they have no more business ordaining Anglican clergy than an Imam or the Dalia Lama.
But the core argument comes down to: can a woman be a priest or bishop at all?  I know how I was raised and have not seen a convincing argument in favor, that outweighs even the resultant division in the Church, much less the theological implications.

[59] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-3-2012 at 08:49 AM · [top]

TJ,
Could your understanding help explain why there don’t seem to be bishops willing to oppose KJS in TEC? Maybe they don’t have the right stuff.

[60] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-3-2012 at 11:20 AM · [top]

Fr. Dale Re: in #11 my comment there that you questioned in #12 was nothing but pure opinion, bu tnot baseless I hope, being based on the practical observation that many of the larger parishes and groups in ACNA are pro-WO.  The structure also presupposes there will be groupings that favor and those that don’t.  I think the out come will be: all may; some won’t; and no one has to. That is all.  I just cannot see it going any other way.
eds

[61] Posted by aacswfl1 on 12-3-2012 at 11:47 AM · [top]

Thank you Sarah (post #52).  You have captured my point.  Much of what I see here is a lot of “I think the other side should agree with me” or “everything would be good if only the other side would agree with me” but that isn’t going to happen.  The other side just doesn’t agree with you in this area.  Wishing it were so, won’t make it so.  Arguing really hard amongst yourselves won’t make it so (not meant to be any sort of suggestion that the excellent back-and-forth in this thread shouldn’t take place) because, as Sarah says, pro-WO people won’t attend or take part.

Fr. Dale, you ask

Let’s consider the implications IF W/O is a departure from Scripture and Tradition. What does this say about Apostolic succession? Are ordinations and consecrations legitimate?

This is really an insider question for those who are non-WO.  Obviously, pro-WO folks have already answered the underlying question for themselves.  But the questions you raise are good ones in that they are necessary to determining whether you are an 1) anti-WOer for whom pro-WO actions are a communion-departing issue or an 2) anti-WOer for whom pro-WO actions are not a communion-departing issue (with the appropriate safeguards).

I would amend something that Sarah wrote, with regard to her typology of the pro-WO side.  She set out the typology as follows:

3) pro-WOers for whom anti-WO actions are a communion-departing issue, and 4) pro-WOers for whom anti-WO actions are not a communion-departing issue.

I would suggest that for the pro-WO side, the better language (for conservative pro-WO persons) would be church-departing issue, rather than communion-departing issue.  A communion-departing issue suggests that a particular behavior is thought to be so outside the bounds of acceptable Christian behavior that you cannot in good conscience remain a part of that church.  That is not really how pro-WO conservatives would view non-WO behavior (though probably true for liberals).  A church-departing issues suggests that the particular behavior is not necessarily outside the bounds of Christian behavior but sufficiently irritating or silly so as to lead someone to seek another church.  This I think is much more accurate in how pro-WO conservatives would view non-WO behavior.

But otherwise I think that Sarah is right.  There would be nothing like rigidly enforcing a non-WO policy to identify the ACNA as “a small, bitter, shrinking group of angry men and old ladies that will follow the same path as the 1970s Continuum” to pro-WO persons (I use scare quotes because I am not suggesting that that is what a non-WO ACNA would be, but rather what it would perceived to be by the vast majority of Sarah’s group 3.  If you doubt Sarah on this, then take a look towards the Presbyterian church, and ask why most of the departing congregations are going to the newer pro-WO EPC instead of the older, and much longer established non-WO PCA.  If ACNA went non-WO, my expectation would be that another pro-WO Anglican jurisdiction would eventually arise that would take a lot of the ACNA’s members and soon dwarf the non-WO ACNA.

[62] Posted by jamesw on 12-3-2012 at 12:06 PM · [top]

Fr. Dale:

Could your understanding help explain why there don’t seem to be bishops willing to oppose KJS in TEC? Maybe they don’t have the right stuff.

I don’t think that there is any “maybe” about it!  wink

Seriously, it seems to me that in TEC episcopal elections you have a number of things going on.  First, the liberals are always drawn to positions of power like flies to you-know-what.  And so, in most (now virtually all) TEC dioceses, liberals will dominate the selection process.  Second, bishop candidates are likely to be those who have been good company men or women.  We all know why good company men and women are also known as “yes-men”.  Third, bishop candidates tend to be those who are good glad-handers and who are only too happy and willing to employ another diocesan officer to be the “enforcer.”

Thus, most TEC bishops are liberal company men or women who intensely dislike conflict.

And one last note - it seems that in TEC over the last 6 years, any bishop who hasn’t been a liberal company man (or woman) has been either deposed or threatened with discipline.

Any wonder why they all play ostrich when KJS does what she does? 

A better question is “why would we expect such people to act completely out of their character and stand up to her?”

[63] Posted by jamesw on 12-3-2012 at 12:18 PM · [top]

Occasional reader wrote at #54:

“…We just can’t get anything useful from en + pl. dat. (much less just “en + dative”!) without narrowing the sampling to analogous instances. I’m sure with your training that is obvious to you and that upon reflection you see that the examples you offered earlier are not even a little analogous to the Rom 16:7 construction.”

Firstly, I don’t follow your point about “en + pl dat” – surely every citation on this thread has involved a plural dative?

Secondly, it is not at all obvious to me why there is no analogy between the examples I offered and Romans 16:7.  Can you be more specific about why you think there is some relevant point of distinction?

“It is apparently mildly surprising to [Chrysostom], but perfectly non-controversial, and has no evident bearing on what he thinks about the ordination of women in his own day.”

True, no doubt because Chrysostom had in mind the multiple senses in which “apostle” could be used (see below).  Depending on what Paul meant, Romans 16:7 may have no relevance on the issue of women exercising authority in the Church.

“But if I am following you, you think that Junias was (1) a male…”

Not quite.  I just don’t think the evidence that Junia/Jounian was female is nearly as overwhelming as is often thought.  I would have thought the evidence (all secondary) is equally compelling either way.  But in any case, the evidence is frequently overstated by proponents of women bishops on blogs etc, so it doesn’t hurt to set the record straight.

“Although on the identity of that group, I don’t believe you have stated your opinion explicitly…”

Fair enough, I had better explain my position.  The word “apostle” means a messenger or ambassador, one who is sent (apostello = I send).  It is a common word in Greek literature, as are the words for deacon, priest and bishop – they are respectively the common words for servant, old person and overseer/foreman.  In the case of all of these words, we determine their meaning in scripture by the context in which they appear, not by an inherent meaning that they bore in the Greek language.

There are some instances in scripture where the word apostle clearly does not mean a person with inherent authority over the church as a whole.  As these instances are usually not translated as ‘apostle’ in the English versions, many people miss them.  For example:  “As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ.” [1 Corinthians 8:23].  The word ‘representative’ is the Greek word apostle.  In some versions it is translated ‘messenger’ or ‘ambassador’.

On the other hand, there are also instances where the word apostle is used for a special class of people, those who are commissioned directly by God to speak his word to the church.  Thus the Church is: “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” [Ephesians 2:20].  So also, Paul writes: “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets”. [Ephesians 3:4-5].  And Peter writes “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” [2 Peter 3:2]. 

These were an exceptional group with special qualifications, including that they must have been an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ, and have been commissioned directly by God [Acts 1:21-26; Galatians 1:1]

Many people could be ‘apostles’ in the general sense, but only a few were Christ’s apostles, those empowered to declare the word of God in His name to the church.  These seem to have been restricted to the Twelve, St Paul, and the believing brothers of the Lord.

“you, as I, regard it (3) as a strong or defined reference to “the apostles”.”

I think that is *probably* the case, but St Paul doesn’t make it clear.  He may for instance mean that Andronicus and Junia are well known among the apostles of the churches, i.e. messengers sent by churches between each other.  That is also possible, as Paul had high regard for that group (see below).

