Egalitarianism and the Jim Crow Laws of the Church, Part Two.

Things will never change for the better if we don’t question the norm.

That is how I ended my previous blog post. In that post, I took a view throughout Salvation History and looked at women in the Old and New Testament, and the implications of water baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to show that women deserve more recognition in the church. In this post, I will look into several women that Paul mentions in his letters, and Paul’s household codes.

If we look at how Paul treats women individually, then maybe we can make more sense of some of his more generalized statements that are made to women as a whole within certain areas. If Paul ends up having even a slightly altered view of women, we then have to consider that maybe Paul’s generalized statements were more meant for the specific cultures he was writing to at that specific time in history. This would mean that some of these writings of Paul don’t hold eternal truths within them, but again, give us a glimpse at how the early church was founded by giving us a look into their struggles during the first-century.

Paul and Women in Ministry:

In 1Corinthians Paul gives some instructions to the church on how to maintain orderly worship. Among them, Paul tells women to keep silent in the church (1Cor 14:34). However, Paul says enough things about women within the church that it (along with an extrabiblical understanding of 1st-century culture in Corinth) seems he is not stating this as an eternal truth. Dr. Craig Keener (graduate of my alma mater) states in his work, “Paul, Women, and Wives,” that he thinks that the women of Corinth were uneducated in regards to proper etiquette in Christian worship and did not know when it was appropriate to ask questions. Also, in chapter 11 of the book, Paul assumes that women were prophesying in the local assembly. For him to all of the sudden revoke this right as a whole seems to not make sense in context with the rest of the book.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 is another popular example where Paul says that a woman should not teach or be in a place above a man. But again, by looking throughout biblical theology as a whole and also looking at outside sources, such as the Church Fathers (below), makes it seem like Paul was not speaking an eternal truth. These verses should be taken the same way that 1 Corinthians is taken – that Paul was addressing something specific that Timothy had to deal with within the church in Ephesus. Some try to use the word “submit” and relate it to how Paul talks to wives in Colossians and Ephesians, but that was a household code written for wives whereas this was directed to women – they can’t be clumped together as concerning the same cause. In verse 12 the word that is used as “to use authority over” is a hapax legomenon, meaning that this is the only time that this word is used in all the New Testament. To try and understand what this word fully means within the context of Timothy or to Paul would leave the text wanting for more. This text is probably the strongest argument for the complementarian cause, but with the rest of the New Testament to consider, it does shift the burden of proof into the complementarian’s hands.

Since both of these texts which are against women being in ministry remain unclear at best, we now need to look at some of the other things Paul says concerning women in general and also women in ministry. If immediate context seems unclear, one then needs to move to general context, and from there to all the author’s works, until looking at the Testaments, and finally the Bible as a whole. In some of the cases I am about to present, the original manuscripts were altered because male scribes didn’t understand how Paul could say some of these things about women (which I will discuss below). However, if Paul had such a high view of women and assumed them to be in places of prominence in ministry,  then some of these passages which might lack clarity or don’t harmonize with the rest of Pauline thought were merely cultural to the places that Paul was writing to at that time.

The book of Romans is the most important book to look at when discussing the role of women in ministry. In Paul’s conclusion in Romans 16, Paul speaks of nine women specifically among the 26 people that are mentioned. Not only so, but he gives notable praise to seven of these women, which is more than the men! There is a group of four people that Paul gives praise to for working hard, among three of whom are women. Also, among the group Paul gave praise and recognition to, was possibly two married couples who appeared to be doing ministry together – Prisca and Aquila, and Andronicus and Junia. Chrysostom, who is one of the most well attested Church Fathers, says in regards to this section of Romans: “The women of those days were more spirited than lions, sharing with the Apostles their labors for the Gospel’s sake. In this way they went traveling with them and also performed all other ministries.”

Phoebe (16:1-2) is mentioned as being a “servant” of the church. The word in the Greek (here: “ousan diakonon”) literally means “servant,” but in Christian circles and to Paul here it obviously meant “deacon” (Phil 1:1; 1Tim 3:8, 12). Some people call Phoebe a, “ deaconess,” to give light to her role, but that term was not popular until the second to third century. She is the first recorded Church deacon in the bible actually! The first deacon ever mentioned is a woman. And though this might mean that she was in a lower position in the church under an elder or overseer, it should be noted that for some reason she was the only one mentioned in Paul’s final words to the church.

