I just want to say thank you to everyone who reached out through Facebook comment, blog comment, private message and text message. You all (even two out of the three people who outspokenly disagreed with me) were so loving and encouraging…a true testament to what doing this journey together should look like.
I must say, I couldn’t help but notice one thing: many, many people (men and women) are truly struggling with this “woman issue” (which I so detest to call an “issue”). So many women reached out to me saying they are wrestling and haven’t known where to look or who to talk to. And you know what’s surprising? Even MORE men have reached out to me telling me they agree, are sorry, and want to also learn more. And so to those of you who struggle and wrestle and feel like you want to dig deeper in your knowledge of Scripture, I tell you: DON’T STOP SEARCHING. Don’t stop digging. Scripture is beautiful, insightful and divine. It is an endless treasure chest that can and should be explored and enjoyed. While it is dense and theological, it is also approachable and historical. There is so. much. to learn. And don’t let that discourage you. Oh, how exciting it is as you will never get tired or bored of discovering the beautiful truths within the pages.
My journey began with lots and lots of prayer. Most of my initial findings were legitimately found by accident—reading through commentaries and textbooks assigned to me in my classes.
Things began to get a bit more serious when I took my first Greek exegesis course and learned about 1st century Palestinian culture, specifically Jewish culture. I learned how Rabbi’s and their disciples interacted, and what the story of Mary “sitting at Jesus’s feet” while Martha did housework would have actually meant to a 1st century Jew.
In my Greek exegesis of the book of Acts I learned about nuances in the languages. I learned about patron-client relationships in the ancient world, and how that affected Paul’s relationship to Lydia when he met her in Philippi.
I learned about Junia, the apostle, mentioned by Paul in Romans 16, and how her name has even gone through the measures of being changed by certain translators, adding an “S” to the end of it to make it sound like a masculine name.
I learned the details and insights into 1st century letter writing, and what it actually meant that Paul would mention “Phoebe” first in the ending of his letter to the Romans.
I learned about Greco-Roman “household codes” and why slave-master, husband-wife and father-child relationships are always mentioned as a unit in the New Testament.
I learned about the context in Ephesus—the prominent cult-worship of the goddess, Artemis, and how this provided the background of what Paul wrote in his letter(s) to Timothy.
…and I could literally go on for pages and pages and pages. I promise to get into the details of each of these points…eventually. But for now, I want to leave you with some resources:
On Women in the Ministry of Jesus I recommend Ben Witherington’s work. This was the focus of his doctoral thesis in 1980. While a hard copy of his book, Women in the Ministry of Jesus: A Study of Jesus’ Attitudes to Women and their Roles as Reflected in His Earthly Life can be quite pricey, you can find a summary of his work by clicking this link.
Ben also has some of the most renowned socio-rhetorical commentaries on the New Testament that I HIGHLY recommend when wanting to understand context in the 1st century. They can be found for sale here. He also has done extensive research on women in the early church; his book about that can be found for purchase by clicking this link.
Kenneth Bailey is the leading expert in Middle Eastern culture concerning the New Testament right now. For a general summary of what he has to say, click here.
1 Timothy info: there’s SO MUCH on this that it would take an entire post, but a general understanding of Ephesus and the cult-worship of Artemis (think of the fiasco in Acts 19), you can watch this video. Witherington also goes into some contextual exegesis here
For women in Philippi click this link.
Ahhh, Junia. This is a big one. There’s a whole lot out there which I will get into, but for now, you can start here.
Okay, that should be a good start. While it literally doesn’t even scratch the surface, it will at least get the ball rolling. As I break things up post by post I will provide more and more resources. If you’re interested in podcasts as well, let me know, as I also have great ones concerning this topic!
FYI, read these at your discretion, as many are academic writings.