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January 29, 2009


Climbing Mt Durham - Scaling the Arguments for Women’s Consecration

The question of the consecration of women in the Anglican Communion, whether they should be made bishops, is one that is currently raging both here in Australia and back home in the Church of England and about which I have written before.

Perhaps the most prominent and respected “evangelical” supporter of such moves in the CofE is Tom Wright, bishop of Durham. His piece, co-authored with +Salisbury back in 2006 entitled “Women Bishops: A Response to Cardinal Kasper” appears to be widely accepted by the more moderate proponents of the position as the standard summary of their argument. While the piece responds to the Roman Catholic Cardinal Kasper, who spoke to the CofE General Synod on the subject, it also sets out what it calls “Women Bishops: Biblical Exegesis and Theological Anthropology” in a second section.

It is my intention in a series of posts to address the arguments raised in that piece. I do not doubt that there are many proponents of women’s consecration who will be unmoved by what I have to write. Sadly they are all to often unmoved by Scriptural argument anyway. On the other side there will be others who are thoroughly convinced that the consecration of women is not God’s will who will not need further persuasion. But I suspect there are also a good number of people in the middle who are genuinely interested, but also cannot honestly say they’ve seen a decent discussion of the issues from a Biblical perspective. Also I hope to at least demonstrate to some that our objection to this move is a theological one, as the clone has recently remonstrated.

The first argument made by +Durham and +Salisbury is as follows:

Cardinal Kasper’s reference to Junia in Romans 16:7 itself seemed to allow that there might after all be a possibility of re-opening the question; if, he seemed to imply, it could be demonstrated that Junia really was a woman (not ‘Junias’, a supposedly masculine name, as most translations have had it), then even Roman tradition might be forced to recognise the possibility that women could be apostles, and therefore presumably could hold ordained ministry in the apostolic succession. In fact, despite what the Cardinal suggested at that point in his paper, recent scholarship, drawing on excellent philology and study of ancient names, strongly suggests that the person in question was female. Junia is a well-known female name of the period, but the suggested male name Junias is not otherwise known; and, when Greek scribes began to introduce accents into their texts, they accented the name in such a way as to make it clear that it was female. That, despite what the Cardinal said, is how it appears in the most recent edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament; and the newest edition of Metzger’s commentary on textual variants indicates that those who still preferred the masculine accentuation did so simply on the grounds that they doubted whether a woman would be referred to as an ‘apostle’ - which precisely begs the methodological question.

Romans 16:7 reads as follows (and I’ve chosen the NIV here for reasons that will become apparent):

Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

The argument, as Wright notes, has been over whether ‘Ιουνιαν (“Junias” or “Junia”, as other translations put it) is a man or woman. As Wright argues, the weight is probably in favour of a female for the reasons he states.

But that is not the end of the matter, although Wright seems to believe that it is. For having identified Junia as female is a long step from having established her as an Apostle.

The actual greek of “outstanding amongst the apostles” is

επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοισ

which might be best literally translated “they are well respected in the apostles”. The problem here is that it is entirely uncertain whether Paul, by this phrase, means us to understand:

  1. “They are well respected amongst (ie as part of) the other Apostles”
  2. They are well respected by the Apostles

It should be obvious that much hinges upon this.

Paul does not, anywhere else, use this phrase “εν τοισ αποστολοισ” or anything similar and this is his only use of επισημοσ (“well known”). επισημοσ is, incidentally, used in Matt. 27:16 to speak of the notoriety of Barabbas - the same word is obviously used by Paul in a much more positive light in Rom. 16:7.

Even if the first option is accepted, and there is no convincing reason in the grammar alone to demand it, the next hurdle to be jumped is Paul’s use of the word “apostle”, αποστολοσ. The word literally means “sent one” and although Paul uses it frequently to speak of his perculiarly Apostolic ministry he also uses it in the more general sense. So, for example (with the translation of αποστολοσ italicised):

2 Corinthians 8:23 If there is any question about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; if there is any question about our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ.

Philippians 2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need.

and again he uses the verb “to send” (αποστελλω):

2 Corinthians 12:17 I have not taken advantage of you through anyone I have sent to you, have I?

2 Timothy 4:12 Now I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.

These individuals are “apostles” in a wider sense. They are sent on gospel ministry but they are not the Twelve, the Apostles.

It may very well be, then, than Junia was a female (in fact I think she most certainly was). But that is a long stretch from proving that she was a female Apostle, in the sense that Paul himself was. It seems a massive burden to place on what is an ambiguous text. She is one in a list of many, no doubt a faithful gospel minister of one form or another. But to claim, on the basis of this one verse that there was a female Apostle is, I would suggest, almost far-fetched. The text will simply not support the claim, as keen as some may be to have it be so.


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46 comments

The idea that honor and rank/position are not the same thing should be part of this discussion.  There are women who were held in high honor, but that is not the same as position of authority within the Church.

[1] Posted by Scott+ on 1-29-2009 at 05:33 AM · [top]

Am I correct in understanding that Paul’s claim to being an apostle was based on his assertion that he had seen the risen Lord?  In this, there seems to be a basic Pauline tenet.  Seeing the risen Lord makes one an apostle.  If that is the case then Mary of Magdala certainly was.  Additionally any others who, in a vision such as Paul’s among whom were certainly females, would qualify.  Dr.Pricilla Turner might be willing to chime in here?  By contrast, if “apostle” means of the twelve, then Paul’s own understanding of himself as such is certainly in question.  By contrast again, if “apostle” is to be understood as one engaged in mission to the unconverted, then Paul is certainly one as are many, even our contemporaries.  Given the ambiquities in the meaning of the term, one thing is clear, Paul himself never considered for a moment that his words would be poured over by linguists, historians and thelogians 2000 years later.

[2] Posted by EmilyH on 1-29-2009 at 06:47 AM · [top]

No EmilyH…he not only “saw the risen Lord” he was “commissioned as an apostle” by the Risen Lord. Over 500 saw the Risen Jesus but not all 500 were given apostolic authority. There is no scriptural backing for your “assertion” that Mary was so appointed. There is plenty, not only from Paul’s own “assertions” (which are inerrant by the way), but from Luke (in Acts) and Peter (2 Peter 3:14-16)

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 1-29-2009 at 07:12 AM · [top]

#2 Being an apostle is more than just a witness of the resurrection. The apostles were sent by Christ personally for their role.

Matthew 10:1-2

1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
2 The names of the twelve apostles are these:

Acts 1:2

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.

Also from Acts 1

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.
23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed and said, You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen
25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.
26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Seeing the resurrected Christ is only one element of it. Luke here emphases that the apostles were chosen by Christ for the appointed role. For Paul, we have Acts 9:

13 But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.
14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.
15 But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.

It is from this choice of Christ that Paul, Peter, John and the others based their authority.

Paul’s own writing confirms that it is this call which gave him authority. Romans 1:1:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

And most of his letters say much the same.
1 Timothy 2:7


7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

From all this, I conclude that the office of apostle is given by appointment by Christ.

For the possibly contrary passages, we have
1 Corinthians 9:6 reads

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?