“(a defined body of early Christian leaders rather than merely a group who was sent “to get coffee” a la Wilson)”

I agree that Wilson is quite wrong here.  An apostle of a church had an important and extremely trustworthy function, e.g. to carry messages or to convey money such as a collection for the poor.  Such an apostle (‘representative’ or ‘messenger’) could do tremendous damage if they were untrustworthy – it would take months to detect them if they gave a false message or absconded with money.  So yes, they had a very important role, but they are distinct from the Apostles of Jesus Christ, those authorised by God to declare the word of God to the whole Church.

“It seems to me that the only coherence to this unlikely picture (I am aware of no one who holds all three conclusions)…”

Whatever the situation may be with Doug Wilson, I think the theological position I have outlined above is coherent, and it gives a strong basis to disagree with +Wright’s arguments.

[64] Posted by MichaelA on 12-3-2012 at 06:02 PM · [top]

My apologies, the reference to 1 Corinthians 8:23 in #64 above should read 2 Corinthians 8:23.

[65] Posted by MichaelA on 12-3-2012 at 06:04 PM · [top]

“TJ,
Could your understanding help explain why there don’t seem to be bishops willing to oppose KJS in TEC? Maybe they don’t have the right stuff. “

Fr. Dale,
If you go back only 5 years, there were 12 bishops willing to oppose KJS- +Duncan, +Iker, +Ackerman, Schofield, and 8 retired or assisting or suffragan bishops, who all share something in common…..

[66] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-3-2012 at 07:38 PM · [top]

About the oft-quoted 1 Timothy 2 passage, Richard Longenecker, my New Testament professor at Wycliffe, wrote, “For though some have elevated ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man’ (v 12) to the status of a gospel principle, it undoubtedly should be taken more contextually and circumstantially.” (New Testament Social Ethics for Today, page 86-87) He then footnotes the late Catherine C. Kroeger’s article ‘Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek Verb’ from The Reformed Journal of March 1979.  It’s a fascinating article and can be found online at http://www.godswordtowomen.org/kroeger_ancient_heresies.htm

[67] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-3-2012 at 08:16 PM · [top]

Ross at #67, I would be very wary of using Catherine Kroeger’s work.  Her work on this point has been extensively criticised, even by scholars who agree with her final position.  See http://christianstudies.wordpress.com/tag/authenteo/ for a good summary.

[68] Posted by MichaelA on 12-3-2012 at 09:31 PM · [top]

Don’t worry MichaelA.  I was maybe being a little mischievous by pointing to Kroeger’s work.  Still, while she may have missed the mark on the meaning of authentein, her take on the importance of the Diana cult in Ephesus has some merit which supports Dick Longenecker’s assertion that the 1 Timothy passage ‘should be taken more contextually and circumstantially.’  I think N.T. Wright would agree based on what he says here at http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

[69] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-3-2012 at 10:35 PM · [top]

Ross at #69.  “her take on the importance of the Diana cult in Ephesus has some merit “

Her work on this too has been severely criticised.

http://christianstudies.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/first-century-ephesus-the-historical-background-to-pauls-words-to-timothy/

“Scholarly reception of the Kroegers’ reconstruction has been overwhelmingly negative. Their proposal has been rejected by both complementarian and egalitarian scholars.”

[70] Posted by Steven Pascoe on 12-4-2012 at 03:32 AM · [top]

Overwhelmingly negative?  I think not.  Tom Wright certainly has no qualms about making reference to it.  As he says in the paper for which I provided the link (which is almost word for word what he says in ‘Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters’ page 25), “There are some signs in the letter that it was originally sent to Timothy while he was in Ephesus. And one of the main things we know about religion in Ephesus is that the main religion – the biggest Temple, the most famous shrine – was a female-only cult. The Temple of Artemis (that’s her Greek name; the Romans called her Diana) was a massive structure which dominated the area; and, as befitted worshippers of a female deity, the priests were all women. They ruled the show and kept the men in their place.

“Now if you were writing a letter to someone in a small, new religious movement with a base in Ephesus, and wanted to say that because of the gospel of Jesus the old ways of organising male and female roles had to be rethought from top to bottom, with one feature of that being that the women were to be encouraged to study and learn and take a leadership role, you might well want to avoid giving the wrong impression. Was the apostle saying, people might wonder, that women should be trained up so that Christianity would gradually become a cult like that of Artemis, where women did the leading and kept the men in line? That, it seems to me, is what verse 12 is denying. The word I’ve translated ‘try to dictate to them’ is unusual, but seems to have the overtones of ‘being bossy’ or ‘seizing control’. Paul is saying, like Jesus in Luke 10, that women must have the space and leisure to study and learn in their own way, not in order that they may muscle in and take over the leadership as in the Artemis-cult, but so that men and women alike can develop whatever gifts of learning, teaching and leadership God is giving them.”

[71] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-4-2012 at 09:57 AM · [top]

“Overwhelmingly negative?  I think not.  Tom Wright certainly has no qualms about making reference to it.”

Ross, that doesn’t necessarily assist +Wright’s argument, when most other scholars disagree with the Kroegers on this point.

“The word I’ve translated ‘try to dictate to them’ is unusual, but seems to have the overtones of ‘being bossy’ or ‘seizing control’.”

Assunming that is the case (many things in translation are a matter of degree, after all) does it make any difference to our interpretation or application of the passage?

[72] Posted by MichaelA on 12-4-2012 at 05:16 PM · [top]

#71 “Overwhelmingly negative? I think not. Tom Wright certainly has no qualms about making reference to it.”

The problem is Tom Wright freely admits as he does at the beginning in the link you provided “Today’s topic has not been an area of primary research for me and many of you will know the secondary literature much better than I do.” yet he is happy to make categorical statements without quoting his sources about the Artemis cult which do not accord with the best scholarly work in this area.  In particular the following statements are just plain wrong:

- “And one of the main things we know about religion in Ephesus is that the main religion – the biggest Temple, the most famous shrine – was a female-only cult.”

- “…the priests were all women. They ruled the show and kept the men in their place.”

From section 3 - Male priests in the Roman period - in this link:

theol.eldoc.ub.rug.nl/FILES/root/2008/Priestly/Bremmer-Priests.pdf

“The disappearance of the Megabyxos did not mean that Artemis’ sanctuary no longer had male priests. Although these latter are neglected in recent studies of the Artemis priesthood, they are attested in epigraphy and literature.
[….]
As we have much more epigraphical information about Artemis’ priestesses than the priests, it seems likely that in the course of time most male aristocrats shifted their interests to the imperial priesthoods, even though Artemis’ priesthood must have long remained prestigious due to its venerable age and wealth.”

It is also worth considering the role of the essênes and Kouretes ( sections 4 and 5) who were also male, (with the latter having a supervisory role) which contradict the idea that religion at Ephesus was “ a female only cult”.

In this article Baugh examines the sort of women who became priestesses of the cult

http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_ephesus_baugh.html

Having reviewed the evidence that they were teenage daughters of respectable leading families serving for a one year term as a priestess, he concludes “Finally, we looked at some of the positive evidence from Ephesus to show that the priestesses of Artemis - wrongly thought by many today to be a fertility or mother goddess - were no more than daughters of noble families, whose terms of office involved them in the honorary public roles and the financial obligations which typified priestly offices in Greek state cults. A priestess of Artemis compares better with a Rose Bowl queen or with Miss Teen America than with a cult prostitute.”

Therefore it is difficult to see where this idea of “women ruling the show”  and “where women did the leading and kept the men in line” comes from.  It is a modern invention which ignores or distorts the ancient sources. One is left with the uncomfortable feeling that this is deliberate in order to arrive a suitable context by which the meaning of the bible passage can be ignored.