Phoebe is also mentioned as a woman who is a “patron.” This could point back to her in the role of deacon or could even mean that she owned or possessed some kind of property and hosted people at her home. Some believe she might have even gave Paul a place to stay during one of his missionary journeys (Acts 18:18). Though some find this hard to believe, there are other women in the bible who are mentioned as having possession of land (Nympha in Colossians 4, who arguably also might have been a pastor or overseer), and again, some scholars claim that women in Rome actually had more rights than women in the Eastern empire (Witherington, Balsdon). Caesar Augustus actually tried to put restrictions on women in Rome during his reign, which could mean that women might have been not following what we think to be the cultural norms of the time. Regardless, Phoebe is seen as both a deacon and a patron and as the person with whom Paul is sending his most attested letter. That says a lot for a woman.

Junia (16:7) is another highly-esteemed woman mentioned in Romans as being noted among the apostles and recognized as being imprisoned for her faith. Though some manuscripts disagree to whether Junia should be read as the obscure masculine name Junias, it is easier to explain why someone would change the text from a woman to a man rather than vice versa. NT Wright says in regards to this: “Don’t be put off by some translations which call her ‘Junias’, as if she were a man. There is no reason for this except the anxiety of some about recognizing that women could be apostles too.” Junia is mentioned along with her potential husband as being “among the apostles.”

Junia was not just well noticed in the eyes of the apostles as though she were outside the apostles, as some read or translate it. As Church Fathers Chrysostom and Origen attest, she was considered to be among the apostles, and not only so, but notable among them! She was an apostle. And being related to Paul, this would make sense because that would mean that she would also be Jewish – as all the Twelve Apostles were.

Paul then says that Junia and her husband actually knew the Lord before Paul – meaning that they were apostles before Paul (Paul calls himself the “last of the apostles” in 1Corinthians 15). For this and other reasons, some scholars, R. Bauckham notably, think that Junia might be the Latin name for Joanna mentioned in Luke 8. Joanna would be the Greek name for the Jewish name Yohanna. This was common in first-century Rome and is why Paul (Greek) goes by Saul (Hebrew) when he is among the Jews after he is saved, but then when he goes on his first missionary journey to the Gentiles he then goes by his Greek name Paul. If Junia is Joanna from Luke 8, this would make sense with how Junia came to the Lord before Paul and how she could be an apostle, and it also means that she would have been part of the group to have actually seen the risen Lord! She and her husband are given higher praise than any other people mentioned in the conclusion of Romans!

“The conclusion then follows that Paul has no problem with women as teachers (Priscilla) or leaders, proclaimers, or missionaries of the Good News. Indeed, it is hardly likely that a woman would be incarcerated in Paul’s world without having made some significant public remark or action. Junia said or did something that led to a judicial action.” – Ben Witherington

Paul and Women at Home:

Paul only references or talks about household codes in Ephesians (5:22-6:9) and Colossians (3:18-4:1). 1Corinthians 7 has a portion on marriage, but this was more generalized, cultural, and not in the form of a “code” like Ephesians and Colossians. Since both of these books are so alike (the two closest books in Pauline literature if not the whole New Testament), I will only focus on one – Colossians.

The first thing to note is that this is a household code specifically talking about husbands and wives – not men and women in general. If Paul was making a distinction that this was for men and women in general, he would have said so. This is specifically a “household” code. Another thing to remember is that Paul wrote with the assumption that these people (Wives/Husbands, Children/Fathers, Slaves/Masters) were living according to an already understood Christian ethic. Something to ask is, “who is the code intended for?” Is it intended for everyone, or did Paul have someone specifically in mind when he included this code in his letter?

Paul was obviously accepting norms and standards that were not arguable in that day, but even with that considered, Paul altered the way people perceived their household code of ethics. Notice that of the three pairs mentioned, the superordinate in all three would be considered one and the same person – the head of the household. The head of the household would not only be the husband, but he would also be father and slave master. With this in mind, it seems like Paul intended to limit the role of the superordinate – giving less restrictions and more rights to women, children, and slaves. This makes sense with the Pauline thought in Colossians, Ephesians, and elsewhere that all people are now equal because they are “in Christ” (Col 3:11; Gal 3:28). Should we today accept these roles as they are and even still allow slaves, or should we keep Paul’s spirit and lessen restrictions as the culture and time allows it?

With further context it makes sense now why women are told to “submit themselves” instead of the husband forcing the wife to submit. The verb (present/middle/imperative) is clearly in the middle voice and, according to James Dunn the words that are used are less harsh in the Greek than when Paul instructs children to “obey” their Fathers in the verses that follow (harsher word and a  present/active/imperative verb). Women were not expected to follow their husbands blindly as the children were more instructed to. And again, note that Paul expected that all of these people mentioned were to act Godly, in the way Paul instructed earlier in the letter. Consider that by husbands and wives each obeying their end of the instruction, the other one prospered: “From being loved, the wife too becomes loving; and from her being submissive, the husband learns to yield” (Chrysostom).

