Role of Women (references)

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Representative References

These references are not intended to be inclusive and they are not necessarily
recommended. They are not listed in any order of priority. Rather, they are
provided to demonstrate the range of views on the topic of the role of women
in the church.

  1. Osburn, Carroll D (ed.): Essays on Women in Earliest Christianity (Volumes
    I and II). Joplin Missouri, College Press, 1993, 1995

    The most scholarly and thorough review of the role of women in the church
    by members of the churches of Christ. Articles written by scholars from
    the Restoration movement (mostly church of Christ). Provides significant
    historical background and generally takes a close look at the historical
    context of scripture in order to render an interpretation. Addresses all
    the key passages. Generally balanced but more focused upon the historical

  2. Schussler Fiorenza, Elisabeth: But She Said. Boston, Beacon Press, 1992

    A good example of a feminist interpretation (and criticism) of the Bible.
    Schussler Firoenza is a serious scholar, yet she begins with the premise
    that since men, for the most part, wrote the sacred scriptures, the scriptures
    are “suspect” from the feminist perspective. “I seek to work
    out a process and method for a feminist political reading that can empower
    women who, for whatever reasons, are still affected by the Bible they read
    ‘against the grain’ of its patriarchal rhetoric.” Explores
    key women in the scriptures, such as Miriam, Mary Magdalene and Priscilla.

  3. Rowland, Robert H: “I Permit Not a Woman…” To Remain Shackled.
    Corona, CA, Lighthouse Publishing Company, 1991

    An elder and former faculty member at Oklahoma Christian College, Robert
    Rowland makes an impassioned plea for us to change our views on the role
    of women in the church. He focuses upon what he believes to be our misreading
    of key passages especially on women holding offices in the church and women
    remaining silent in the church. “We do not practice what we claim the
    Bible teaches with any consistency and, most shocking, I concluded that
    the Bible does not really teach what we claim it does.” He focuses
    upon Greek words which he believes we have misused.

  4. Murphy, Cullen: The Word According to Eve. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company.1998.

    Murphy, managing editor for The Atlantic Monthly, provides a most readable
    review of current feminist biblical scholars. There are a few pearls scattered
    through the book which can inform a study of scripture related to women’s
    issues. This work, however, is of most benefit to someone who wishes to
    obtain an overview of feminist biblical scholarship, especially from the
    perspectives of the key players in the movement.

  5. Smith, F. LaGard: The Cultural Church. Nashville, Tennessee, 20th Century
    Christian, 1992

    Smith explores the new hermaneutic. He challenges the trend within churches
    of Christ to leave our traditional approach to the interpretation of scripture,
    namely command, example and necessary inference. His challenge is especially
    relevant regarding how we view the scriptures in the New Testament (especially
    the letters of Paul) in terms of their historical context. He notes that
    “there’s no reason to be embarrassed about our roots or threatened
    by our future as long as we stay the course. In the main, the call for a
    new hermeneutic reflects more reaction than action. My fear is that it may
    be more deconstruction than reconstruction.” He concludes that “tahking
    ‘command, example, and necessary inference’ seriously would mean
    having to accept the well-documented biblical principle of male spiritual
    leadership.” (see below)

  6. Beasley, M: Set Me Free. Understanding our Traditions in the Light of
    Grace. Houston, Diversity Press, 1999.

    A book which emphasizes a more narrative and historical approach to Biblical
    interpretation by a lawyer and sometimes minister at a large Texas congregation.
    Covers a number of subjects including the role of women. He concludes that
    “there is sufficient evidence in Scripture and from the ministries
    of women in the early church to support a more active role of women in ministries,
    including allowing women on worship teams, distributing communion, appointing
    women deacons, and even leading public prayer.”

  7. Lightfoot, Neil R.: The Role of Women: New Testament Perspectives. Memphis
    Tennessee, Student Association Press, 1978

    Lightfoot is one of the more respected scholars in churches of Christ,
    a long time professor at Abilene Christian University. He examines four
    critical passages: I Corinthians 7, 11 and 14 as well as I Timothy 2. He
    considers their historical and literary settings and their application today.
    His views probably reflect closely the current role and activities of women
    at the Brooks Avenue congregation.

  8. Allen, C. Leonard: Distant Voices: Discovering a Forgotten Past for a Changing
    Church. Abilene, Tx, Abilene University Press, 1993

    Allen reviews the lives and activities of persons who were active in the
    Restoration Movement during the 19th and early 20th century. Among these
    persons is Silena Moore Holman who participated in a long time debate with
    David Lipscomb about the role of women in the church. Also documents some
    interesting reflections of Alexander Campbell who believed that women were
    appointed as deaconesses in the New Testament church (though he did not
    crusade for their appointment during the early Restoration movement).