[73] Posted by Steven Pascoe on 12-4-2012 at 07:58 PM · [top]

Apart from the specific meaning of authentein, there is an additional problem involved in attempts to limit Paul’s exhortation to a specific cultural context, and that is the kind of theological argumentation he brings to bear. In the case of 1 Timothy 2:12-15, he goes back to the foundational story in Genesis 2-3. From this account he makes two normative statements, the first about male priority – Adam was formed first – and the second about women’s – particularly Christian wives’ – special work of childbearing.

Would there not be a question concerning Paul’s integrity if he simply slaps on proof-texts to shut women up in a particular setting? And is there anything from Paul’s life and letters to indicate that he would settle for anything less than theological honesty in his argumentation? And one final “canonical” question: was Paul not aware that he was addressing the church in a particular place and also the wider catholic church?

I have the same concern regarding the interpretation of two other passages – 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 and Ephesians 5:21-36 where Paul justifies male and female roles from the Scriptures and foundational Christian didache.

[74] Posted by Stephen Noll on 12-5-2012 at 01:27 AM · [top]

Stephen, in answer to your canonical question, I believe it would be sheer speculation on our part to think that Paul thought he was addressing the wider catholic church or even any particular church for that matter.  I seriously doubt if he was aware of anything more than the fact that he was writing to Timothy, his ‘loyal child in the faith’.  I don’t believe he knew that he was writing scripture. 

But getting back to the issue at hand, I believe I hear what you’re saying about Paul’s going back to the foundational story in Genesis 2-3.  But I don’t see how that precludes using that story to address a specific cultural situation.  Tom Wright shows how this can be done in both his paper and his commentary - in convincing fashion in my humble opinion.

The 1 Corinthians 11 passage actually creates the greater conundrum for me.  I think that what Tom Wright says in his paper is fine as far as it goes but he doesn’t really address what for me causes grave concern, that being how Paul uses the ‘foundational story’ in his attempt to make the point that he is trying to make.  In verse 7 Paul says, “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory (NRSV has reflection) of God, but woman is the glory (or reflection) of man.”  This seems to be saying that it is man who is in the image and glory of God, and not woman who is the glory (or reflection) of man.  This seems to suggest that at best woman is only in the image of God in an indirect sense through man.  But doesn’t the foundational story in Genesis 1:27 say that God created humankind in his own image, ‘male and female he created them’? As Richard Hays writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “Here, regrettably, Paul gets himself into a theological quagmire.”  People have been trying for nearly two millennia to extricate him to no one’s complete satisfaction as far as I can tell.  I certainly make no claims to having a satisfactory solution.

[75] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-5-2012 at 10:35 PM · [top]

“I seriously doubt if he was aware of anything more than the fact that he was writing to Timothy, his ‘loyal child in the faith’.  I don’t believe he knew that he was writing scripture.”

Ross, I am curious as to your basis for this assertion?  At many points in his letters, Paul indicates his awareness that his letters carry authority for all the churches.  For example, he writes to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” [2 Tim 2:2].  He also writes: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” [2 Thess 2:15]

And St Peter accounted all of Paul’s letters as scripture:

” Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.  He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:15-16]

So how do you, now, 2,000 years later, decide that Paul has no concept that he is writing something authoritative?

“As Richard Hays writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “Here, regrettably, Paul gets himself into a theological quagmire.” People have been trying for nearly two millennia to extricate him to no one’s complete satisfaction as far as I can tell. I certainly make no claims to having a satisfactory solution.”

Richard Hays arrogantly assume that a solution is needed.  Perhaps he needs to consider another possibility, however unpalatable – that there is in fact no “theological quagmire”, but rather a failure on his part to comprehend the profundity of Paul’s teaching.

[76] Posted by MichaelA on 12-6-2012 at 12:55 AM · [top]

Two things, MichaelA:

First of all, I didn’t say that Paul had no concept that he was writing something authoritative.  He definitely taught, spoke and wrote letters with apostolic authority.  And for all we know Timothy may even have read aloud the letters Paul wrote to him for others to hear as part of the way he could fulfill Paul’s instructions to him.  Furthermore, we know Paul’s letters were circulated.  In one place at the end of his Letter to the Colossians he even instructs the believers there to pass their letter on to the church in Laodicea and that they in turn should read his letter to the Laodiceans.  (Some have suggested that Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is a form of circular letter and may even be what Paul was referring to in Colossians, that is, the ‘lost’ Letter to the Laodiceans.)  But that doesn’t mean that Paul thought he was writing scripture.  Scripture for him was what we call the Old Testament.  That, by the way, is not an original assertion on my part by any means.  Yes, by the time 2 Peter was written Paul’s letters seem to be included with ‘the other scriptures’ - at least they are by some it appears anyway.  But that only says what others were saying about Paul’s letters, not what Paul believed himself.

Secondly, arrogant isn’t the first word I would use to describe the work of Richard Hays.  But whether or not Hays has failed to comprehend the profundity of Paul’s teaching or it’s more the case where Paul has failed in his capacity as a teacher to make himself abundantly clear through his ‘labored and convoluted’ (cf Hays) line of argument is perhaps a discussion for another day on another thread.

[77] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-6-2012 at 10:23 AM · [top]

Ross

“I don’t believe he knew that he was writing scripture.”

You accept that Paul “spoke and wrote letters with apostolic authority”  “yet Scripture for him was what we call the Old Testament. That, by the way, is not an original assertion on my part by any means.”

What is the evidence for that?

Surely when Paul writes “the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” 1 Cor. 14:37 he is conscious that God is speaking through what he is writing? (and in other places he qualifies what he writes as “I, not the Lord” 1 Cor 7: 12 to indicate a personal judgement albeit “as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy” 1 Cor 7:25) Also if Paul considered he spoke the word of God when he was with the Thessalonians I Thess 2:13 why would he consider his letters to be any less?

Stephen Noll’s point that Paul was also concerned with the wider catholic church is borne out by 1 Cor 11:16 where he backs up the teaching by reference to the practice in other churches. It is difficult to imagine that Paul, concerned as he is with encouraging good teaching and sound doctrine in the letter, would be promoting a different understanding particular only to Timothy at Ephesus.

  But doesn’t the foundational story in Genesis 1:27 say that God created humankind in his own image, ‘male and female he created them’? As Richard Hays writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, “Here, regrettably, Paul gets himself into a theological quagmire.” 

As Paul is merely proving his point by reference to the creation account any ‘theological quagmire’ is not Paul’s but goes back to the first couple of chapters of Genesis.  For God also created man first then woman from man, which is the bit you missed out. So Paul is extremely clear “ For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.”  (1 Cor 11:8 and Genesis 2:18-25).  The struggle is not so much the understanding as the application.

[78] Posted by Steven Pascoe on 12-6-2012 at 04:22 PM · [top]

Ross Gill wrote:

“He definitely taught, spoke and wrote letters with apostolic authority.”

That is the definition of scripture.

Scripture derives its authority from the fact that it was written or authorised by apostles (in the New Testament) or by prophets (in the Old Testament). 

In turn the apostles knew who they were (and who each other were) and understood that supreme authority in the Church had been conferred on them.  For clarity, I will reiterate my points from above:

*The Church is: “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” [Ephesians 2:20]. 

*God’s plan was revealed to mankind only though his apostles: “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets”. [Ephesians 3:4-5]. 

*Christ’s commands were given to the church through the prophets in the Old Testament and through the apostles in the New Testament: “I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.” [2 Peter 3:2]. 