A friend told me the other day that he did not want to make a rule to allow women to lead and serve places in ministry because of an “exception” to the rule that seemed to permeate the New Testament – that only men should be in places of leadership. By looking at the New Testament, it seems that women were not an exception at all, but that they were an assumed and integral part of the growing church and had an equally active role within their homes.

It might be that I was saved because of the preaching and ministry of a female pastor. It could be that I like to be controversial. But with all the evidence considered, this is the conclusion I came up with; that women are equal – no separation of rank or submission. The Bible, along with an acute psychological and sociological understanding, has led me to this conclusion. If you are not sure where you stand on this situation or disagree, I challenge you to study it for yourselves and to ask yourselves the questions that people try to ignore. Again, things will never change for the better if we don’t question the norm.

To women,
Those who stand up for what they believe in,
Those through which churches meet and are grounded,
Those who are among the apostles and are seen well-noted,
This is for you.


Author: BobertHill

My name is Bobby. I have just finished my undergraduate at Central Bible College. I am passionate about the Lord, and knowing Him in truth. I am dry and sarcastic, and hopefully that can be fleshed out in a mostly humane way through my writings.

27 thoughts on “Egalitarianism and the Jim Crow Laws of the Church, Part Two.”

  1. 1) I think it’s because you like to be controversial. and 2) you’re trying too hard to marry into ministry (nice little shout-out to all the ladies at the end lol)… haha I love it bro! Good work. A little vague at some points, but that’s the price you pay without getting too scholarly, and in writing a blog and not a full paper on egalitarianism. I’d like to see that if you have a longer, less abbreviated version. Cudos my friend. Cudos.

  2. A couple of points, abbreviated somewhat by my being on my iPad and not having a real keyboard on which to ramble:

    Yes, Phoebe was clearly someone important in the Church at Rome, a servant (“deacon”) and a patron. But we have no reason to think conclude this reference alone that she was ordained into the Church’s order of deacons, which Paul makes clear elsewhere can only be men (1 Tim 3); likewise the example of the first ordained deacons in Acts 6 (“pick from among you seven men”). Note that this office is not referred to as that of “deacon” here; so that title may only have come to be ascribed to it over the years. It seems to me that the Greek διάκονος differs from other words for “servant” in its emphasis. A δοῦλος is someone bound to service, a slave or bondman. An οἰκέτης is specifically a house servant. A διάκονος, on the other hand, emphasizes someone who serves freely, who performs a service beyond manual labor, a free person usually with some degree of status. Paul refers to himself and Apollos as διάκονοι in 1 Cor 3:5, in which case he is referring to their service to the Lord, now a formal role as what came to be known as deacons. See also Col 1:7, 1:23, 1:25, 4:7, Eph 3:7, 6:21. So διάκονος is not a clear reference to the office of the diaconate; in fact more often than not in the NT, it is used generically, referring to someone who carries out a service. Paul elsewhere refers to himself as a δοῦλος, a slave of Christ.

    Okay, let me flush this thing before I accidentally lose something…

    1. Joseph, I am so glad you comment! Your insight into Tradition and early Church History for exceeds min, so your comments to me are always so welcoming and thought provoking. And for time, I also can’t respond as well as I would like, but here are some thoughts regarding your comment.

      To look at 1 Tim 3 as a way of saying that Paul “clearly” saw men as deacons is a bit (but not completely) deceiving… Though Paul might have assumed the position to be “mostly” for men by only using masculine terms, it doesn’t full-out mean that he is only incorporating men – especially if Phoebe is to be considered a deacon. Like I said, Timothy is the strongest argument against women in higher roles of ministry.

      Acts 6 is misleading in that it was before Peter took the Gospel to Cornelius, and as you said, has been assumed to be referring to the office of “deacon” potentially throughout the years. These men were Jews, so we could also say by this example alone that deacons would need to be Jewish only as well.

      Your use of “servant” in 1 Corinthians 3 is a little troubling to me, but not those used in Colossians or Ephesians. All references in Colossians could be taken as “minister” or “deacon” as some have translated it so. I don’t see a problem with Epaphras, the one who brought the gospel to Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. And Tychicus – where following the word διάκονος, Paul calls him a σύνδουλος ἐν κυρίῳ (fellow servant in the Lord), distinguishing between servant and minister/deacon.

      Like I said in this post, these are the two closest books in the New Testament. What I didn’t say was that there is clearly phrases, words, and theology in these books that are unlike the rest of Pauline literature. There are 34 hapax legomenon’s in Colossians and 28 words not used anywhere else in Paul. The rhetoric is Asiatic – with long flowing sentences. In both there is a deeper Christology and an understood and more developed Eschatology. There is also an understanding of a universal church rather than a local assembly. And these are Paul’s only two letters that have a household code. For that reason, in many places in Colossians and Ephesians Paul uses words in ways other than how they’re used in his other letters. I don’t mean to write off your examples, but those ones at least can easily be explained away.