  9. MacArthur, John: God’s High Calling for Women. Panorama City, CA,
    Word of Grace Communications, 1987.

    MacArthur, a conservative minister and prolific writer examines I Timothy
    2:9-15 (perhaps the most challenging passage regarding the role of women
    in the church). He concludes that “Paul, under the inspiration of the
    Holy Spirit, says women are to accept their God-given role. They must not
    seek the leadership role in the church. Primarily they are to raise godly

  10. Craig, Darlene: A Worthy Woman. Salem, Oregon, Valor Press, 1983.

    An example of a number of books written by women for women based on Proverbs
    31:10-31. She focuses in particular upon the importance of the woman as
    mother and homemaker and in this her worth is incalculable. “Today
    the home must be upheld both by example and specific teaching, that our
    daughters not be embarrassed to happily anticipate marriage and motherhood,
    and our sons may look forward with genuine masculine pleasure to the prospect
    of loving and providing for a family.” Well written and well referenced.

  11. Smith, F. LeGard: Male Spiritual Leadership. (Formerly titled Men of Strength
    for Women of God and What Most Women Want.) Nashville, Tennessee, 21st Century
    Christian, 1998)

    A thoughtful interpretation by a more conservative member of the churches
    of Christ. Smith’s primary argument is that the debate over the role
    of women in the church derives from a lack of male spiritual leadership,
    a pattern which God instituted at the creation. He states, “the principle
    of male spiritual leadership …has nothing to do with rules for inhibiting
    women and everything to do with encouraging men to be more responsible,
    more participatory, and more spiritual…”. He concludes that the
    controversy over woman’s role in the church will abate when the divine
    pattern is accepted.

  12. Kroeger, RC and Kroeger, CC: I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy
    2:11 – 15 in Light of Ancient Evidence. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House,

    The Kroeger’s propose a unique interpretation of I Timothy 2:11 –
    15. Specifically they suggest “that these verses are not intended as
    the rationale for prohibiting a gospel ministry for women, but rather they
    constitute a refutation of a widespread heresy…directed against Gnostic
    or proto-Gnostic mythology glorifying Eve.” An interesting though somewhat
    extreme attempt to understand the passage within its historical framework.

  13. Kostenberger AJ, Schreiner TR, Baldwin HS (eds.): Women in the Church:
    A Fresh Analysis of I Timothy 2:9 – 15. Grand Rapids, Baker Book House,

    This volume is beyond most of us in terms of our ability to follow the
    arguments made by the authors. An in depth study of the Greek text of this
    most critical passage for understanding the role of women in the church.
    The conclusion of the authors is that Paul states that “women are prohibited
    from teaching or exercising authority because of the creation order…they
    are more prone to deception since they are more nurturing and relational
    than men…women are less likely to perceive the need to take a stand
    on doctrinal non-negotiable since they prize harmonious relationships more
    than men do…the church in the twentieth century has brought sex role confusion
    on itself by…male sins [incompetence, chauvinism].”

  14. Bristow, JT: What Paul Really Said About Women. San Francisco, HarperCollins,

    Bristow, a Disciples of Christ minister, writes an easily read volume (a
    word study) suggesting that we have misunderstood the meaning of Paul’s
    teachings given the implications of faulty translations of the Greek text
    of the New Testament. Paul was in fact revolutionary in challenging the
    poor status of women by the Jews, Greeks and Romans. For example, “Paul
    approved of women praying and prophesying during worship…these were…radical
    ideas to both Jew and Gentile…in practice[in Corinth] sexual equality
    among Christians led to a disregard for orderliness and courtesy during
    worship…Paul said, ‘Hush up’.”

  15. Sandifer, JS: Deacons: Male and Female? A Study for Churches of Christ.
    Columbus, GA, Brentwood Christian Press, 1989

    Sandifer, a graduate of Abilene Christian University and church of Christ
    minister, takes the position that many of our concepts of the appointment
    and work of deacons is not based on the text but on tradition. From in-depth
    study of the role of deacons as well as the history of the role within the
    Restoration Movement, Sandifer believes that there is no clear reason for
    excluding women from the role. Deacons were recognized for service and were
    under the oversight of elders (perhaps a deacon was an assistant to a particular
    elder). The emphasis regarding deacons in the New Testament was upon function
    and service and recognition of a particular office was less emphasized.

  16. Commentaries

    I do not recommend any specific commentary. Rather, I suggest that commentaries
    be used if available but that you review more than one in order to compare

  17. Word Studies

    Most of us are not Greek scholars. If you are interested in pursuing the
    meanings of the Greek words, consider the one volume abridgment by Geoffrey
    Bromiley of Kittel G , Friedrich G: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
    Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1985. Unlike some of the books above, this volume
    does not approach the word study from the perspective of understanding a
    particular passage but rather from the perspective of language use in the
    Greco-Roman world. Almost all Greek words of theological significance are