One cannot infer from this that it is just that one has seen Jesus our Lord that makes one an apostle, any more than one can claim that it is just freedom that makes one an apostle.

1 Corinthians 15

6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Merely states that all the apostles were witnesses of the resurrection, not that everyone who is a witness to the resurrection is an apostle.


Also Luke 24:10

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

fairly clearly excludes Mary Magdalene from the number of the apostles. It does not say `the other apostles’ but just `the apostles’.

[4] Posted by Boring Bloke on 1-29-2009 at 07:35 AM · [top]

Nevertheless, it does seem that one’s understanding of the correct reading of the text is influenced by one’s starting assumptions.  That is, that women cannot be an apostle in the since that Paul was.  I am somewhat amused that the ambiguity in the translation falls away when Junia is translated as Junius and it only arises when we have a female, Junia.

However this section of scripture does not stand alone and must be read together with the whole of scripture.  Given the ambiguity, in my opinion a female bishop should never be forced on anyone who has scriputral objections.

[5] Posted by Br. Michael on 1-29-2009 at 07:45 AM · [top]

Struggling with the question of whether “Junia” was an “apostle” is probably a rather pointless exercise in trying to make the Scripture say more than it says in order to justify a particular ecclesiology—which really cannot be found in Scripture one way or another.

“Apostle” seems to be used in several senses in Scripture. 

First, and foremost, it refers to the twelve, who followed Jesus throughout his ministry, and were witnesses of his resurrection.  Matthias replaced Judas in this role.

Second, it seems to refer to a witness of the resurrection with a special commission from God.  Paul is using the word “apostle” in this sense of himself.  He was not one of the twelve.  He was not a disciple of Jesus during his ministry.

Third, it may well also simply be used in the ordinary sense of something like a missionary—an apostle is literally, “one who is sent.”  Junia was likely an “apostle” in this sense.  Priscilla (of Priscilla and Aquila fame) would likely be a parallel example.

What relation this has (if any) to ordained ministry in a post-apostolic church is nowhere commented on in Scripture, and any arguments claiming to be based thereon will be eisegesis. 

I think it relevant to note that the office of episcopos and presbyteros are synonymous in the New Testament. The word hierus (priest) is applied only to Christ in the New Testament, and never to office holders in the church.  The English word “priest” is sometimes said to be derived from “presbyter,” but “presbyter” is simply the Greek for “elder” or “old man.” It does not mean “priest” (hierus). An older woman is a presbytera, and they are referred to as such in the New Testament.  The three-fold distinction between bishop, presbyter and deacon is a second century development.  It does not yet appear in the New Testament. Likewise, bishops (episcopoi) are not called apostles in the New Testament.  One can argue that in the second century, they are successors to apostles, but they are not apostles themselves.

I have always found it interesting that arguments against women’s ordination tend to reflect one’s beliefs about what is really the important thing that clergy do.  For example, Roman Catholics have no problem with women preaching, teaching, and even leading congregations.  They just do not want them to celebrate the eucharist.  Conversely, low church Protestants (like Southern Baptists) sometimes have no problem with lay people overseeing the celebration of the Lord’s Supper—this occasionally happened in the church in which I grew up—but they don’t want women to preach.  (For some inexplicable reason, it is okay for women to be missionaries.  Lottie Moon, a famous Baptist missionary to China, could not have preached or pastored a Baptist church in the United States, but it was okay for her to do the equivalent in China).

Similarly, opposite theological arguments are sometimes used to explain why women cannot be ordained.  The Western Catholic argument is that women cannot be ordained because the priest acts in persona christ, as a representative of Christ—and women do not resemble Christ.

Of course, (as I have pointed out repeatedly), in the Eastern church, the priest acts in persona ecclesiae, as a representative of the church, and the church (as the bride of Christ) is feminine.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever argued that a priest cannot be male because a man does not resemble a bride.

Conversely, the current argument used by conservative Protestants (like Wayne Gruden), argues against women’s ordination on the grounds of the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father in the Trinity.  That is, women cannot be ordained because they do resemble Christ.

So, a woman cannot be ordained because women cannot resemble Christ, but a woman also cannot be ordained because women do resemble Christ, and men can be ordained, although women do not resemble the Bride of Christ.

That the arguments are logically contradictory indicates to me that the justifications are largely ad hoc.  Opposition to women’s ordination does not follow from these arguments.  Rather, the arguments provide a rationalization for a position previously embraced.

[6] Posted by William Witt on 1-29-2009 at 08:51 AM · [top]

What about reliance on the ‘husband of one wife, keep his children in subject, managing his own house well’ verses?

[7] Posted by Bo on 1-29-2009 at 09:11 AM · [top]

What about reliance on the ‘husband of one wife, keep his children in subject, managing his own house well’ verses?

To the best of my knowledge, there are not too many churches that push this one too literally.  Rome insists its clergy be celibate. Orthodoxy prefers them that way, but allows them to be ordained if married before ordination.  I have not heard of any cases of Reformation churches that have refused to ordain a candidate because he was single, or, if married, did not yet have children, or had only one.  Nor am I aware of any clergy who have been deposed because of unruly children.  It must happen—somewhere.

[8] Posted by William Witt on 1-29-2009 at 09:22 AM · [top]

William Witt, of course of people have different understandings of the church they will have different reasons why women cannot be ordained.  The more important thing to notice is that people from a variety of viewpoints think that it is a bad idea.  Maybe that should impact our opinion.

[9] Posted by ACNApriest on 1-29-2009 at 09:23 AM · [top]

Gee Dave, when you start with this little zinger,

I do not doubt that there are many proponents of women’s consecration who will be unmoved by what I have to write. Sadly they are all to often unmoved by Scriptural argument anyway.

you kind of make it hard for me to want to read any further.  Maybe you didn’t get the memo since you aren’t in the States, but there is a new spirit here that wants to put aside the old way of doing things.  Would it have ruined your article to leave out that snide comment?  I doubt it.

[10] Posted by Widening Gyre on 1-29-2009 at 09:28 AM · [top]

“... in my opinion a female bishop should never be forced on anyone who has scriputral objections.”

Would that other anglicans were uniformly as charitable to their fellow believers.

rolleyes

[11] Posted by tired on 1-29-2009 at 09:30 AM · [top]

Given the ambiguity, in my opinion a female bishop should never be forced on anyone who has scriputral objections.

Oh…if only…!

[12] Posted by Nikolaus on 1-29-2009 at 09:43 AM · [top]

Mr. Witt,
Anglicans have married bishops - making them the closest to scripture of the churches with an historic episcopate.  Up until recently all of their clergy had the potential to fulfill the requirement.  Why move away from scripture rather than toward it?

[13] Posted by Bo on 1-29-2009 at 10:35 AM · [top]

Paul himself never considered for a moment that his words would be poured over by linguists, historians and thelogians 2000 years later.

Paul most certainly wrote for the generations that would come after him, how many there might be. I really don’t understand this statement, EmilyH. I think he certainly hoped that people would pore over his words and study them deeply.