      I will have to take further look at 1Corinthians 3:5 when I have the time. Again thanks for commenting! Since leaving college I rarely have the opportunity to discuss deep theological topics. So this dialogue is fun for me.

      1. Oh, I agree with you. I’m saying she was not a generalizes servant. Διάκονοι were something above either δουλοι (which implies bond service or slavery) and οἰκέται (household servants). But it was also see differently in Romans and elsewhere than it’s used in 1 Timothy and in Ignatius, which referred to a formal order of deacons as the Catholic Church has today. The general sense of διάκονος in Romans seems to mean “someone who serves” or does a service, without the connotation of being a manual laborer or slave. “Minister” or “public servant” is probably closer to what it meant. In my nosing around the net, some other people supposed that “deaconesses” were formal servants of the church, to care for the needs of female Christians, especially since early baptisms are supposed to have been in the nude.

    2. Regarding the uses of διάκονος: Yes, that’s precisely my point. Though the word is most translated most literally into English as “servant,” it’s very clear that in the Greek mind a διάκονος is a very different kind of servant than a bondservant or a house servant, perhaps more along the lines of th way we speak of a “public servant.” It also, very clearly, does not refer explicitly or absolutely to the office of deacon as it came to be known in the Church.

      Don’t use one disputed passage to assail an undisputed passage! There is little reason to conclude that Phoebe is a “deacon” in the canonical sense, any more than we should conclude that Paul was referring to canonical deacons all the times that word is translated “servant” or “minister.” There is no reason to question that in 1 Tim 3, Paul meant to include anyone but men. He very clearly says both a bishop and a deacon are to be an ἀνήρ (whence words beginning in andr- in English) — a man, in the most explicitly male term he could use, “man” as the opposite of “woman.” If Paul had meant to be gender-inclusive, he’d have used the word ἄνθρωπος, “man” in the sense of “human.”

      1. We will be talking about διάκονος all night! Hahaha! BDAG has two meanings for it: 1) one who serves as an intermediary in a transaction, agent, intermediary, courier, and 2) one who gets something done at the behest of the superior assistant. They take time to explain how in regards to Phoebe, since it elaborates other roles in which she is in and does (being a patron), then it is referring to her in the first role as an intermediary or courier and not the second as an assistant. This would be the same as it is used Col 4:7 (Tychicus) and Rom 15:8 (Christ). This is the understanding of servanthood in the sense of ministry.

        I think we have the greatest disagreement because of our different understanding of “high church” and “low church.” I use “deacon” and “minister” almost interchangeably here (though I know that some churches with a higher structure are also allowing women in ministry). Also – for you to take a passage such as 1 Timothy so literally (“a one woman man,” I don’t know how you can miss that it would also say then that celibacy or being unmarried would mean one also couldn’t be an overseer or a deacon. I think that this is equally problematic for someone in the Catholic church – not just an egalitarian. I still remain that it was something cultural for the day.

      2. Well, we are in agreement about what the word διάκονος meant. By saying it doesn’t necessary refer to a “canonical” deacon, I mean not necessarily a formally ordained member of the order of deacons as it had pretty clearly developed by the end of the first century. See St. Ignatius:

        See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery [i.e. the priests] as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8, ca. A.D. 107)

        Ignatius is clearly referring to formal, defined orders of bishops, priests, and deacons here, specific offices to which one must be ordained, not just “deacons” in the broader sense of anyone who performs a service or ministry, as in the BDAG definition. In most NT uses of the word διάκονος, the broader sense seems to be meant. It’s only in 1 Timothy 3 that Paul is clearly referring to a formal order of deacons (which, for what it’s worth, is one reason critics have argued it’s not a genuine Pauline letter — they suppose that the establishment of such formal orders of bishops and deacons indicates a later stage of ecclesial development in the Church than would have been the situation in Paul’s day).

        [St. Clement of Rome also reports that the Apostles “appointed their earliest converts . . . to be the bishops and deacons of future believers.” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4, ca. A.D. 95, perhaps earlier, as early as the mid-70s or 80s)]

        Regarding a bishop or deacon being “a one woman man” in 1 Timothy 3: There has been a lot of debate about the meaning of that. It’s pretty clear from history that the Catholic Church has pretty much never read this as a requirement that a man must be married (i.e. a proscription against celibacy, as some have supposed). Though there were many married priests and bishops in the early centuries of the Church (and still are married priests in the East and a few in the West), there were also many who weren’t married. There’s no indication, for example, that Ignatius above was married (though that’s not proof that he wasn’t), or Irenaeus, or Clement of Rome. In fact, I can’t think of a single Father of the Church, beyond the Apostles (we know Peter was married and at least several others), for whom there’s evidence of marriage. Again, that doesn’t mean they weren’t; but you’d think there would be some record of it if they were. It’s apparent that from the earliest days, clerical celibacy was considered the ideal state. Today, you know, it’s not a doctrine of the Church, but a discipline that could be lifted.