The apostles were an exceptional group with special qualifications, including that they must have been an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ, and had to be commissioned directly by God himself [Acts 1:21-26; Galatians 1:1]

Hence when Paul writes with the authority of an apostle, he writes scripture, and he knows he is doing it.

You wrote:

“Scripture for him was what we call the Old Testament.  That, by the way, is not an original assertion on my part by any means.”

Perhaps not, but it is an entirely unsupported assertion!

“Yes, by the time 2 Peter was written Paul’s letters seem to be included with ‘the other scriptures’ - at least they are by some it appears anyway.  But that only says what others were saying about Paul’s letters, not what Paul believed himself.”

“they are by some”?  By an apostle.  And since supreme power in the church had been conferred on the apostles, it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought.

Nor is there any foundation for your assertion that doctrine changed among hte apostles or that they differed from each other.

[79] Posted by MichaelA on 12-6-2012 at 05:49 PM · [top]

This is an argument against women bishops from the standpoint of feminist theology.
http://sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/2012/12/feminism-and-church.html

[80] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-6-2012 at 06:12 PM · [top]

Steven and MichaelA,

It’s all Stephen Noll’s fault for getting us off track by asking his question.

Anyway, let’s be clear about something.  I am not saying that the letters of Paul aren’t holy scripture.  I believe what he wrote was truly God-breathed.  But do I think Paul thought he was writing scripture?  No.  As much as I believe what he wrote is as canonical as anything in the OT, Paul himself doesn’t explicitly state anywhere that he believed that about his own writings so I think the burden of proof is really in your court.  Yes, Paul instructed people to read his letters but how else was he going to communicate apostolic doctrine and discipline from a distance? 

In the greater scheme of things it isn’t really worth getting our shorts all in a knot over.  Maybe I’m right and maybe you’re wrong.  It certainly isn’t a salvation issue.  It’s what we do with what he says that counts.

MichaelA, I’m not quite sure how you arrived at this statement from what I said: “Nor is there any foundation for your assertion that doctrine changed among the apostles or that they differed from each other.”  It is something of a non sequitur.  What I said about the author of 2 Peter including Paul’s letters among the scriptures is nothing that you won’t find in discussions about the development of the canon of scripture.  Your definition of scripture also comes from that historical discussion.

As for what you say about supreme power being conferred upon the apostles, I always thought that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus?

[81] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-6-2012 at 08:56 PM · [top]

“It’s all Stephen Noll’s fault for getting us off track by asking his question.”

I knew it! cool smile

“What I said about the author of 2 Peter including Paul’s letters among the scriptures is nothing that you won’t find in discussions about the development of the canon of scripture.”

Ross, many things are discussed in many places.  I am not interested in references to discussions that might be happening elsewhere.  If its relevant to what we are discussing here and now, then by all means state it.

“Your definition of scripture also comes from that historical discussion.”

I beg to differ. 

“As for what you say about supreme power being conferred upon the apostles, I always thought that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus?”

Yes.  How is that inconsistent with what I wrote?  (I suppose I should have written ‘authority’ rather than ‘power’ but I note you have corrected that anyway).

Also, something I forgot to mention: You wrote in an earlier post:

“But whether or not Hays has failed to comprehend the profundity of Paul’s teaching or it’s more the case where Paul has failed in his capacity as a teacher to make himself abundantly clear through his ‘labored and convoluted’ (cf Hays) line of argument is perhaps a discussion for another day on another thread.”

I was a little surprised at this - you were the one who chose to bring Hays into the debate.

[82] Posted by MichaelA on 12-6-2012 at 09:05 PM · [top]

“As much as I believe what he wrote is as canonical as anything in the OT, Paul himself doesn’t explicitly state anywhere that he believed that about his own writings so I think the burden of proof is really in your court.”

Yes, and the burden has been discharged, via my comments about apostolic authority. 

Scripture’s authority comes from apostolic authorship and nowhere else, so the question really is:  Did Paul understand that he was writing with apostolic authority?  You have already properly conceded that he did. 

It is that apostolic authority that made his writings authoritative (i.e. scripture), not recognition by a third party.

[83] Posted by MichaelA on 12-6-2012 at 09:10 PM · [top]

Sorry, MichaelA, but not all the writings by the apostles, even though they may have been written with full apostolic authority, are counted as scripture.  Paul undoubtedly wrote more letters than the thirteen that are included in the canon of scripture and no doubt with full apostolic authority.  Those we have are the ones that survived while the others were lost.  But should a long-lost letter of Paul’s turn up in the ruin of some ancient Mediterranean house church somewhere, while it would be a wonderful discovery and a great treasure to have, it won’t be counted as scripture because the canon is closed as decided by the church - under the close supervision of the Holy Spirit of course. 

As for the authority of [NT] scripture deriving from apostolic authorship and nowhere else, that is open to dispute.  While all the writings of the NT were included in the canon because they are consistent with apostolic doctrine, it is by no means certain that every one of the writings of the NT have immediate apostolic authorship.  Luke, Acts, Hebrews and Revelation come immediately to mind.  But no doubt you will disagree with me on this too.  So be it.

But if we may get back to the main theme of this thread, since you were surprised that I chose not to say anything more about what Richard Hays had written on the 1 Corinthians 11 passage, I will say something now.  The ‘theological quagmire’ he says Paul gets himself into has to do with Paul’s privileging Genesis 2 over Genesis 1:27.  As Hays writes, “Paul’s interpretation of the text, however, seems to depend on a tradition - perhaps based on Genesis 2:7 - that thinks of the male only as originally created in God’s image.  Furthermore it is difficult to see how Genesis provides any support for the notion that woman is the ‘glory’ of man (cf., however, 1 Esdr. 4:17: ‘Women . . . bring men glory’).”  As an Anglican Christian who believes that one “shouldn’t expound one place of Scripture that it is repugnant to another” this creates difficulties for me.

So how do we resolve this?  I think only Paul could explain what he was trying to say here but unfortunately he doesn’t contribute to Stand Firm.  And in spite of what Steven Pascoe says above (#78), 11:8 & 9 don’t really resolve the situation.  They only confirm Paul’s thoughts about male priority.  He states this even more baldly in 1 Timothy 2:13 which creates another conundrum.  As someone who accepts an evolutionary process for human origins it looks to me like Paul simply got it wrong, no disrespect to Paul intended.  He was simply working from a different set of presuppositions.  In saying that, I’m not looking to provoke another firestorm.  That’s just how I see it.

Obviously, I don’t take an inerrantist view of scripture.  As an Anglican, I simply believe that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation and leave it at that.

[84] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-7-2012 at 10:56 AM · [top]

“But should a long-lost letter of Paul’s turn up in the ruin of some ancient Mediterranean house church somewhere, while it would be a wonderful discovery and a great treasure to have, it won’t be counted as scripture because the canon is closed as decided by the church - under the close supervision of the Holy Spirit of course.”

I agree that is wouldn’t be accepted as scripture, but not with the reason you give for that.  The church never “decided” the canon, except in a very particlar sense - the church’s role was and is to *recognise* which writings are of apostolic authority.  Thus it is not the church’s role to make something into scripture which was formerly not - if it is of apostolic authority, then it was scripture from the moment it was written.

The problem I see in your argument lies in its premise - that we could tell that a new found letter was Paul’s.  We have no copies of his signature!  What we cannot do now is authenticate that a new document is Paul’s because we cannot follow the process of checking accounts passed on by eye-witnesses which the early church followed.  If you read the church fathers, this was the original relevance of ‘apostolic succession’ - to authenticate which writings were of apostolic authority because they had always been accepted as such in the churches from the 1st century. 

So no, there cannot be any new scripture, but not for the reason you gave.

“...it is by no means certain that every one of the writings of the NT
have immediate apostolic authorship. Luke, Acts, Hebrews and Revelation come
immediately to mind.”