[14] Posted by oscewicee on 1-29-2009 at 11:01 AM · [top]

Thank you William Witt. The objective way you approach things is helpful. Given that the office of Bishop was created by the Church, and that it has borne such poor fruit since it was created, possibly the conservative remnant should be pondering the roles of our leaders going forward, male or female. I don’t know why a faithful woman would want to be a Bishop.

[15] Posted by Jimmy DuPre on 1-29-2009 at 11:27 AM · [top]

Hi Bill Witt,

I find the following two passages in Paul the most problematic – although I find the specific prohibitions in 1 Cor 14:34 and 1 Tim 2:10ff. to be significant as well - regarding women’s ordination, especially to the episcopate as that is considered the “head of heads” of Christian ministry.

1 Cor 11: 3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

In both these cases, Paul is drawing an analogy from the Trinitarian nature of God or the incorporation of the church in Christ to men’s and women’s roles. This is not the OT law but teaching based specifically on the NT revelation. It may be related to the church’s subsequent openness to charismatic leadership by women but closedness to female orders.

[16] Posted by Stephen Noll on 1-29-2009 at 11:53 AM · [top]

Re #15: not quite: Our earliest source says that the office of the Bishop was created by the apostles.
From <A HREF=“http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xliv.html”>

The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit,  to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture in a certain place, “I will appoint their bishops   in righteousness, and their deacons   in faith.”

And later in the same epistle,

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.

The Bishops can be thought of successors of the apostles in the sense that the office was established by the apostles to perform some of the functions of the apostle and is regulated by instructions given by the apostles (for example ``other approved men [Does anyone know which Greek word was used here; I haven’t been able to find a Greek text of 1 Clement online] should succeed them in their ministry.”)

[17] Posted by Boring Bloke on 1-29-2009 at 11:54 AM · [top]

Sorry, I should preview my posts before submitting them

[18] Posted by Boring Bloke on 1-29-2009 at 11:55 AM · [top]

William Witt @ #6:

“Opposition to women’s ordination does not follow from these arguments.  Rather, the arguments provide a rationalization for a position previously embraced.”

I think there’s merit in that statement.  The problem is, it’s a position that is not only fully consistent with Scripture, but one that’s “previously embraced” because it was given by Christ to His Apostles.  Whether we can explain a given direction given by Our Lord isn’t relevant to our decision to follow it.  This is a difficult concept for much of contemporary Anglicanism, which seems to have the ethos that, “if I can come up with an explanation for a Biblical principal that satisfies me, I’ll follow it” – to grasp.

[19] Posted by Phil on 1-29-2009 at 12:16 PM · [top]

re: Stephen Noll [16]

The definition of ‘head’ (gk: kephale) in those verses is highly disputed.  Does it mean ‘authority’, ‘source’, or ‘foremost’?  I wrote an exegesis paper on 1 Cor 11:3 in order to find out (to the best of my ability) how that verse influenced the women’s ordination debate.  People often read into that passage their prior commitments, whether regarding the Trinity or gender.  (E.g. Witt refers to Grudem who maintains the eternal subordination of the Son which syncs with his view of gender roles.)  I think kephale as ‘authority’ (Grudem) does not fit with the rest of the passage, nor does kephale as ‘source’ (Fee).  I think Thiselton’s assessment is the most robust (kephale as ‘foremost’), but even this has some problems.  I was disappointed that at the end of my research I could not come up with anything better than that the translation for kephale is ‘preeminence’ or ‘foremost’ rather than the more referenced ‘authority over’ or ‘source,’ and that (unfortunately) various Trinitarian theologizing has obscured understanding as much as it has uncovered the meaning of “man is the kephale of woman.”

In Christ,
Josh+

[20] Posted by henrymoustache on 1-29-2009 at 01:01 PM · [top]

William Witt, I always appreciate your contributions here. You educate me.

“Opposition to women’s ordination does not follow from these arguments.  Rather, the arguments provide a rationalization for a position previously embraced.”

Perhaps this is often true. But when I entered seminary and saw such sensitivity about the subject I decided to read further and decide for myself. Reflecting on the theological writings of others on both sides of the issue, I was convinced of the rightness of an all male priesthood. Both the catholic (representative) and evangelical (headship) arguments resonate with me as biblical. The innovative (justice) argument rings hollow and seems to impose a modern western mindsight onto the biblical record.

Also, my time in the healing ministry working with those suffering from severe sexual confusion (homosexuality, etc.), learning about who we are as men and women, has especially solidified my opinions.

Perhaps there are a lot of arguments on both sides that come from previously decided opinions. There is nothing new under the sun. But that is likely more the case now because of modern society’s confusion over god given sexual identity and the lack of brave theological reflection by the likes of godly scholars.

[21] Posted by Mana Holman on 1-29-2009 at 01:29 PM · [top]

From a former proponent of the ordination of women, who after much experience in the healing ministry, prayer and scripture study, has come to believe that it is not what the Lord intended…. I have appreciated reading the article and the comments which followed.  I pray that this issue is resolved within the new province in a way that glorifies God and serves to strengthen the body.

[22] Posted by Liz Forman on 1-29-2009 at 02:32 PM · [top]

David,
Yours is the exact argument I’ve always given in this instance.  Glad to hear it from someone more learned in such things than I.

[23] Posted by evan miller on 1-29-2009 at 03:41 PM · [top]

I remember some years back when poor John Boswell, trying to support his claim that opposition to homosexual imitations of copulation was a recent phenomenon wound up digging under a lot of old furniture in obscure corners of the Eastern Church and - viola!- unearthed what he claimed were same-sex rites.  Well, yeah, sort of, but when the laughter died down so - rightly I think - did the Boswellian poking around in obscure corners of history to buttress an ideological claim.

I’m put in mind of that incident every time the Junia/Junias argument comes up.  Granted, Romans 16 is not exactly obscure, but then again the Feast of St. Junia/Junias ain’t exactly a Red Letter Day, either.  I think it tells us something that WO advocates have to dredge this one up.  Yes, as Dr. Witt reminds us, the arguments in favor of the all-male priesthood are not terribly strong and different people make different and sometimes conflicting arguments, but weak is not the same thing as invalid.  Where are the arguments in favor of WO?  Where is the practice buttressed in scripture or anywhere else?

We know that Christian antisemitism, to name one venerable tradition that we do well to jettison, is profoundly unbiblical and even in a way anti-Christian (Jacques Maritain made a solid case, as I recall), but where is there compelling evidence that 2000 years’ worth of saints, sages, prophets, apostles, and martyrs were all wrong about the male-only priesthood?  Where is there evidence that God ever made a single attempt in that time to call His people to do His will, supposing that He always wanted women to be ordained?  Where is the prophetic voice of the 5th Century? Of the 12th century?  Of the Reformer, Schoolman, Benedictine, Mendicant, or anybody else before the late 20th century when ideological feminism became so lodged in the popular mind that the question became utterly inevitable - and lacking in Christian pedigree? 

If we’re not going to bear false witness against our brethren who have gone before, then we’d best have compelling evidence either that they were wrong or that something changed or that candidacy for ordination is a matter for the Church and not necessarily the result of a specific call of God, for then our forbears carry a heavy burden of guilt.  I see no evidence to speak of and the Junia/Junias argument seems to me to demonstrate what a weak reed WO hangs on.