        For what it’s worth, this is the commentary from the very-Protestant ESV Study Bible on that passage in 1 Timothy 3:

        The meaning of husband of one wife (Gk. mias gynaikos andra) is widely debated. The Greek phrase is not common, and there are few other instances for comparison. The phrase literally states, “of one woman [wife] man [husband].” (1) Many commentators understand the phrase to mean “having the character of a one-woman man,” that is, “faithful to his wife.” In support of this view is the fact that a similar phrase is used in 1 Tim. 5:9 as a qualification for widows (Gk. henos andros gynē; “one-man woman,” i.e., “wife of one husband”), and in that verse it seems to refer to the trait of faithfulness, for a prohibition of remarriage after the death of a spouse would be in contradiction to Paul’s advice to young widows in 5:14. Interpreters who hold this first view conclude that the wording of 3:2 is too specific to be simply a requirement of marriage and not specific enough to be simply a reference to divorce or remarriage after divorce. In the context of this passage, the phrase therefore prohibits any kind of marital unfaithfulness. (2) Another view is that “husband of one wife” means polygamists cannot be elders. Interpreters who hold this view note that there is evidence of polygamy being practiced in some Jewish circles at the time. On this view, the phrase means “at the present time the husband of one wife,” in line with other qualifications which refer to present character. On either of these views, Paul is not prohibiting all second marriages; that is, he is not prohibiting from the eldership a man whose wife has died and who has remarried, or a man who has been divorced and who has remarried (these cases should be evaluated on an individual basis). (3) A third view is that Paul is absolutely requiring that an elder be someone who has never had more than one wife. But that does not fit the context as well, with its emphasis on present character. On any of these views, Paul is speaking of the ordinary cases and is not absolutely requiring marriage or children (cf. v. 4) but is giving a picture of the typical approved overseer as a faithful husband and father. [Emphasis mine]

        It seems, in any case, that Paul wouldn’t have referred so explicitly to ἄνδρες if he meant to include women, and not described the office in terms of the role of a husband and father. In feminist thinking today, the role of a wife and mother is seen to be analogous to that of a husband and father, but that wasn’t the case in the ancient world. And if we inject one cultural reinterpretation of gender here that clearly wasn’t on Paul’s mind, it’s hard to stop the train.

      3. Sorry it took so long to respond to this comment on διάκονος. My only problem still with you thinking that it is referring to Phoebe as a more generalized “servant” rather than deacon is that of the context of the rest of Romans and Paul.

        Again, if Paul wanted to call her a generalized “servant” he would’ve (I think) used δοῦλος, the same term he used to refer to himself as in the very opening of the book. If Phoebe, Tychicus, or Epaphras are to just be seen as servants and not as “deacons” or “ministers” Paul would have certainly used a word better suited – in my opinion.

        I am still not convinced of the higher order of deacons and bishops – there is still a 50 year gap in between when Romans was written and your quote from Ignatius. I do know that it really isn’t that much of a gap, but it is enough of a gap to show that there was a progression in thought of what a “deacon” was that wasn’t intended by Paul. Again – that is why I think your use of Timothy is pretty strong – though it can’t make any sense of Phoebe without the use of equivocation.

  3. All right, Junia: In this case, as well as in the case of the “επίσσκοπη” inscription your friend mentioned yesterday, and as in the case of Phoebe above, feminist theologians seize upon a very little, minuscule, unclear and in fact disputed (both textually and exegetically) phrase to draw far-reaching and unwarranted conclusions. It is quite a profound stretch, when Paul is quite clear about the role of women in the Church in other places in Scripture, to cherry-pick a single word from a single verse and draw a widely different conclusion.

    Now, I’m not an expert on the role of women in the Church, what women can and can’t do, and about such debates; you really should talk to Laura about that. But I do know a bit about Greek. And there is no reason to conclude from this word that Junia “was an apostle” or even that she was a she. Just as N.T. Wright refers a bit scornfully to the “anxiety” of exegetes unwilling to embrace female leadership, and their reading of this name as that of a male, there is just as much “anxiety,” if not more, from the camp that wishes to read it as that of a female, and draw such long conclusions from it. The honest fact is that it’s unclear from the Greek and its context whether the name and its owner are male or female. There is no pronoun or adjective which refers singly to “Junia,” and its pairing here with Andronicus makes anything that refers to them collectively masculine anyway. In th Greek the word is Ἰουνίαν in the accusative, which could with equal validlty have been a form of either Ἰουνία or Ἰουνίας. There is nothing in the context to indicate either way.