You need to read or re-read the literature on this subject, in particular the historical documents that attest to the process of canonisation.  Writers like Irenaeus and Tertullian have covered this point:  Scripture did not have to be written by an apostle, so long as it was written under apostolic authority.  That covers Luke, Acts and Mark at the very least (specifically commented on by Tertullian and I think also by Augustine).  Hebrews was considered by the early church to be written under authority of the apostle Paul.  Revelation was written by the apostle John.

“As Hays writes, “Paul’s interpretation of the text, however, seems to depend on a tradition - perhaps based on Genesis 2:7 - that thinks of the male only as originally created in God’s image. Furthermore it is difficult to see how Genesis provides any support for the notion that woman is the ‘glory’ of man (cf., however, 1 Esdr. 4:17: ‘Women . . . bring men glory’)”.”

Respectfully, this appears to say more about Hays than it does about the apostle Paul.

“As someone who accepts an evolutionary process for human origins it looks to me like Paul simply got it wrong, no disrespect to Paul intended. He was simply working from a different set of presuppositions.”

Since Paul was commissioned by Jesus Christ to deliver His words to the Church, I don’t see the wisdom in concluding that Paul was wrong simply because something he writes doesn’t make sense to us.  The more likely explanation is that OUR theological understanding is defective, perhaps at a fundamental level.  A realisation like this can be a great opportunity to revise and learn - if we will only grasp it.

“Obviously, I don’t take an inerrantist view of scripture. As an Anglican, I simply believe that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation and leave it at that.”

Sure, but on what basis do you trust that Scripture is telling you the truth about what is necessary for salvation?  The end of each of our lives could come at any moment, and at that point we face the reality of whether we have followed the right path, with “that peculiar clarity” that Lewis wrote about - it behooves us to be sure that our guide is reliable.

[85] Posted by MichaelA on 12-8-2012 at 05:40 PM · [top]

#84. Ross Gill,
“As someone who accepts an evolutionary process for human origins it looks to me like Paul simply got it wrong, no disrespect to Paul intended.” Disrespect may not have been intended but…....the results are the same. If he is not trustworthy here, doesn’t it open the possibility that Paul is not trustworthy elsewhere?

[86] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-8-2012 at 07:05 PM · [top]

The church never “decided” the canon, except in a very particlar sense - the church’s role was and is to *recognise* which writings are of apostolic authority.  Thus it is not the church’s role to make something into scripture which was formerly not - if it is of apostolic authority, then it was scripture from the moment it was written.

Sorry, MichaelA, but it isn’t as simple as you may want it to be.  First of all, it isn’t scripture if it isn’t in the canon even if it may have been written by an apostle or under apostolic authority and even though some of these writings may at one time have been read as scripture by the early church. Complicating the matter still further is the fact that there have been different canons that were accepted.  Furthermore, the canon or canons, that is, the compilations of the books, were creations of the church in response to heretics like Marcion and various Gnostic ‘gospels’ and other non-apostolic writings making the rounds.  Yes, in compiling the NT canon as they did they were acknowledging the apostolic witness that the books contained but the church decided which books were in and which ones were out presumably under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  And if you read or reread the history of the formation of the canon you will find that at times there was some uncertainty around the entire process.  It has been - and obviously still is - a sensitive topic and one prone to emotional debate and misunderstanding.

Scripture did not have to be written by an apostle, so long as it was written under apostolic authority.

But that wasn’t what you said in #83.  There you said, “Scripture’s authority comes from apostolic authorship and nowhere else…”  It was this statement to which I was responding.

Since Paul was commissioned by Jesus Christ to deliver His words to the Church, I don’t see the wisdom in concluding that Paul was wrong simply because something he writes doesn’t make sense to us.  The more likely explanation is that OUR theological understanding is defective, perhaps at a fundamental level.  A realisation like this can be a great opportunity to revise and learn - if we will only grasp it.

Actually, I can make sense out of what Paul is saying.  And it isn’t simply a matter of my theological understanding being defective, although it no doubt is to some extent because I am a mortal fallible human being after all.  I just think Paul is wrong on this point.  Had he had the advantage as I have of a modern education in biology he probably would have expressed things differently.  I don’t say this with arrogance or with any disrespect to Paul.  It’s just one of the advantages I have from being born in this era.  Jesus certainly commissioned Paul for his work as an apostle in order to bring his “name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel” but he wasn’t an infallible witness.  No one is.  Only Jesus is infallible.  Paul would have been the first to acknowledge this even while he was writing with full apostolic authority.

Fr. Dale said:

If he is not trustworthy here, doesn’t it open the possibility that Paul is not trustworthy elsewhere?

Maybe.  But Paul’s letters and any other book of the Bible should never be read or interpreted in isolation from the rest of Holy Scripture.  Besides Paul isn’t our guide.  Jesus is and he is totally and perfectly reliable.  And his Spirit rustles the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation such that their witness always directs us to him.

In closing, I find it fascinating that we are discussing this on the eve of the Second Sunday of Advent when many Anglicans (unfortunately not all) will pray, “Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. . .”  It’s my favourite Collect.

[87] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-8-2012 at 08:51 PM · [top]

Ross Gill,
“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning. . .”
That is The Collect for Proper 28 in the BCP, not for this Sunday (Advent 2) and not the collect for Advent 2 in the RCL so I don’t know where you are getting that it is for Advent 2. What lectionary are you using?

[88] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-8-2012 at 10:18 PM · [top]

Ross Gill,
“Maybe”. Really? That response is a slippery slope now isn’t it? Why are you so cocksure he is wrong at one point and then say that he may be wrong elsewhere. Would you like to offer up more correctives for St. Paul?

[89] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-8-2012 at 10:23 PM · [top]

Fr. Dale (88)- Second Sunday in Advent in the 1928 BCP (US).  Not that I find Ross Gill’s argument very consistent (how can Paul be wrong- #87, when what Paul writes is “God breathed”- #81), but would agree it is a pity that so few use the 1928 nowadays.  Of course, its having been banned in many TEC dioceses, for all intents and purposes (I actually got called out for using one at a meeting in W Mich), has a lot to do with the decline of orthodox Christianity in TEC.

[90] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-8-2012 at 11:19 PM · [top]

Ross Gill wrote at #87:

“Sorry, MichaelA, but it isn’t as simple as you may want it to be.”

I don’t want it to be simple at all - wherever did you get that idea?  I do, however, want it to be accurate.

“First of all, it isn’t scripture if it isn’t in the canon even if it may have been written by an apostle or under apostolic authority and even though some of these writings may at one time have been read as scripture by the early church.”

You appear to be talking about some sort of hypothetical case, although I have no idea why.  The only basis for any document to be scripture is that it was written by or under the authority of an apostle.

“Complicating the matter still further is the fact that there have been different canons that were accepted.”

May have been?  Does that mean you are just guessing? 

In fact, there is no reliable evidence that “different canons were accepted”.

“Furthermore, the canon or canons, that is, the compilations of the books, were creations of the church in response to heretics like Marcion and various Gnostic ‘gospels’ and other non-apostolic writings making the rounds.”

That is almost correct, but not in the way that you intend.  It is true that, from the 2nd Century AD, heretics like Marcion tried to remove books from the existing canon and heretics like the Gnostics tried to add new books.  And for that reason it was necessary for leaders of the church in the 3rd and 4th centuries to speak out against these heresies and bring the church back to the scripture that it had known since the time of the apostles.

“Yes, in compiling the NT canon as they did they were acknowledging the apostolic witness that the books contained but the church decided which books were in and which ones were out presumably under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

If this is meant to suggest that the Church made a decision as to which books were acceptable to be counted as scripture, then that is simply wrong.  The church neither had nor claimed any authority to make such a decision.  The only thing it could do was to ascertain whether a book was written under apostolic authority.

