Phoebe, carrier of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians

Romans 16 has been the subject of growing attention in scholarship for the last few years. Where an earlier generation might have thought it an addition, or an aside, commentators increasingly now see it as exemplifying a number of Paul’s concerns expressed earlier in the letter, and giving a vital window into Paul’s understanding and practice as … Continue Reading

What did Paul think of women’s ministry?

I am in the process of finishing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 (or more likely, 32) pages, due out in the next week or so. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here are my comments on Romans 16, which is important since we see here Paul offering direct comment on and evaluation of the ministry of women he knew.

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2 Corinthians: Strength in weakness

I am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible.The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians to be broadcast this Sunday 3rd April from around 7.45 am:

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Can women teach? part (iii)

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 (or more likely, 32) pages! Due out this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20,Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here are some final comments on 1 Tim 2.8–15. Earlier comments on this passage can be found here and here.

Creation order

Continue ReadingCan women teach? part (iii)

Can women teach? part (ii)

The root of this word cannot mean ‘silence’ in the sense of not saying anything, since in it used in Acts 11.18 and Acts 21.14 immediately followed by something the people then said, and so is translated ‘quietened down’ or something similar, and signifies the people ceasing their objections. … ‘I am not permitting …’ As some have noted, the construction here is unusual, in that Paul uses a first person present tense (‘I am not permitting’) rather than either an imperative (‘they must not…’) or a third person present tense (‘it is not permitted to…’) both of which come in 1 Cor 14.34.

Can women teach? part (i)

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out later this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2 and 3, Luke 24, John 20,Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

This is the introduction to the section on 1 Tim 2. Although it is general, even these observations significantly affect how we read this important text. (And do you like the picture?!)

This text often sits at the centre of the debate on what the New Testament (and in particular Paul) says about how men and women relate in ministry. At times it has been treated as a litmus test for orthodoxy in some circles, but in fact almost every aspect of the passage has been disputed, and the history of interpretation has been more varied than is often acknowledged. So, despite being a short passage, it needs a section to itself.

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Great commentary on Ephesians

There is a very good, detailed survey of commentaries, published Biblical Studies Bulletin (which is sent to subscribers to the Grove Biblical series) and available online here. We did a full survey of commentaries on Ephesians some time ago in 1999, and updated it in 2004. Since then Ben Witherington has contributed a volume (on his way to writing commentaries on all the books of the New Testament) and I would strongly recommend anyone adding it to their ‘must buy’ list. It combines comment on Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians as three ‘captivity’ epistles directed at an Asian audience.

Witherington is well known for his use of ‘socio-rhetorical’ criticism, and whilst not all are persuaded of its value, I think it is a very significant approach, particularly for those interested in the application of scholarship in a ministry context. Since this approach focuses on the original impact of the forms of language we have before us, it bridges the divide between ‘historical’ and ‘literary’ approaches to text, and potentially offers a disciplined way of engaging with the formational power of the text.

Can women be pioneering church planters?

I am in the process of writing a Grove Biblical booklet with the title ‘Women and authority: key biblical texts’ which aims to explore all the key texts in 28 pages! Due out later this month. I am aiming to cover Gen 1, 2, 3, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 18, Romans 16, 1 Cor 111 Cor  14, Eph 5 and 1 Tim 2.

Here is the section on Acts 18.

This passage relates Paul’s first visit to Corinth and the establishment of a congregation there, followed by his first visit to Ephesus. His partners in ministry are named as Priscilla and Aquila, believing Jews with Latin names who have come from Rome following the Emperor Claudius’ edict expelling the Jews. There are some uncertainties around the dating of this edict, and whether Acts matches other contemporary accounts. But the most likely dating for the edict is 49 AD, so Paul’s visit should be dated to around 50, since Priscilla and Aquila had arrived in Corinth ‘recently’.[1] The passage is rather compressed, giving a briefer account of Paul’s 18-

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Life in the city: 1 Corinthians

Lechaion Way with Acrocorinth in backgroundI am working with Celia Kellett at BBC Radio Nottingham on an idea to present most of the books of the Bible, one a week, during 2011 as part of the celebrations of the King James Bible. The plan is to read some verses from the book, to give a one-and-a-half minute summary, to hear a human interest story which relates, and then include a short discussion making the connections.

Here are the key verses and summary for the story of 1 Corinthians (‘Life in the city’), to be broadcast this Sunday 20th Feb from around 8.20 am:

Verses: 1 Cor 13.1–4

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Security and identity

Where do you get your sense of personal security? What defines who you are? What gives you a secure sense of identity? For most of us, it will involve a range of factors—our occupation (often important for men), relationships (often important for women), our achievements, perhaps our appearance. For much of the time, we can happily get on with life without worrying about this, but there are key moments which test our security in our identity:

  • The years when we are forming our understanding of ourselves. I remember the intense competition, as a teenager in an all-boys’ school, for kudos and being in the ‘in’ group—and the freedom that came from discovering I was accepted as I was, first by Christians and then by God.

    Continue ReadingSecurity and identity