    {flush} And now I’m breaking for lunch. I’ll hold you in suspense for now regarding why this does not refer to Junia(s) as an “apostle.”

    1. I’ll reply to this “Junia” argument more later. But I will say a couple things. 1) For you to say that Junia was not a woman would be to go against the centuries of tradition which the Catholic Church upholds – especially since “Junia” is seen as a woman in tradition of the Catholic Church, Church Fathers, and in the Textus Receptus. So to throw that argument out would be to invalidate any other argument you have made based on “tradition.”

      Also, in Greek it is “unclear” as to whether she was an apostle or not. But Paul could have used more accurate words to say if she wasn’t an apostle. The wording favors she is one over her not being one. That is why I showed how Origen and Chrysostom understood the text in the first couple centuries. Seeing that they were fluent in Koine Greek, they would probably have more understanding as to what Paul might have meant.

      Okay, now I am off to work. No more commenting for awhile.

      1. I’m admittedly not as much of a patrologist as I’d like to be, but in my searches of the Church Fathers, I’ve only found the reference to Junia(s) that you cite from St. John Chrysostom’s homily. That doesn’t exactly make “centuries of tradition” and certainly not Tradition that “the Catholic Church upholds.” That implies some authoritative, magisterial pronouncement — the only Tradition that is binding and can be said to be “upheld” — and there’s been no such thing. To make any case for authoritative Tradition, it generally has to be something on which the Fathers had a consensus, and John Chrysostom seems to be one of the only ones who even mentioned Junia(s).

        Also, to argue that there was an authoritative patristic tradition we would have to believe that John Chrysostom knew something that we don’t know, and there’s no reason to think that he did. He lived 300 years after these people lived in Rome, and he lived more than a thousand miles away from Rome, in Antioch and then in Constantinople. If somebody had any other historical facts about this Andronicus and Junia(s), you’d expect to see it in or near Rome, and either at an earlier date or with some indication that it was a retelling of an older tradition. But it appears here that John is doing the same thing we’re doing, with more of less the same tools at his disposal: reading, interpreting, and commenting on the Scriptures. The Church Fathers weren’t infallible, and though John does have the advantage over us of being a native Greek speaker, that doesn’t change the fact that no matter how well one knows Greek, the gender of Junia(s) is grammatically unclear.

        Also, in the context in which he is speaking, a homily to his flock, he’s not so much concerned with historical fact as with giving edification and encouragement, and the supposition that Junia was a female held in high regard among the Apostles in Rome would certainly be a positive moral example to women of his day.

        So no, to say that “‘Junia’ is seen as a woman in tradition of the Catholic Church [and] Church Fathers” wouldn’t quite be true. Also, the Textus Receptus, you know, is a compilation of Greek manuscripts [of the Byzantine or “Majority Text” text-type], and it’s just as grammatically unclear there as it is in every other Greek manuscript.

      2. I am definitely not as much of a patrologist as I’d like to be either, seeing as I definitely know less than you. Some things I do know.

        “Junias” would be a name not found ANYWHERE else in Greek. Some like to say that it is shorthand for “Junianus,” but that would be speculation at best. “Junia,” however, is found outside of the Bible in other places within Greek literature.

        The main differences between these names are the accents over the last two syllables of each word. That is the only way to tell whether it is a male or female. And like you and I both know, the original mss weren’t written with accents so that is problematic. However, the accent variant for “Junias” is found in no ancient manuscript, whereas the accent variant for “Junia” is. BDAG states: the form Ἰουνίαν is actually found so accented in some mss. (s. N. app.).” … “But the accented form Ἰουνιᾶν has no support as such in the ms. tradition.”

        I wouldn’t argue as to whether Junia/s was a male or female, but I would argue whether or not she was seen as an apostle or not. To argue that Paul would use “ἐν” as a way of describing how they were well known “to” the apostles rather than “in” the apostles I think would be a stretch. I know that “to” can be a proper understanding of the word, but I feel like Paul could have used way better phrasing if he meant it any other way than the immediate interpretation would demand – that SHE was an apostle.

        We still might have differences on Junia, but I don’t think this is your strongest argument. I think it would be 1 Timothy.

      3. ἐν is still kind of ambiguous if you ask me, and not something to rest a whole major theological conclusion on. “She was well known among the apostles” doesn’t necessarily mean she was an apostle, just that among the apostles she was well known.