“And if you read or reread the history of the formation of the canon you will find that at times there was some uncertainty around the entire process.”

Since no-one has suggested otherwise, I do not understand why you have written this.

“It has been - and obviously still is - a sensitive topic and one prone to emotional debate and misunderstanding.”

Indeed - your comments so demonstrate.  But it is an important topic and one that should be regularly discussed so that the true situation is understood. 

“I just think Paul is wrong on this point. Had he had the advantage as I have of a modern education in biology he probably would have expressed things differently.”

Sure.  I understand that your education and intellect is superior to that of the apostle Paul - its a common liberal belief.  But in reality, your education is just an excuse because you want to be able to pick and choose which of Paul’s teachings to follow, the same as you wish to pick and choose which of his master Jesus Christ’s teachings to follow.

“Jesus certainly commissioned Paul for his work as an apostle in order to bring his “name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel” but he wasn’t an infallible witness. No one is. Only Jesus is infallible.”

Jesus commissioned His apostles to deliver His teaching.  If you reject the apostles, you have rejected Jesus.

“Paul would have been the first to acknowledge this even while he was writing with full apostolic authority.”

There was nothing stopping him doing so.  Would you like to show me where he did?

“But Paul’s letters and any other book of the Bible should never be read or interpreted in isolation from the rest of Holy Scripture.”

Very true, but that is not an answer to Fr. Dale’s question.  He put his finger on the fundamental weakness in your position, and you cannot answer it. 

You do not in fact have a basis for why we should obey anything in the Bible - not even the words of Jesus, since they were entirely reported to us by the apostles.  If we cannot trust the apostles’ own words, then neither can we trust that they have accurately reported Jesus’ words to us.

[91] Posted by MichaelA on 12-9-2012 at 03:50 AM · [top]

Fr. Dale, further to what tjmcmahon says in #88, not only is this collect found in the American 1928 BCP, it is the collect for the 2nd Sunday of Advent in the English Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662.  It is also the collect for the 2nd of Advent in Canadian BCP’s up to and including 1962.

[92] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-9-2012 at 03:34 PM · [top]

Ross Gill,
And you use that Collect because your congregation uses it? Because you celebrate by yourself? Under what circumstances?

[93] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-9-2012 at 04:31 PM · [top]

And you use that Collect because your congregation uses it? Because you celebrate by yourself? Under what circumstances?

I use it in my personal devotions as I did this morning and will for the rest of the week.  I’ve used it while celebrating the early 1962 Canadian BCP eucharist in my parish.  The 1962 BCP is still the authorized prayer book in Canada although most of the time I use the BAS collect because we use the RCL.  Sometimes, though, I opt for the BCP collect simply because I like it better in light of what I plan to say (and sometimes simply because I forgot to being my Book of Alternative services to the prayer desk and the BCP is the one in my hand.)

At our 10:30 a.m. eucharist which is always from the BAS or from one of the authorized supplemental rites, I use the BAS collect of the day.  This morning, though, I began my sermon by praying the BCP 2nd of Advent collect as I did last year when I preached on it.

[94] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-9-2012 at 08:32 PM · [top]

Ross Gill,
Thanks for the clarification.

[95] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-9-2012 at 09:51 PM · [top]

MichaelA in #91 said:

You appear to be talking about some sort of hypothetical case, although I have no idea why.

No. Hebrews was disputed and kept out of the canon initially by mainstream catholics who doubted its authorship largely because they didn’t like what the Montanists did with it.  The Revelation to John was sometimes in and sometimes out.  Origen disputed Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2&3 John and Jude.  Eusebius included Revelation but had doubts about its authorship.  He also didn’t include James, 2 Peter, 2&3 John and Jude although he acknowledged that they were well known.  Other writings like the Shepherd of Hermas was initially counted as scripture by some but eventually dropped. 

May have been?  Does that mean you are just guessing?

Actually I didn’t say ‘may have been.’  I said, “Complicating the matter still further is the fact that there have been different canons that were accepted.”  No guessing is involved. Look up Muratorian Canon.

That is almost correct, but not in the way that you intend.  It is true that, from the 2nd Century AD, heretics like Marcion tried to remove books from the existing canon and heretics like the Gnostics tried to add new books.  And for that reason it was necessary for leaders of the church in the 3rd and 4th centuries to speak out against these heresies and bring the church back to the scripture that it had known since the time of the apostles.

Actually, it is correct.  It was because Marcion came up with his list that orthodox believers thought it would be a good idea to come up with their own.

If this is meant to suggest that the Church made a decision as to which books were acceptable to be counted as scripture, then that is simply wrong.  The church neither had nor claimed any authority to make such a decision.  The only thing it could do was to ascertain whether a book was written under apostolic authority.

Look up Council of Carthage. If the church didn’t have and claim the authority they wouldn’t have put the canon together.

Sure.  I understand that your education and intellect is superior to that of the apostle Paul - its a common liberal belief.

I was wondering when the ‘L’ word would put in an appearance.  I’m surprised it took this long.  Entirely predictable.  But I never said that that my education and intellect were superior to Paul’s.  I simply said that I have had the advantage of a scientific education which wasn’t available to Paul.  I’ve been privileged.

But in reality, your education is just an excuse because you want to be able to pick and choose which of Paul’s teachings to follow, the same as you wish to pick and choose which of his master Jesus Christ’s teachings to follow.

You neither know me nor what motivates me.  I said nothing about picking and choosing, only that in the light of what I find in the rest of scripture and from what I believe about the origin of human life that Paul got it wrong here.

Jesus commissioned His apostles to deliver His teaching.  If you reject the apostles, you have rejected Jesus.

Quite true which is really what the judgement scene in Matthew 25 is about.  But I’m not rejecting the people Jesus sent into the world as his agents and messengers who were to make disciples and teach people what Jesus had taught them.  I’m only saying that on this matter one of them got it wrong.  On a not unrelated matter, I fully believe that where it comes to core apostolic doctrine as in the creeds for instance, we must always accept what the apostles taught.  But on matters of church discipline maybe not always so much because they were directed to a specific time and place.  Discerning the difference between doctrine and discipline is vital.  That being said, heeding the apostle’s teaching about female modesty in dress in public worship maybe needs to be practised a little more. 

There was nothing stopping him doing so.  Would you like to show me where he did?

1 Corinthians 7:40 comes to mind.  That can be interpreted to mean that Paul thinks the Holy Spirit may be leading in him in this but that the matter isn’t necessarily settled in the direction of his opinion.

Very true, but that is not an answer to Fr. Dale’s question.  He put his finger on the fundamental weakness in your position, and you cannot answer it.  You do not in fact have a basis for why we should obey anything in the Bible - not even the words of Jesus, since they were entirely reported to us by the apostles.  If we cannot trust the apostles’ own words, then neither can we trust that they have accurately reported Jesus’ words to us.

Actually, it would only be true that Fr. Dale put his finger on the fundamental weakness of my position if I held an inerrant view of scripture.  And even if I did hold such a view it wouldn’t necessarily be a fundamental flaw because an inerrant view of scripture holds that the scriptures in their original written form were inerrant.  But we don’t have the scriptures in the original written form and errors have crept in through scribal glosses and maybe even interpolations.  So if it could be shown that the 1 Corinthians 11 passage we’ve been talking about was, as some believe, composed by someone other than the apostle Paul and injected into the text, we could reject it and still hold an inerrant view of scripture.  This is only conjecture and I don’t really believe it to be the case, but I will have to read what a careful scholar like Gordon Fee said on the matter as alluded to by N.T. Wright in his paper.  Maybe we really can have our cake and eat it to.