[24] Posted by Daniel Muth on 1-29-2009 at 04:23 PM · [top]

Nevertheless, it does seem that one’s understanding of the correct reading of the text is influenced by one’s starting assumptions.  That is, that women cannot be an apostle in the since that Paul was.  I am somewhat amused that the ambiguity in the translation falls away when Junia is translated as Junius and it only arises when we have a female, Junia.

I don’t remember arguing that the ambiguity falls away is Junia is actually Junius.
I don’t think Junius was an apostle as Paul was, for exactly the same reasons outlined above.

[25] Posted by David Ould on 1-29-2009 at 04:36 PM · [top]

Would it have ruined your article to leave out that snide comment?  I doubt it.

Well, I don’t think it was snide. I was simply trying to be clear about who I was writing to.
And don’t you think it is true that there is a segment for whom Scriptual argument is , at best, optional? My experience has certainly taught me that.

[26] Posted by David Ould on 1-29-2009 at 04:43 PM · [top]

(#17) Link for Greek of 1 Clement follows:
http://earlychristianwritings.com/1clement.html

[27] Posted by Wren King on 1-29-2009 at 05:00 PM · [top]

Rather, the arguments provide a rationalization for a position previously embraced.

Dr Witt, this is very possibly true.

However, it is also true that we have no convincing evidence of women serving as presbyters or bishops in the subapostolic church, and in fact have proscriptions against their serving as such in the patristic church.*  The previously embraced position in this case is that of historic catholic practice.  Given that history, it is incumbent on those who support ordaining women to make strong arguments that do not turn on disputed interpretations of single verses of Scripture.  If we trust the patristic church to interpret the Scriptures rightly with regard to the person of Jesus Christ and the trinitarian being of God, then we should also trust them to interpret the Scriptures rightly with regard to those who should be ordained to the presbyterate and the episcopate.

*No doubt someone with bring to bear the canon of the regional Council of Laodicea that forbids women in the presbyterate as evidence of women presbyters, thus as evidence that the patristic church was actually suppressing a practice of the apostolic and subapostolic church.  This would ignore the context of the council itself;  viz., its proximity to Phrygia (ground zero of the Montanist heresy, with that movement’s high-visibility women prophets and leaders) and the fact that presbyters were not necessarily sacramental ministers in the fourth century, particularly in smaller cities and towns where the bishop still presided over a single church and celebrated the eucharist every Sunday amongst that one church.  It could well be that churches in the vicinity of Laodicea, through Montanist influence, had women who sat (as presbyters?) with the presbyters in the apse of the church around the bishop in the eucharistic assembly, and that this practice - not an apostolic one - is what the canon was promulgated against.

[28] Posted by Todd Granger on 1-29-2009 at 07:12 PM · [top]

Not so long ago I and many others contributed to a very substantial SF thread on ACNA and women bishops. I (namesake the NT Priscilla) posted a lot of material, and links to more. It would be iluminating if someone cleverer than me could link to that very thorough discussion. It is still my conclusion, and that of many more venerable Anglican leaders, that we may consecrate women, but at the present time in Anglicanism are wise not to.

It took the Church 16 centuries to see that torture even in a good cause was wrong, and even longer to get the NT message about slavery. To say that our forebears were blind and deaf to the demands of the Gospel in those matters is to speak of blindness and deafness, not deliberate sin. In the case of torture, the text viewed as sanctioning it was compelle intrare, and Dominical.

Even so I believe that the position of women in and out of church has until about a century ago been clouded by wrong assumptions. That is not the same as deliberate disobedience. An all-male presbyterate may perhaps have been an Apostolic assumption; but it cannot be shown to have been an Apostolic doctrine. To quote passages which deny leadership to men who are not monogamous has nothing to do with the case. As a culture, we are blind and deaf to the demands of the Gospel when it comes to chastity: all of us, pro or anti WO, need to see how central that demand was and is to our obedience.

[29] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 1-29-2009 at 07:28 PM · [top]


It took the Church 16 centuries to see that torture even in a good cause was wrong, and even longer to get the NT message about slavery.

Why is this continually repeated as though there is only one side to the discussion? There certainly were some who argued for slavery even in medieval and patristic times, but they were fighting against the flow of the Church. Slavery was abolished in mediaeval (and earlier) Europe by the Catholic church, no matter how many historical revisionists try to claim that it was a continuous practice until the 19th century. The Atlantic slave trade was the aberration, not the tradition.

A few examples:
Chrysostom:

Think not, he would say, that what is done towards a servant, He will therefore forgive, because done to a servant. Heathen laws indeed as being the laws of men, recognize a difference between these kinds of offences. But the law of the common Lord and Master of all, as doing good to all alike, and dispensing the same rights to all, knows no such difference.

But should any one ask, whence is slavery, and why it has found entrance into human life, (and many I know are both glad to ask such questions, and desirous to be informed of them,) I will tell you. Slavery is the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery; since Noah, we know, had no servant, nor had Abel, nor Seth, no, nor they who came after them. The thing was the fruit of sin, of rebellion against parents. Let children hearken to this, that whenever they are undutiful to their parents, they deserve to be servants. Such a child strips himself of his nobility of birth; for he who rebels against his father is no longer a son; and if he who rebels against his father is not a son, how shall he be a son who rebels against our true Father? He has departed from his nobility of birth, he has done outrage to nature. Then come also wars, and battles, and take their prisoners. Well, but Abraham, you will say, had servants. Yes, but he used them not as servants.

Council of London, 1102 (I could cite earlier councils, but this is dearest to me):

27. Let no one presume for the future to enter into that nefarious business by which they were accustomed hitherto to sell men like brute animals in England.

Pope Paul II (1537) (at the start of the Atlantic slave trade):

...The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good… Seeing this and envying it, the enemy of the human race, who always opposes all good men so that the race may perish, has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving word of God from being preached to the nations. He (Satan) has stirred up some of his allies who, desiring to satisfy their own avarice, are presuming to assert far and wide that the Indians…be reduced to our service like brute animals, under the pretext that they are lacking the Catholic faith. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions they would scarcely use with brute animals… by our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians and all other peoples - even though they are outside the faith - ...should not be deprived of their liberty… Rather they are to be able to use and enjoy this liberty and this ownership of property freely and licitly, and are not to be reduced to slavery.

[30] Posted by Boring Bloke on 1-30-2009 at 05:04 AM · [top]

All too quickly to respond to Stephen Noll and Todd Granger, who (not suprisingly form what I know of them) echo the two very different traditions of Evangelical and Catholic.  (Evangelical arguments about the ordination of women typically focus on particular biblical texts, specifically the four that Stephen has noted.  Catholic (meaning Orthodox, Roman and Anglo-Catholic) focus on church tradition.

On the biblical questions, I have found most helpful the discussions in:

Ben Witherington, Women and the Genesis of Christianity (Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Richard Hays’s discussion of Paul in his The Moral Vision of the New Testament (Harper, 1996).

Some of the essays in Gordon D. Fee, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy (IVP, 2004).