        — Most people, though, including the BDAG editors, seem to take for granted that it places her as an apostle, so maybe it’s clear to anybody who’s better in Greek than I am and I’m just a dunce. in in Latin can also be translated “among” in some cases, and then it pretty clearly implies someone or something is a member of the object of the preposition — versus inter, which is what comes to my mind first when I think “among,” and which would be a little more ambiguous. The BDAG doesn’t explicitly state that ἐν connotes membership, but the LSJ does say it connotes “in the number of” when it means “among.”

        I’ve been scouring my resources and various things online. You might like this article. Most people do seem to conclude that this was Junia and that she was a woman and that she was an apostle. I discovered one thing I wasn’t aware of, that the name Junias in Greek doesn’t appear in any other manuscript, but that there are many references to people named Junia. So I stand corrected.

  4. Good stuff Bobby! I agreed with most of what you said and I agree that women can be in ministry and they can be over men, Scripture does support this, as you clearly laid out. I guess you could call me egalitarian in that way, but I have always considered myself complementarian. The difference for me is context and I think it is somewhat how you define your terms. Biblically there is a distinction between the role of women in general, and the role of wives/mothers in the household setting. Primarily this is laid out in Ephesians with what you referred to as the household code. I think even from a biological and natural standpoint it is easy to see that men and women aren’t interchangeable in every demension. I guess the egalitarian mindset has always come across to me as ridding men and women from all distinction and making there roles interchangeable in every avenue, something I disagree with. Men and women throughout history have had distinct roles and characteristics. A good marriage counselor will even camp on these differences and point out that the recognition of them is crucial to getting along! Of course there are always exceptions, but the vast majority of women are distinct from the vast majority of men in thinking patterns, skill sets and anatomy. But maybe that’s still included in what you consider egalitarian. I guess I’m just looking for clarification of your definitions of egalitarian and complementarian as it effects not just ministerial roles, but all other aspects of life.

    1. I agree that there are differences between genders, but I don’t know if I can say with my limited knowledge if it is due to nature or nurture. I only hinted at it in my previous post, but do we have gender roles because they are innate in us, or because they’ve been oppressed on us for centuries? If they are innate in us, how do we decide what the differences are? Take a census or a poll? Does this change in different cultures, such as Western to Eastern thought? How do you balance out being equal versus keeping your gender roles if men think that women are to submit to them because of their culture? Where do you draw the line? There are just too many questions like that that make me wonder and have concern over what “gender roles” may be innate in us. I don’t ever want to personally use a “gender role” as an excuse for not trying or not understanding something. Looking at it from a psychological perspective is definitely taxing, and I don’t know enough to be too radical on either spectrum. I am probably more on the agnostic side of this specific argument, leaning more towards nurture.

    2. I also thought it was funny that you said that men and women differed in their anatomy… like that wasn’t the obvious distinction and the main reason why this is so controversial. I giggled and almost spit my water all over my laptop!

  5. Joseph, your imposition of later church hierarchy onto the early church is completely anachronistic. This is not as a protestant … virtually any historian would tell you the same thing. You might want to check out someone like Joseph Fitzmyer, who is a conservative catholic and a responsible historian.

    Saul, I would agree with you that there are some crucial differences between men and women. I have something for you to think about, however, regarding suboordination: If suboordination is one of these differences that differentiate the sexes, do you then believe that women are innately or ontologically inferior? If you deny this, how do you do so without denying that sex itself is not ontological? If sex is not ontological, however, if it is simply functional, cannot it not be legitimately changed by either changing one’s behavior or changing ones body? To put it another way, it seems to me that if you ground suboordination in gender, then either it is ontological suboordination (if gender is ontological) or gender is not ontological, which lands you with other problems. I’m no philosopher, so feel free to point out any problems that may exist in this argument.

    Finally, Bobby, have you read any of the arguments for 1 Cor. being an interpolation? I find them to be quite strong, though I’m not sure what one does with that theologically if one still accepts this passage as canonical. I also doubt that Paul wrote Timothy …

    1. Elijah – I have not read anything regarding 1 Corinthians as being an interpolation. Being away from a good library has truncated some of my study abilities. I still have certain commentaries and sources through Logos, but also with being a poor college graduate, I don’t have the resources to buy more resources… Thus is my life. Also – why do you doubt that Paul wrote Timothy? I know some people have problems with Paul writing some letters such as Colossians and Ephesians (I personally and ironically think it was Timothy who actually wrote the majority of both), but I haven’t heard a good argument that Paul didn’t write Timothy.

      And your argument that you posed with Saul about gender potentially being ontological. I didn’t really see any strong point you posed – just a lot of back and forth with no strong point being made. I also think you are unclear by your use of the word “ontological.” Is this the true Greek sense of the word? Is this based off of the metaphysical ontology? I think it still goes back to my argument regarding nature vs nurture… just with more confusing terminology… I could be wrong.

