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2/19/2009

Who Was the First Woman Apostle?


In the O.T. God walked in the garden with his creations fashioned in his image. Sin separated the relationship and the intimacy of the garden. Not until Christ, walking once more with the humans, is the way to restore that original intimacy made more visible. Jesus proclaimed in his opening salvo announcing his ministry that he was a fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah's words and was preaching hope to the hopeless, powerless, and outcast.


This perfectly expressed the state of woman in the N.T. To the Greeks she was often sub-human, to the Romans a necessary evil, and to the Jew a means to an end (the path of the eventual Messiah). She was a commodity to be bought, sold, used, ignored, and discarded. She could testify in court, often could do not business, and faced daily the limitations of being a woman in a "man's world".


Throughout the gospels one woman is found following Jesus with great dedication, she is at the cross, and she is at the tomb. The definition of the term 'apostle' is one sent with a mission. So Mary Magdalene, when Jesus told her to "go and tell"...became the first apostle.

So, by the time that Paul in Romans is calling Junia an apostle....it is not a new thing....but it has, apparently over the centuries, become the forgotten thing.

"NOT WITH BRAIDED HAIR"


One of the misconceptions made over the centuries in Biblical interpretation has been in the reading of 1 Timonthy 2.8-10: "I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands with out anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness - with good works." A similar verse is found in 1 Peter 3:1-4.

So what did these verses mean? They have been interpreted to demand long hair, lack of ornaments or jewlery, unfashionable clothes, and no makeup for women. Is this what it meant however to its initial audience? That is the question that must always be asked of Biblical texts.

If these texts were written at the end of the 1st century (and some do dispute that date), than what was going on then in the larger Roman society? It was the dominant culture of the times. The Flavian period in Roman history is notable for the appearance of complicated and outlandish hairstyles that incorrporated long, long coils of hair, often twisted with pearls and other ornaments. The front was pushed high up like a tiara and was worn by the "fashionables" of society. Compare it to the hair styles of the French Court of Marie Antoinette. It required servants, time, money, and an emphasis on self.

So when the writer of the book talks about a woman not braiding her hair he did not mean just braiding the hair - good women had done that for centuries. What was inferred - and no doubt well understood by the audience - was the Christ-like woman will have better things to do than follow the crazy fashions based on status and ego. Instead of sitting for hours using resources of staff and time to sport an incredible hair do - she will use her time to do good works, spread the gospel, and minister kindness to her world.
Additional reading/viewing:
P.S. - It is interesting to note that some of the groups who have so mandated strict adherence to these rules of holiness ignore 1 Tim.2.8 " ...men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or quarreling..." Kind of makes you go "hmmmm"?

2/16/2009

WHERE DID THE GLORY GO?


One of the cultural matters of the New Testament that lingers on to be defined as spiritual imperative is the issue of 1 Corinthians 11..."But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given her for a covering..." As I discuss in depth in "Those Pesky Verses of Paul" it becomes clear that Paul is not giving a mandate for women to "be covered". One example of why this is true is that it states the hair is a covering...but if it were a covering why is it inferior? Women, just like men are subject to health issues that rob them of their hair. If God demanded such coverings and the Bible is true her hair "was given for a covering" why does it thin and fall out? If the Bible is true, and hair falls out and thins, it becomes clear that something else is meant by the section in 1 Cor. 11. It becomes clear when Paul sums up the whole discussion by indicating that they have no such mandatory veiling customs in any of the Christian fellowships. This verse 16 cannot be talking about being "contentious" because the entire book is written because the church at Corinth was exactly that. The section deals with an issue of women prophesying and praying with heads "uncovered" and whether this was appropriate or if they should continue the Jewish custom of wearing a headcovering in public. The emphasis is on the freedom in Christ and the mutual responsibility of Christians to other Christians.
[Image copyright mah/used with permission]

2/14/2009

POWER

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower (20th century)
"Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish." - Anne Bradstreet. (17th century)

Learning At The Gate: Deacon, Deacon Who Is A Deacon?

“Man has responsibility, not power.” Elie Wiesel

The term Deacon comes from the Greek term DIAKONOS. The term means “one who serves” and it is the term from which the concept of minister is derived. A minister is defined literally as “one who serves”.

The term is used of Christ in Romans 15.8 and of the followers of Christ in teaching, preaching, and working to support the goals of Christ in 1 Cor. 3.5 and Romans 16.1-2.

The qualifications for deacons, drawn from 1 Timothy 3:8-13 ,”Deacons, likewise, must be….’
Male deacons are to be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much (polio) wine, not greedy for dishonest gain, hold their faith with a clear conscience and they should be tested and if blameless, they may serve…

Female deacons (1 Tim. 3.11) “Women likewise” must be dignified, not slanders, sober-minded, and faithful in all things. (The word can be translated either ‘wives” or “women” and the decision which to use often reflects the biases of the translator and not the clear intent of the text.)

All deacons – male and female – are to be in a stable, committed marriage and with a family life commending well their character and faith. They are role models of actions and faith (1 Tim. 3.13).

Learning At The Gate: Let The Elders Among You...


The term elders comes from the Greek word, PRESBUTEROS. Wisdom, stability, experience, and teaching are found among the aged. Younger people are to honor and learn from them. Out of this aged, experienced pool of individuals come those who would oversee the Christian community. In Luke 22.66, an assembly of the aged was PRESBUTERION and this is found in Acts 22.5 and 1 Tim. 4.14.