But as I have said, I don’t hold to an inerrant view of scripture. I am an Anglican who believes that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation.  And as I “hear them, read, mark learn and inwardly digest them” they will so form and shape me and enable, equip and empower me to “embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life” such that I need never fear falling down some hypothetical slippery slope.

Here endeth the epistle.

[96] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-10-2012 at 10:44 AM · [top]

“Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation”

An utterly worthless and meaningless statement if the scriptures err. You have no basis for it. You just believe it because you want to believe it because you want to believe it and you think that is somehow consistent with “anglicanism”.

[97] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-10-2012 at 11:03 AM · [top]

Matt Kennedy said:

An utterly worthless and meaningless statement if the scriptures err. You have no basis for it. You just believe it because you want to believe it because you want to believe it and you think that is somehow consistent with “anglicanism”.

Nonsense.  I believe it because it’s true.  The Holy Spirit inspired particular people who were very much creatures of their particular time and place to use the language, thought forms, stories and myths available to them to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.  That some of those stories and myths may not be factually true doesn’t in any way detract from the inspiration of their writings or from the fact that the Lord caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning.

[98] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-10-2012 at 07:35 PM · [top]

Hi Ross

“Nonsense.  I believe it because it’s true.”

Not really. You believe those sections you choose to believe but without any basis…because any biblical text to which you might appeal to validate your belief is, perhaps, in error.

“The Holy Spirit inspired particular people who were very much creatures of their particular time and place to use the language, thought forms, stories and myths available to them to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.”

True…and utterly irrelevant to the question of inerrancy.

“That some of those stories and myths may not be factually true doesn’t in any way detract from the inspiration of their writings or from the fact that the Lord caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning.”

How do you know that?

[99] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-10-2012 at 07:46 PM · [top]

Ross Gill wrote,

1. “Hebrews was disputed and kept out of the canon initially by mainstream catholics who doubted its authorship largely because they didn’t like what the Montanists did with it.”

Even if this were accurate, you have yourself supported my point – it was the *authorship* of the book that mattered.  If a book was of apostolic authorship then it was scripture.  From time to time doubts were raised, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD when heretics mounted sustained attacks on the authority of the apostolic books.  But the church always came back to the same principle: if a book had been written under apostolic authority, then it was scripture.

2. “The Revelation to John was sometimes in and sometimes out.”

In the context of our discussion, this is misleading.  Revelation was one of a number of books that were doubted by some sections of the church as a result of insinuations or outright attacks by Marcionite and Gnostic heretics in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.  It does not change the fact that all scriptural books were known to be of apostolic authority from the time they were written.

3. “Origen disputed Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2&3 John and Jude.”

No, he didn’t.  He indicated that he had doubts about whether 2 Peter was genuine, and that some people in his day (3rd century AD) disputed 2 and 3 John.  Same for the other books you mention.  Origen was in the position of so many others of his day, who were left confused by the attacks of the Marcionites and Gnostics.  But that didn’t change the fact that the church had known from the beginning what was scripture.

4. “Eusebius included Revelation but had doubts about its authorship.  He also didn’t include James, 2 Peter, 2&3 John and Jude although he acknowledged that they were well known.”

Firstly, Eusebius (who wrote in the early 4th century AD) did not himself purport to exclude or include anything.  He recorded what the controversy was in his day.  But that doesn’t affect the fact that the church knew and accepted the books of apostolic authorship back in the 1st century.

5. “Other writings like the Shepherd of Hermas was initially counted as scripture by some but eventually dropped.”

Exactly – constant efforts were made by various people to have their books accepted as scripture (i.e. as being of apostolic origin) because of the fundamental authority that scripture was accorded by the whole church.  Thus rumours had been spread that the Shepherd of Hermas was of apostolic origin.  But appropriate research ascertained that it was not so, and it is important to note that this was regarded as the key point:

“But Hermas wrote the Shepherd very recently, in our times, in the city of Rome, while bishop Pius, his brother, was occupying the chair of the church of the city of Rome.  And therefore it ought indeed to be read [privately]; but it cannot be read publicly to the people in church either among the Prophets, whose number is complete, or among the Apostles, for it is after [their] time.” [Muratorian Fragment, lines 73-80]

The important principles are exactly as I set them out above – a document was scripture if it was written under prophetic authority (in the Old Testament) or under apostolic authority (in the New Testament).  That was the key question for the church to determine. 

6. “Actually I didn’t say ‘may have been.’”

Apologies – my mistake.

7. “I said, “Complicating the matter still further is the fact that there have been different canons that were accepted.”  No guessing is involved. Look up Muratorian Canon.”

I am quite familiar with the Muratorian Fragment, and it does not support your argument.  Rather the reverse.

8. “Actually, it is correct.  It was because Marcion came up with his list that orthodox believers thought it would be a good idea to come up with their own.”

You can keep repeating error until you are blue in the face but it won’t change anything.  The church knew what scripture was from apostolic times.  Marcion attacked the authority of existing scriptural documents – he didn’t “formulate a canon” where none had existed before, rather he attacked the authority of books which the church had always acknowledged as authoritative.

9. “Look up Council of Carthage. If the church didn’t have and claim the authority they wouldn’t have put the canon together.”

I am quite familiar with the Council of Carthage (whichever one you mean – several made comments on the canon).  The church never claimed the authority to “put the Canon together”.  It only recognised the truth that it always held.  As one of the Councils of Carthage puts it: “for these are the things that we have received from our fathers to be read in church.”

To be cont. …

[100] Posted by MichaelA on 12-10-2012 at 10:00 PM · [top]

Continued from #100:

10. “I was wondering when the ‘L’ word would put in an appearance.  I’m surprised it took this long.  Entirely predictable.”

Of course – your beliefs are garden-variety liberalism.  I wasn’t insulting you (most liberals are proud of the appellation) just pointing out where your beliefs lie, and that they are nothing new.  What’s the problem?

11. “But I never said that that my education and intellect were superior to Paul’s.  I simply said that I have had the advantage of a scientific education which wasn’t available to Paul.”

Precisely.  Your education and intellect trump Paul’s direct revelation from God.

12. “I said nothing about picking and choosing, only that in the light of what I find in the rest of scripture and from what I believe about the origin of human life that Paul got it wrong here.”

I know you don’t want to think that you are picking and choosing, but the hard truth is that is what you are doing.

13. “But I’m not rejecting the people Jesus sent into the world as his agents and messengers who were to make disciples and teach people what Jesus had taught them.  I’m only saying that on this matter one of them got it wrong.”

Which is rejecting their authority, which means rejecting them.  Oh, I realise that you wouldn’t reject them socially, probably invite them in for a cup of tea and a bun if they called by, but that is not what we are talking about.  It’s the same as those who think they can reject Jesus’ authority without rejecting him – they are deluding themselves.

14. “On a not unrelated matter, I fully believe that where it comes to core apostolic doctrine as in the creeds for instance, we must always accept what the apostles taught.”

And since you are deciding what is “core apostolic doctrine” we are just back to where liberals have always been since the 19th century – e.g. ‘the search for the historical Jesus’, with each person deciding what his teaching must have been on the basis of what fits in best with their personal beliefs.

15. “But on matters of church discipline maybe not always so much because they were directed to a specific time and place.”

Really?  Where do you get this criterion from – the teachings of Ross Gill?  I agree that the apostles’ words have to be read on their own terms – if they write in a way that refers to a particular time and place (which on occasions they do) then of course that is how we should read it – but the distinction between doctrine and church discipline is an arbitrary one chosen by yourself. 

16. “Discerning the difference between doctrine and discipline is vital.”

So spake Ross Gill.  But I would prefer to follow the teachings of Christ and his apostles, who do not make such a distinction.