John Howard Yoder’s discuss of “revolutionary subordination” and the Haustafeln (household codes) in Eph. 5:21-6:9, Col. 3: 18-4:1, Tit. 2:1-10, 1 Pet. 2:18-3:7.

On headship, there are at least two concerns. First, there has been a very heated discussion of the meaning of kephale (head) (1 Cor. 11:3, Eph. 5: 23) in the last few decades, with scholars like Wayne Grudem arguing that it can only mean “authority,” while scholars like Gordon Fee arguing that it means “source,” with others arguing for something like “prominent” or “topmost.”  Fee notes that the two earliest patristic discussions (found in Chrysoston and Cyril of Alexandria) do not interpret kephale to mean “authority.”  Chrysostom argues against the notion that it means “subjection.”  Otherwise, Paul would have brought in the metaphor slave and master, not husband and wife.  Cyril argues in terms of source, suggesting that the parallel between God and Christ and man and woman arises because every man is created by Christ (as God), and every woman is taken out of man (from the side of Adam).  Fee argues that “Despite repeated assertions to the contrary, nothing that is said [in the 1 Corinthians passage] hints at an authority-subordination relationship.” 

Another crucial question is whether the passage is to be interpreted as referring to men and women in general, or, to husbands and wives in particular.  (I have noticed that the new ESV translates the passage as the “head of a wife is her husband”).  If the passage is speaking of marital roles, it is not apparent what relevance (if any) it has to women in office.

On 1 Cor. 14:34 and 1 Tim. 2:12, there are several issues that must be addressed:

Is this a universal prohibition or does it apply to a specific concrete situation?

Against the notion of a universal prohibition would be a sheer contradiction between 1 Cor. 14:34 and 1 Cor. 11:5.  If women were prophesying, they were speaking.  Also against a universal prohibition is the significant role that women played in Paul’s ministry.  Witherington and Hays point out that, in the early church, women were “prophets,” “deacons,” “co-workers,” leaders of house churches.  These roles seemed to have been shared equally by men and women.  Some women (like Priscilla) seem to have taken the leading role in a teaching ministry.

Hays believes that the 1 Cor. 14:34 passage is so inconsistent with what Paul says otherwise that it has to have been an interpolation.  Witherington accepts it as authentic, but argues (convincingly, I think) that Paul is addressing the specific situation at Corinth, that is, not a prohibition of all women speaking—some were indeed prophesying, and Paul approved—but of particular women who were speaking out of turn or in some inappropriate way, and disrupting worship.

Witherington argues similarly that 1 Tim. 2:10 has the meaning of “I am not permitting” (present tense).  The Greek does not imply a permanent prohibition.  Others point to rather misleading modern translations of didaskein (“exercise authority”).  Earlier translations translate the passage as:

“I do not permit a woman . . . to dominate a man (neque dominari viro) (Old Latin and Vulgate)

“I permit not a woman to . . . . usurpe authoritie ouer the man (Geneva, Bishops Bible, KJV)

“domineer over man” (NEB, 1961)

“dictate to the men” (REB, 1989)

So much for some of the biblical questions.

[31] Posted by William Witt on 1-30-2009 at 06:15 PM · [top]

Some slight corrections:

The controversial verb in 1 Tim. 2:10 is not didaskein (teach), but authentein (excercise authority).  The question is whether it should be translated as “dominate.”

The particular John Howard Yoder argument about household codes is in The Politics of Jesus (1994, 2nd. ed).  Yoder argues that the signficance of the household codes (in Eph. 5) and elsewhere is in their addressing those in what would have been subordinate positions in ancient cultures (slaves, women, and children) as moral agents who actually have to make a choice to be subject.  Pagan writers would have addressed those who held power, but would have considered slaves, women, and children, as beneath instruction.  The other significant difference is that the commands are reciprocal.  The powerful are addressed equally with the subordinate, and instructed to act with gentleness and authority.  Moreover, mutual subordination is expected of both groups.  Finally, the roles are given gospel warrants, e.g., the relationship between Christ and the church.  To view these texts as perpetuating hierarchy is, thus, a misreading.  Rather, they subordinated, and challenged a previous hierarchy.  The texts are not egalitarian, yet they subvert hierarchy by introducing Christian love and an equality of dignity not only to the powerful, but also to the subordinate.

This is a common pattern in the gospel to which I have applied the term “Christological subversion.”  The gospel accepts common notions of the culture (Sovereignty, Fatherhood, Power), but redefines and subverts them in the light of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  (For example, Jesus is the “King of the Jews,” who reigns from the cross-the Lion of Judah who is the Lamb of God.)

[32] Posted by William Witt on 1-30-2009 at 06:55 PM · [top]

Finishing up with Todd Granger.  You are correct that there is no evidence that the patristic (or Medieval or Reformation era!) church(es) consecrated women as presbyters or bishops.  The question is why.

The best discussion of this I have found is in a article by Stephen Sykes in Unashamed Anglicanism (Abingdon, 1995), entitled “Richard Hooker and the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood.”  Sykes argues (and documents persuasively) that a single argument is given repeatedly in the history of the churich as to why women cannot be ordained to the priesthood:  Women are inferior to men, lacking in intelligence, and incapable of exercising authority responsibly.  This argument appears repeatedly—it is, for example, in both Aquinas and Hooker—and is used not only to bar women from the priesthood, but from any occupation where they might have authority.  Hooker, for example, does not argue that women should not be ordained.  He argues rather that they should not be allowed to teach or exercise authority over men at all—not just in the church.  (How he reconciled this with his obedience to Good Queen Bess is not clear.)

Sykes points out that this argument is not one that is echoed comfortably in contemporary thinkers.  (Rather, it is not echoed at all.) All contemporary mainline churches have quietly abandoned the previous historic position of their churches concerning the inferiority of women, and now embrace a position of equality of the sexes—including the Roman Catholic Church, which has released official encyclicals affirming this.  This, in fact, represents a genuinely new doctrinal development. 

Because the churches no longer support the previous theology about women, they can no longer use the old arguments, either. In my opinion, one of the reason for the incoherence and mutual contradictory arguments that one finds in current debates against women’s ordination is that there are no historic theological arguments on which traditionalists can rely—except for the one they can no longer use.  So the arguments themselves are new—and thus also doctrinal developments, and not historic “tradition” at all.

[33] Posted by William Witt on 1-30-2009 at 07:14 PM · [top]

No discussion of Romans 16:7 can afford to ignore this tour de force:
Eldon Jay Epp, “Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7,” in New Testament and Textual Criticism and Exegesis, (ed. A. Denaux; Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2002), 227-91. 

Rather technical and altogether painstaking, but also indispensable and fascinating for those having the patience to weigh the evidence and follow the argument.

A revision, popularization, and update can be found in idem,  Junia: The First Woman Apostle (Minneapolis: Fortres, 2005).

A careful study of either would quickly expose the flaws of Ould’s arguments above, though even this definitive exegesis of Rom 16:7 does not in itself establish the propriety of ordaining women to the priesthood or consecration to the episcopate.