    2. Joseph, your imposition of later church hierarchy onto the early church is completely anachronistic. This is not as a protestant … virtually any historian would tell you the same thing.

      I suppose, then, you have an alternative reading of the letters of St. Ignatius? Ignatius makes the presence of the monoepiscopacy and the orders of priests and deacons by A.D. 107 quite clear.

      I don’t know who you are, but your tone is quite condescending and I don’t appreciate it. I draw conclusions from valid historical sources by a valid historical method. I don’t have two degrees in history just to coach football.

  6. The pastorals are typically first on the list of nt pseudepigrapha, even ahead of the prison epistles. To summarize, the main reasons are the radically different grammatical styles, vocabulary, and theology that exist in the pastorals compared to the undisputed paulines. Those who argue for authenticity typically respond in one of two ways: (1) Paul might have changed his style, vocabulary, theology in later years, or (2) maybe Paul used an emanuensis whom he allowed a lot of liberty. While these are possibilities, it seems to me that if there is a case for pseudepigraphy in any ancient book, it is certainly this one.
    As to my argument about ontology, let me reword it to see if it works (which it may not). I am speaking about mataphysical ontology. Complimentarians commonly claim that women are functionally suboordinate, while being ontologically equal. It seems to me, however, that the only way this can be maintained if suboordination is being grounded in gender, is to claim that gender itself is functional. If gender is ontological, and suboordination is grounded in gender, then doesn’t that require that suboordination is based in ontology? I’m certainly open to rebuttal on this point. It may just be that my philosophical reasoning is defunct.
    Joseph, I retract my statement about you being anachronistic now that I see that you are not arguing for an established order of deacons in the early NT period … Sorry, I probably should have asked for a clarification.

  7. Here is a starter for 1 Cor. 14.3whatever as an interpolation: I find Barton Payne a bit too dogmatic at times but women in the church is certainly his area of expertise so he’s worth checking out. His book is also probably the most thorough in terms of breadth of research.

  8. Hey Elijah! The nature vs. nurture issue does play into that I’m sure, Boby, but I guess I have a hard time seeing how it could just be because of oppression that there are so many differences between the genders. And my “anatomy” reference maybe would have been better listed as “biological” as I was thinking of primarily hormone levels and things to that effect, not just body parts. Glad you got a laugh out of that. Ok, so I noticed you chose Collossians over Ephesians in your post and I can see how the passage in cloassians 3 supports your argument. The passage in Ephesians 5, though, is a much stronger passage for the complementarian view. Wives are to “submit” to husbands. The husband is the “head of the wife, as Christ is also the head of the church.”(Eph. 5:23). Why does Paul compare the husband-wife relationship to Christ and the church’s relationship if it was just cultural or temporary? Our relationship as the church to Christ is not bond by culture. Just wondering how a person with an Egalitarian view would interpret this passage which is much stronger than the one in Colossians. BTW I hope you know I have no intention of picking apart your well-crafted and greatly thought out blog. I learn well from debating and going back and forth on issues. My heart is not to tear down anyone, but to move this theological discussion forward in a constructive manner and hopefully be more refines in my thinking because of it.

    1. Saul, there were a couple reasons I chose Colossians. 1) I think it was written before Ephesians (though VERY close to it). 2) I had just done a bible study on Colossians and had already done studying on it, whereas I would have had to pour out extra time and energy into Ephesians for only a blog (I know, so selfish of me).

      One has to understand the over-arching themes of both Colossians and Ephesians to understand the differences in the household codes. I still think the goal of both was to limit the power of the superordinate. The inclusion of man being over a wife as Christ is over the church probably has to do with the main theme of Ephesians – ecclesiology. Colossians has more of a theme of christology – being “in Christ.” Witherington states: “Ephesians is a sermon about the Pauline and Christian legacy and about the nature and unity of the church…”

      So, the household code in Colossians is how the households should act now that they are “in Christ,” whereas the household code in Ephesians is how the households should act now that they are, “in the Church.” Though this difference is vague and subtle, I think it makes the difference. Also, in Ephesians, Paul says in the verse before his household code that all should “submit to one another.” This verb here is actually carried over into the next verse (telling wives to submit to their husbands) which has no verse.

      I will end with another quote by Ben Witherington: More importantly, since v. 22 is elliptical, whatever “submission” means in v. 21, it also means in v. 22, by which I mean, it is not a gender-specific activity. Indeed it would be better to take v. 21 as the heading for what follows in the exhortations to wife and husband, in which case what is described in vv. 22ff. is how, given their differing roles, nonetheless the husband and wife will each submit to and serve one another.”

      And I don’t think that you are being offensive or anything. I love a healthy dialogue. If someone doesn’t ask question I am more concerned. Like I said, this post is about “questioning the norm,” not about accepting a new norm without question.

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