17. “1 Corinthians 7:40 comes to mind.  That can be interpreted to mean that Paul thinks the Holy Spirit may be leading in him in this but that the matter isn’t necessarily settled in the direction of his opinion.”

That’s it? You are basing your assertion on one verse, which you say “can be interpreted” your way? 

In fact that verse shows the opposite.  Paul says I think (meaning “I consider” – no doubt is implied in the Greek word, even though that is a possible reading in English) that he has the Spirit of God.  His point is that anyone who thinks differently from him on that issue does not have the Spirit of God.  Note that ‘Also’ (Gr. kai) does not imply that someone who thinks differently has the spirit of God, however it may appear in English.  Matthew Henry paraphrases Paul’s point well: “Whatever your false apostles may think of me, I think, and have reason to know, that I have the Spirit of God.”  Paul is affirming his apostolic authority, just as he does at several other points in 1 Corinthians.

18. “But we don’t have the scriptures in the original written form and errors have crept in through scribal glosses and maybe even interpolations.”

They have?  What errors?  You are telling me that One who created all the universe and took the burden of all mankind’s sins (including the very worst) on himself to destroy them, and even raises the dead, is incapable of preserving his scriptures?  Not much of a “God”, is he?  Why should we trust him for salvation?

19. “This is only conjecture and I don’t really believe it to be the case…”

Then why waste our time with it?

20. “I am an Anglican who believes that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation.”

I don’t doubt it.  Every liberal “believes” the Articles, the Creeds, the Bible etc.  But your definition of “believe” is where we part company.

[101] Posted by MichaelA on 12-10-2012 at 10:01 PM · [top]

Ross Gill (#96) tripped my Walter Righter lever with the following statement:

I fully believe that where it comes to core apostolic doctrine as in the creeds for instance, we must always accept what the apostles taught.  But on matters of church discipline maybe not always so much because they were directed to a specific time and place.  Discerning the difference between doctrine and discipline is vital.

I would ask him to consider the following response, which I made (unsuccessfully) to the Righter court in 1996 that the doctrine/discipline distinction is neither biblical nor Anglican. The Court rationalized the core doctrine argument to get Righter (and three of the judges) off the hook. Of course they really did not believe the rationale any more than they really believe the core doctrine (can you spell Spong?)! The rest is history.

[102] Posted by Stephen Noll on 12-11-2012 at 06:06 AM · [top]

Ross Gill,
“The Holy Spirit inspired particular people who were very much creatures of their particular time and place to use the language, thought forms, stories and myths available to them to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.” When you consider cultural context, doesn’t that bring into question your own cultural understanding you bring to Scripture? What about the Gospels themselves? For example did Mark bias what Jesus said based on his own culture? I can recognize the postmodern template you embrace and employ.

[103] Posted by Fr. Dale on 12-11-2012 at 07:58 AM · [top]

Thanks to Matt+, Stephen Noll+, Fr. Dale, and Michael A (not sure Michael, do you also get a “+”?) for a very interesting critique and discussion.  And thanks also, in a way, to Ross Gill, for “inspiring” the dissection of his arguments. 

What ever happened to the concept that church discipline is an implementation of doctrine? 

The great problem that besets the Episcopal Church (and much of western Anglicanism) in the current day is that these are distinguished as separate and equal (or worse, that the organizational structure and discipline as determined by a small clique outweighs doctrine)- which has led to a circumstance in which any bishop who maintains doctrine in concert with the pastoral epistles (or Scripture as a whole, for that matter) is removed, and those bishops who violate that doctrine are enthroned and promoted.  And also leads to GC voting in liturgies clearly at odds with the “doctrine, discipline and worship as the Church has received them.”

[104] Posted by tjmcmahon on 12-11-2012 at 11:39 AM · [top]

No +, tj, just a pew dweller!

[105] Posted by MichaelA on 12-12-2012 at 01:50 AM · [top]

Hello all.

I stepped away to calm down for a bit.  I didn’t want to respond in a snarky tone to some of the posts which is where I saw myself heading.  Partly as a result of that mini-hiatus, I’m not going to respond to everything I have provoked here.  Besides there is just too much to respond to and it would take up the rest of the day to do it any kind of justice.  Think what you wish about that.  But there are a few things I want to say and then I’m going to let it go . . . at least for a while. . . maybe.

First of all, as I’ve stated, I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant.  I think I hear what people are saying about the trustworthiness of scripture when they make that claim but I believe it is ultimately an untenable position.  As to my own position, while I am not a big fan of attaching labels and placing people in categories – it often leads to forms of Bulverism – I suppose if you wanted to pigeon-hole me you could stick a label of infallibility of scripture on my forehead.  And I suppose I need to qualify that a little bit because people have varying definitions of infallibility.  I believe the Bible is unfailingly true when it comes to matters that are necessary to salvation and that as I read it in faith it will unfailingly accomplish those purposes for which God caused it to be written.  That is the position I was coming from when I said:

The Holy Spirit inspired particular people who were very much creatures of their particular time and place to use the language, thought forms, stories and myths available to them to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.  That some of those stories and myths may not be factually true doesn’t in any way detract from the inspiration of their writings or from the fact that the Lord caused all holy scripture to be written for our learning.

I should have added that I believe this because the same Holy Spirit who inspired these particular people – these fallible, sinful, error-prone people – is also present within the hearts and minds of fallible believers to inspire and guide them as they read the words He inspired.

Secondly, on the matter of doctrine and discipline I have bookmarked Stephen Noll’s paper in a folder of ‘papers-to-be-read’.  I’ll get to it when I have another extra moment.  I do believe, though, that some of Paul’s instructions have a provisional quality to them and that as situations changed they no longer were in effect the same way.  The entire ‘women in ministry thing’ is, I believe, a case in point.  What Paul said to Timothy and to the Christians in Corinth on the matter no longer totally applies because the situation has changed.  I use the word ‘totally’ to qualify it a bit because gender differences still need to be respected and when I see the outfits some people turn up in, his appeal for modesty in dress certainly needs to be heard. 

So how do I know what still applies and what doesn’t?  Through reflection and the guidance of the Holy Spirit I would hope.  This opens a whole other can of worms I know.  But with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we immerse ourselves in the scriptures as an actor immerses himself in his script (an N.T. Wright image), we will, I believe, be enabled to discern the difference between the activities of the spirit-of-the-age and the action of the Holy Spirit. 

Lastly, something MichaelA said moved me off on a tangent.  I recognize that I privilege some parts of scripture over others.  I am not unique in this, of course.  It’s something we all do whether knowingly or unknowingly.  Martin Luther did it when he privileged what Paul said about justification by faith in Christ to the point where he wanted to exclude James from the canon.  Many charismatic Christians, as much as they may claim to preach the full gospel, still will privilege the Book of Acts and First Corinthians or at least interpret other books through that lens.  So I guess in a sense I really do proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ according to Ross Gill.  But then, the gospel can only be proclaimed through sinful, fallible, error-prone people like myself.  Unless he overrode my personality or started dictating to me directly what to say, the Spirit of Jesus can only inspire me to use the language, thought forms, stories and myths available to me to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ.  In no way am I saying that anything I have to say is on a par with what’s in the New Testament canon.  There is a difference of degree – and even of kind I suppose although I would pray that with the Spirit’s guidance it is the same gospel.  I can only ask that the Spirit of Jesus will involve himself in the process and then move ahead trusting that he is.

[106] Posted by Ross Gill on 12-13-2012 at 12:06 PM · [top]

Amazing discussion.  Sadly #106 it seems that you have pushed out to sea at the mercies and vagaries of the currents of the times…happy landings!

[107] Posted by aacswfl1 on 12-13-2012 at 02:28 PM · [top]

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