[34] Posted by Occasional Reader on 1-30-2009 at 09:09 PM · [top]

Having contributed on a large scale to the recent thread on ACNA and Women Bishops, and having been burgled at home this afternoon (handbag and entire contents taken from the front hall!), the most I can do now is post yet again my article The Chief NT WO Texts, with the plea that this and my earlier contributions be re-read, or read for the first time, as the case may be. There are some good minds with scholarly equipment here besides mine.

[35] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 1-30-2009 at 10:04 PM · [top]

David Ould,

1.  First, I was a little confused.  Why did you choose the NIV “Junias” (“for reasons that will become apparent”), the masculine name (unattested though it is), when later you say you are quite sure that Junia/s is a woman (i.e., Junia)?  I don’t follow your line of thinking.
 
2.  While you are quite right to say that not every use of apostolos bears a technical meaning referring to those recognized as holding an authoritative office, the etymological argument with apostellw will just not work.  More relevant is this question: can you find in Paul an articular plural reference to “the apostles” which bears anything but precisely the technical sense which you deny?  The answer is, no.  Always the articular plural “apostles” refers to a defined group of authoritative leaders (not just “messengers”) which is inclusive of, but not necessarily limited to, the Twelve (plus Paul). 

3.  As to the question of whether it is grammatically required to regard Andronicus and Junia as included within the “apostles” or simply respected by them, I would only point out that (a) it is first semester Greek to note that, lacking any other qualification, en + personal plural dative regularly means “among . . .” rather than “in . . .”; (b) there is no instance in Pauline usage in which the preposition en with a dative personal object means something like “by . . .” (unless this alone is it); (c) as pointed out above, for as long as Junia was Junias (a male) it never occurred to any reader of Greek that the phrase referred to the regard for A & J as non-apostles by those who were apostles; (d) that (c) is the case is demonstrated by the fact that editors of the Greek text and translators made Junia into a man precisely because the “plain sense” of the grammar included Junia/s “among the apostles.”  Otherwise, there is simply no explanation for how a name never attested to as masculine became masculine other than the obvious problem of the exegetical implications if she were Junia (a well attested female name).  Thus, the textual history of Rom 16:7 is telling a story which your implausible analysis above ignores entirely.

[36] Posted by Occasional Reader on 1-30-2009 at 10:44 PM · [top]

OR:

A careful study of either would quickly expose the flaws of Ould’s arguments above, though even this definitive exegesis of Rom 16:7 does not in itself establish the propriety of ordaining women to the priesthood or consecration to the episcopate.

That may be the case, but since I have access to neither at the moment would you care you outline the essence of the argument that breaks open what I have written?

1.  First, I was a little confused.  Why did you choose the NIV “Junias” (“for reasons that will become apparent”), the masculine name (unattested though it is), when later you say you are quite sure that Junia/s is a woman (i.e., Junia)?  I don’t follow your line of thinking.

I’m sorry, I had not been clear enough. I chose the NIV because it rendered “outstanding amongst the apostles” which I thought was the loosest possible way of translating επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοισ

2.  While you are quite right to say that not every use of apostolos bears a technical meaning referring to those recognized as holding an authoritative office, the etymological argument with apostellw will just not work.  More relevant is this question: can you find in Paul an articular plural reference to “the apostles” which bears anything but precisely the technical sense which you deny?  The answer is, no.  Always the articular plural “apostles” refers to a defined group of authoritative leaders (not just “messengers”) which is inclusive of, but not necessarily limited to, the Twelve (plus Paul). 

Yes, that is the case if you only restrict yourself to the particular plural of the noun. As soon as one looks further, to both plural and singular and also the cognate verb it becomes quite clear that a variety of uses may be understood. I am not arguing that it is definitely one way or another, simply that it is utterly overstating one’s case to suggest that it is certainly the “greater” sense of “Apostle” that is being used. As others have also pointed out, it would be a strange way for Paul to use such a term for He normally brings in the argument of Apostles when he has a particular point about authority to make. Others, of course, may suggest that at this point I am simply begging the question. The reader must decide.

3.  As to the question of whether it is grammatically required to regard Andronicus and Junia as included within the “apostles” or simply respected by them, I would only point out that (a) it is first semester Greek to note that, lacking any other qualification, en + personal plural dative regularly means “among . . .” rather than “in . . .”;
(b) there is no instance in Pauline usage in which the preposition en with a dative personal object means something like “by . . .” (unless this alone is it);

That’s not quite true. Similar meanings (although not necessarily with personal nouns - I’m not quite sure why you need to make that distinction except that it’s the only way to make your case) occur in
Rom 1:5, particularly similar in Rom 2:24 (although this time in a negative sense) and the same dative construction is used by Paul in 14:18 “approved amongst men” - adjective, then tois and the dative plural noun, <u>exactly</u> as it is in Rom. 16:7.
Thus even in Romans itself, Paul uses similar and even identical constructions to communicate the same basic ideas. Granted, not with a personal noun, but with impersonal ones. (FWIW, Bibleworks doesn’t parse apostolos as a personal noun - it’s not the final say on the matter but it is some indication that you may be being a little restrictive.

(c) as pointed out above, for as long as Junia was Junias (a male) it never occurred to any reader of Greek that the phrase referred to the regard for A & J as non-apostles by those who were apostles; (d) that (c) is the case is demonstrated by the fact that editors of the Greek text and translators made Junia into a man precisely because the “plain sense” of the grammar included Junia/s “among the apostles.” Otherwise, there is simply no explanation for how a name never attested to as masculine became masculine other than the obvious problem of the exegetical implications if she were Junia (a well attested female name).  Thus, the textual history of Rom 16:7 is telling a story which your implausible analysis above ignores entirely.

Well, I’m not as learned as you on this, it seems. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that they have made a mistake on this matter. After all, if you are willing to suggest that the church catholic has got the wider issue wrong for almost 2000 years then you must also concede that this smaller understanding could be wrong too - just in the opposite direction.

btw, (and certainly not wanting to put you down) do you really mean ‘textual history’? I think you mean the history of interpretation of this text. The text itself has only one known variant- that of ιουλιαν in P46 and a small number of other texts.

[37] Posted by David Ould on 1-31-2009 at 12:59 AM · [top]

DO:

Thanks for your substantive and thoughtful reply. Point by point.

OR:

  A careful study of either would quickly expose the flaws of Ould’s arguments above, though even this definitive exegesis of Rom 16:7 does not in itself establish the propriety of ordaining women to the priesthood or consecration to the episcopate.

That may be the case, but since I have access to neither at the moment would you care you outline the essence of the argument that breaks open what I have written?

There is probably too much to summarize, but I tried to raise some of the salient points (not all Epp’s) in second post.  Epp’s particular contribution is a survey of the history of the text, its translation and interpretation. 

I’m sorry, I had not been clear enough. I chose the NIV because it rendered “outstanding amongst the apostles” which I thought was the loosest possible way of translating επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοισ

Ah, I see.  I completely missed your point.  My bad.