Learning At The Gate: Overseeing the Needs of the Church



The terms “bishop” and “overseer” are often used interchangeably. The word for bishop is EPISKOPOS. This term is used to refer to one who “oversees” or manages an organization or group. It is called an office or work that people might choose within the church in 1 Timothy 3.1f and 1 Peter 5.2 Qualifications for the role of “Bishop” or “Overseer” from 1 Tim. 3.1-7 : “If anyone (gr. ‘tis’) aspires to the office of overseer (espicopes), they desire a noble task..” These individuals are to be above reproach, have one spouse, be sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, their home must reflect management with dignity keeping children submissive (hypotage), not a recent convert to avoid pride, have a good reputation.

From Titus 1.6 this person is to be: above reproach, husband of one wife, children are believers, must not be arrogant, must not be quick-tempered, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain, must be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holds to their faith, able to teach sound doctrine, and able to rebuke others who contradict the sound doctrine.

Learning at the Gate: He Leads Me Beside Still Waters



Based in the 23 Psalm and the words of Christ (“I Am the Good Shepherd” and his command to Peter to “feed my sheep”) the Pastor/Shepherd – Greek POIMEN – is one who cares for the flock, feeds the flock, and protects the flock. In Acts 20 and 1 Peter 5 is indication this role may have been seen by some as a task of the elder/bishop corp.

2/07/2009

'Sacred books for Men! Storybooks for Women!"

In the 1983 film Yentl, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yentl) a bookseller with his cart cries that line as he maneuvers through crowded and muddy streets in Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. I was reminded of this as I explored a popular level Christian book source. Theology and, the more intellectual tomes, were clearly marketed to men: colors, images, expressions, and symbols were tilted toward a male perception. Curious, I ran a search for “women” looking for the type and scope of resources that search might find. The results were illuminating. Fictional romance, beauty, and friendship were the first results.

The Rambling Prophet blog (
http://ramblingprophet.blogspot.com/2007/01/where-are-christian-intellectuals.html) addresses the tendency for evangelicals to be viewed as under-achievers and to view themselves in that light. One comment on his entry asked ‘where are the intellectual Christian women?’ Where indeed.

Where are the Dorothy Sayers? Mildred Bangs Wynkoops? Elizabeth Achtimeirs? The Catherine Booths? Julia Smith? The Anna Maria van Schurmans? So many others…
They may, however, be like the four women theologians of Union Seminary (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/burke/archives/awts/exhibit.html), present but invisible and unacceptable. Women who worked, studied, and never achieved the recognition or respect their work no doubt merited.

Further Reading:
Anna Maria van Schurman: Whether a Christian Woman Should Be Educated and Other Writings from Her Intellectual Circle. Edited and Translated by Joyce L. Irwin (174 pages, 6 x 9 © 1998 Series:
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe . Cloth $45.00
ISBN: 9780226849980 Published November 1998 ; Paper $20.00 ;ISBN: 9780226849997 Published November 1998 )
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/presssite/metadata.epl?mode=synopsis&bookkey=42720

2/02/2009

"One Flesh"?


So what is the solution to issues of male and female tension? Who is in control? How should the two sexes interact and how does the Bible indicate that men and women in marriage are to relate to one another?


ONE FLESH. A mystery hidden within a mystery that has been under explored and under appreciated as a revelation about the nature of relationship between humanity and God, Christ and His Church, and between husbands and wives.


In the beginning, God was in essence ONE FLESH, the God of Creator-Redeemer-Comforter called variously the Trinity or the Godhead or the PARENT-CHILD. This ONE FLESH GOD said "let us make humans in our image : male and female...." They were created and then immediately the Bible says "for this reason."...a man shall leave his family and cling to his woman...a woman will move from the allegiance of her birth family to this new unit....they shall be "ONE FLESH". The one flesh was the standard - the concept of the reuniting of separates that were unique in and of themselves but whose completeness was best realized in a reunion of the halves to make a new whole.


In the New Testament, Jesus reaffirms the importance of this marital relationship by repeating that they shall be "ONE FLESH". Why? Because that ideal, that concept, was fundamental to His own relationship to "GOD" and the relationship he wanted to have with his "BRIDE" - the followers who would become the Church.


Paul indicates this with his own repeated imagery of the "Body" with its parts all working in coordinated harmony. He indicates it with his discussion of husbands and wives. He indicates this with his imagery of the 'ev Christos' of Galatians 3.27-29. There he paints the picture of moving from one sphere of existence into a new, totally different sphere. In that new spehere is where the believer merges, integrates, blends, disappears into, becoming the new creation of Jesus Christ. All a consistent imagery reflecting that same ONE FLESH revealed since the creation account.


-- [from Those Pesky Verses of Paul by Marilyn A. Hudson, used by permission]

The Women Apostles


Mary Magdelene was the first female apostle and in Romans Paul identitfies another in Junia. An excellent article discusses this spiritual or actual "kinswoman" of Paul ,<article>. It will be noted that many of the same arguments used to claim "prophetess" was merely the wife of a prophet or otherwise somehow less than a "real" prophet, are used in this argument as well. An apostle was defined as one who had seen the Lord and received a commission or was sent out on a special task. In the garden, Mary was sent by the Lord to tell the others of what she had seen. Since Jesus had included women in his teachings and had intentionally included women in his ministry, it should not be surprising that he did so. Nor, should it be surprising that women would be deacons and apostles and bishops in the new church.

Biography

Biography
Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God

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If you would like more information on implementing a Daughters of Huldah or a Sisters of Huldah group in your church or community, or in starting a RFA chapter please contact:

Marilyn A. Hudson
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