ME
  2.  While you are quite right to say that not every use of apostolos bears a technical meaning referring to those recognized as holding an authoritative office, the etymological argument with apostellw will just not work.  More relevant is this question: can you find in Paul an articular plural reference to “the apostles” which bears anything but precisely the technical sense which you deny?  The answer is, no.  Always the articular plural “apostles” refers to a defined group of authoritative leaders (not just “messengers”) which is inclusive of, but not necessarily limited to, the Twelve (plus Paul). 
YOU
Yes, that is the case if you only restrict yourself to the particular plural of the noun. As soon as one looks further, to both plural and singular and also the cognate verb it becomes quite clear that a variety of uses may be understood. I am not arguing that it is definitely one way or another, simply that it is utterly overstating one’s case to suggest that it is certainly the “greater” sense of “Apostle” that is being used. As others have also pointed out, it would be a strange way for Paul to use such a term for He normally brings in the argument of Apostles when he has a particular point about authority to make. Others, of course, may suggest that at this point I am simply begging the question. The reader must decide.

 
My point is simply that as a matter of method we would compare like expressions, syntactically speaking.  I acknowledge your point about the broader use of apostolos (including your examples), I simply think the evidence does not support that Paul ever uses this broader definition when referring to a defined group (i.e., the articular plural).  We must allow for the possibility of anomalous expressions, but one must know when he is exegetically kicking against the goads.

ME
  3.  As to the question of whether it is grammatically required to regard Andronicus and Junia as included within the “apostles” or simply respected by them, I would only point out that (a) it is first semester Greek to note that, lacking any other qualification, en + personal plural dative regularly means “among . . .” rather than “in . . .”;
  (b) there is no instance in Pauline usage in which the preposition en with a dative personal object means something like “by . . .” (unless this alone is it);
YOU
That’s not quite true. Similar meanings (although not necessarily with personal nouns - I’m not quite sure why you need to make that distinction except that it’s the only way to make your case) occur in
Rom 1:5, particularly similar in Rom 2:24 (although this time in a negative sense) and the same dative construction is used by Paul in 14:18 “approved amongst men” - adjective, then tois and the dative plural noun, exactly as it is in Rom. 16:7.
Thus even in Romans itself, Paul uses similar and even identical constructions to communicate the same basic ideas. Granted, not with a personal noun, but with impersonal ones. (FWIW, Bibleworks doesn’t parse apostolos as a personal noun - it’s not the final say on the matter but it is some indication that you may be being a little restrictive.

I think you’re simply mistaken altogether here.  Both Rom 1:5 and 2:24 (“among . . . the Gentiles”) bear precisely the sense I am arguing for and the opposite of what you assert. (I am thinking here of your statement that “there is no convincing reason in the grammar alone to demand it”).  These expressions were exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of which show “by the apostles” to be improbable. You would have a better case with 14:18, but, as you know, this is not a prepositional phrase, so not analogous to our example in 16:7.

As for my restriction to “personal nouns” (not a category Bibleworks makes—they only distinguish between “proper” and “common” nouns), the reason is clear upon the basis of Greek grammar. As you well know, datives (with or without the preposition en) are used instrumentally, but this would not be customary for persons (agents).  So I will acknowledge numerous en + instrumental datives, but I do not see examples in Paul of en + dative agents.

ME
c) as pointed out above, for as long as Junia was Junias (a male) it never occurred to any reader of Greek that the phrase referred to the regard for A & J as non-apostles by those who were apostles; (d) that (c) is the case is demonstrated by the fact that editors of the Greek text and translators made Junia into a man precisely because the “plain sense” of the grammar included Junia/s “among the apostles.” Otherwise, there is simply no explanation for how a name never attested to as masculine became masculine other than the obvious problem of the exegetical implications if she were Junia (a well attested female name).  Thus, the textual history of Rom 16:7 is telling a story which your implausible analysis above ignores entirely.
YOU
Well, I’m not as learned as you on this, it seems. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that they have made a mistake on this matter. After all, if you are willing to suggest that the church catholic has got the wider issue wrong for almost 2000 years then you must also concede that this smaller understanding could be wrong too - just in the opposite direction.

As it regards the “wider issue,” I was clear in my conclusion to the post recommending Epp’s works.  Of course, Rom 16:7 does not establish woman’s ordination.  You simply started here in your series of articles, and I thought it was important to point out that your exegesis of this text was not persuasive.

btw, (and certainly not wanting to put you down) do you really mean ‘textual history’? I think you mean the history of interpretation of this text. The text itself has only one known variant- that of ιουλιαν in P46 and a small number of other texts.

Thank you for this observation; in general you are correct, however “textual history” is still an apt descriptor for those later MSS in which accentuation had become conventional.  (I also meant to allude to the history of the printed and critical text, but you are right that “textual history” is not the best way to refer to this.)  I should have made my point more clearly.  Thank you.

[38] Posted by Occasional Reader on 1-31-2009 at 10:09 AM · [top]

Hey William Witt—I note with interest your comments about “women are inferior” arguments given by others down through history.

But couldn’t that be counted as “the culture they swam in” and those arguments be discounted while the substantive ones counted?

Surely all arguments about whatever can’t be discounted because those arguers were sexist?  Of course they were.

[39] Posted by Sarah on 1-31-2009 at 11:43 AM · [top]

Regarding Epp’s “tour de force” - a rather underwhelming one, according to one ecclesiastical historian/professor with whom I am acquainted - one might also read John Hunwicke’s review of Epp’s book:
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=21-08-022-f

Replying to Dr Witt, and tagging onto what Sarah has written:  but, Dr Witt, are you saying that the apostles or their immediate disciples trotted out the cultural “women are inferior” argument to deny presbyteral-episcopal ordination or appointment to them?  The mere fact of a later misunderstanding of human ontology wouldn’t invalidate apostolic (and immediate subapostolic) practice that had some other (right) basis, would it?

(Not that biography matters in such discussions, but one of the reasons that I left the Southern Baptists was a couple of Convention’s pronouncements against ordaining women as pastors and deacons.  Subsequently, first as a Presbyterian and then an Episcopalian, I was a firm supporter of women in the pastorate and the presbyterate.  In recent years, though, I’ve come to have considerable misgivings with the practice of ordaining women to these ministries as a result of reconsidering the arguments both for and against.)

With others, I suggest that the burden is still on those who would change the practice, even accounting for the change in theology.  It seems to me that any New Testament evidence for women in apostolic or presbyteral-episcopal leadership is too controverted (as David points out in the essay that started this thread) to base a seachange in ministerial/sacramental practice on it.

[40] Posted by Todd Granger on 1-31-2009 at 08:19 PM · [top]

OR, thanks for the detailed reply. Let me try and continue to address what you’re saying.

My point is simply that as a matter of method we would compare like expressions, syntactically speaking.  I acknowledge your point about the broader use of apostolos (including your examples), I simply think the evidence does not support that Paul ever uses this broader definition when referring to a defined group (i.e., the articular plural).  We must allow for the possibility of anomalous expressions, but one must know when he is exegetically kicking against the goads.

Thanks for kicking back against this. I realise that I hadn’t properly addressed what you were arguing, namely that Paul, in every other place, uses articular forms of αποστολοσ to refer to the Apostles (with a big A!). Granted, that is true. As you say it is possible for him to change his usage here but I think you are correct that the more likely reading is Apostles.
however,

I think you’re simply mistaken altogether here.  Both Rom 1:5 and 2:24 (“among . . . the Gentiles”) bear precisely the sense I am arguing for and the opposite of what you assert. (I am thinking here of your statement that “there is no convincing reason in the grammar alone to demand it”).  These expressions were exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of which show “by the apostles” to be improbable. You would have a better case with 14:18, but, as you know, this is not a prepositional phrase, so not analogous to our example in 16:7.

Again, granted that 1:5 and 2:24 are weaker. But I think you overstate your case with 14:18 by insisting that since it is not a prepositional phrase it is not analogous or relevant.
Consider the two:
14:18 ...δοκιμος τοισ ανθροποις
16:7 ...επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοις

The structures are pretty much identical. An adjective followed by the object in the dative. In 14:18 this goes to speak to the reception of the subject amongst men, and so again in 16:7 it is entirely plausible that the same structure may be used in the same way by the same author. In 14:18 the indicative of ειμι which precedes in 16:7 is obviously assumed. The phrases might function in exactly the same way in both sentences.

Thanks for your comments on this. ISTM (and I have some experience but obviously not as much as yourself) that the text is ambiguous for a number of reasons that we have discussed and so it’s hardly the place to begin building a lock-tight case for women’s consecration.

[41] Posted by David Ould on 1-31-2009 at 11:47 PM · [top]

David, thanks for carrying on the conversation.

Again, granted that 1:5 and 2:24 are weaker. But I think you overstate your case with 14:18 by insisting that since it is not a prepositional phrase it is not analogous or relevant.
Consider the two:
14:18 ...δοκιμος τοισ ανθροποις
16:7 ...επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοις

The structures are pretty much identical. An adjective followed by the object in the dative. In 14:18 this goes to speak to the reception of the subject amongst men, and so again in 16:7 it is entirely plausible that the same structure may be used in the same way by the same author. In 14:18 the indicative of ειμι which precedes in 16:7 is obviously assumed. The phrases might function in exactly the same way in both sentences.

I continue to think that this is not an analogous example.  As you know, prepositions determine the case of the object, so as a matter of principle, we do not weigh the case determined by a preposition in the same way we weigh case which is undetermined.  14:18 and 16:7 just aren’t parallel to each other—the self-contradictory “pretty much identical” kind of says it all.  Again, I know of no Pauline use of en + a dative personal noun which means something like what you are suggesting.  We might just have to disagree on the significance of the preposition in this case, but I would think that you bear the burden of proof for insisting that they are substantive parallels.

So I remain persuaded that (1) Junia was a woman; (2) that, with Andronicus (presumably her husband), she is included among “the apostles,” a defined group of primitive church leaders, including, but larger than, the Twelve + Paul; (3) that Andronicus and Junia were “well-known” or “highly regarded” members of that circle.  That they were Paul’s Jewish “kinsmen” and “in Christ” before Paul is consistent with that interpretation, allowing, if not quite requiring, that they would have been witnesses of the resurrected Christ, if not also his followers prior to the crucifixion (on which see R. Bauckham’s interesting surmise).  (4) I don’t think this settles anything definitively about the ecclesial roles of women, but it is at least a datum to take into consideration.

[42] Posted by Occasional Reader on 2-1-2009 at 01:24 AM · [top]

Todd Granger, you might notice upon re-reading my post that I described the Epp article in the A. Denaux ed. FS as the “tour de force.”  I stand by that, though perhaps when you read it, you will not agree.  I thought I was quite clear in distinguishing the two publications and in characterizing the book accurately.  At any rate, it is innocent of the publisher’s hype and rhetorical bluster with which J. Hunwicke takes exception in his Touchstone review of the book. Hunwicke himself is apparently not aware of the article, for he cites a recent (2005) L. Bellville study as though it had “scooped” Epp, which is clearly not the case.  You will also notice that there is actually very little in the review that takes issue with very much of what is in the Epp book, at least as it concerns the exegesis of Rom 16:7; that is, until the reviewer launches into an ill-advised series of contemporary English (!) arguments regarding our use of the work “among.”  I found this line of argument rather stunning, to say the least.  When one preaches to the Touchstone choir on this sort of issue it is easy to be careless, I suppose.

I continue to affirm that Rom 16:7 settles nothing regarding the roles of women in churchly leadership.  It is but one datum worthy of consideration, and I only stuck my nose in here because I felt that D. Ould had not succeeded exegetically in his initial post.  I continue to think that Epp’s article would be helpful.

[43] Posted by Occasional Reader on 2-1-2009 at 01:52 AM · [top]

14:18 ...δοκιμος τοισ ανθροποις
16:7 ...επισημοι εν τοισ αποστολοις

I am still exhausted and preoccupied with practical matters here at home; but I must say that I am surprised to see that nobody has correctly identified the article in the first case as plainly of the ‘generalising’ kind, which we do not translate into English. Thus οἱ ἄνθρωποι is normally best rendered “mankind” (if we’re still allowed to write that!). The second example even though articulated might well mean no more than, literally, “conspicuous/distinguished among missionaries”, or more freely, “conspicuous/distinguished in missionary circles”. But in any case, the individual, of whichever sex, really has nothing to do with the point at issue. There were many more ‘apostles’ than Apostles, as there were many more disciples than Twelve even before the Resurrection, and nobody supposes that none of either larger group were female!

[44] Posted by Dr. Priscilla Turner on 2-1-2009 at 03:52 AM · [top]

  am still exhausted and preoccupied with practical matters here at home; but I must say that I am surprised to see that nobody has correctly identified the article in the first case as plainly of the ‘generalising’ kind, which we do not translate into English.

...

There were many more ‘apostles’ than Apostles, as there were many more disciples than Twelve even before the Resurrection, and nobody supposes that none of either larger group were female!

Well, yes and no. I think OR has correctly noted that Paul only ever uses the article with αποστολος when he is referring to the tighter definition. On the other hand it is true that Junia is the only female I can find that he refers to as αποστολος, whatever he may mean by that word.

[45] Posted by David Ould on 2-1-2009 at 05:02 AM · [top]

In seminary, I had to write a paper which was to explain why a woman could not be a priest, at first I though this was going to be an easy paper, until I reread the question, it was explaining to an evangelical why a woman cannot be a priest.  After several edit and update that thinking can be found at here .  My thinking is along the lines of spiritual authority as why women cannot be priests.  If you idea the priesthood does not have a strong sense of spiritual authority, then I will disagree with your idea of priesthood, but given your idea of priesthood, the agreements against women in that position are very weakened.

I do think there is a distinction between teaching such as in schools and preaching as part of Sunday worship.  It is interesting that in early part of the 20th century the bishops at Lambeth in recreation of the deaconesses’ office allow for the deaconess to preach, but not at the main Sunday service.  Here too albeit unstated is the idea of spiritual authority, preaching at the main Sunday service comes with strong, if only cultural, sense of authority.

[46] Posted by Scott+ on 2-1-2009 at 06:37 AM · [top]

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