N.T. Wright on Women in Ministry and the NT

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  • Patrick

    Strictly concerning being a pastor of an assembly and no other aspect, I wish NT had gone into I Tim 2 with some specificity.

    That passage alone makes me wonder about this issue. That’s it, it just makes me wonder and when I settle on any issue I like to have all reasonable doubts gone. The Corinthians stuff doesn’t bother me anymore after reading about it’s contextual background.

  • http://inchristus.wordpress.com Paul D. Adams

    Patrick: If you’ve not yet seen this, go to http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi Patrick: If you are able, check out my commentary on the Pastorals, entitled Letters and Homilies for Gentile Christians Vol. One. It will I think answer your questions about that passage. Paul is correcting problems, both men and women problems in worship. In the case of the women, he had high status women who thought they could teach before they learned. No says Paul they should be quiet and listen to the teaching and not try to usurp the leadership roles when they haven’t even learned yet. Paul is not saying ‘I would never permit women to teach’. The Greek phrase ‘I am not now permitting…’ never means I would never permit. It has to do with the problems in Ephesus at the time. BW3

  • Migel

    Dear Ben, why hasn’t the Church, let’s say for the first 1000 years, understood these passages as such? Knowing Greek wasn’t the issue. Should we do our exegesis in isolation from the Church? It seems like, in this case, everyone does what’s right in his own eyes. Would Ignatius or Chrysostom, for example, be in the dark on what the Greek says?

  • Migel

    By the way, I’m referring to the ordained priesthood of women. I am not referring to women keeping silent in the church, teaching or exercising their gifts. There are plenty of examples of women in ministry, in diaconal roles, etc.

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi Miguel:

    The short answer is that many people did understand these passages that way. One of the problems of course is the assumption that anything is said about an ‘ordained priesthood’ (ala the OT priesthood) in the NT. But there is nothing at all like that. The only two priesthoods in the NT are the heavenly high priesthood of Christ and the priesthood of all believers mentioned in 1 Peter and elsewhere. There is no male priesthood of any sort between those two, and of course ‘all believers’ includes women anyway. What there is in the NT is ordained elders and deacons, and there are in addition apostles (who are never called priests), including women apostles (see Romans 16.7). Blessings, BW3

  • Max

    Not everyone agrees on the the Romans 16 thing. Dr Daniel Wallace has a good case disproving this.

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben Witherington

    Actually Max, he has no case at all. Junias is not a male name. There is no evidence in any ancient source for such a male name. People didn’t name their sons after female deities, that would be like naming your son Sue. Secondly, the grammar and syntax in no way favors the reading ‘noteworthy to the apostles’. It’s special pleading to argue that case at all. BW3

  • Max

    BW, No, no, no you misunderstand me, I am not saying Wallace says that Junias is a male name, he does not say that at all. I am saying that Wallace is saying that Junias is not an apostle. Refer:
    Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.71. MICHAEL H. BURER AND DANIEL B. WALLACE. Dallas Theological Seminary,
    They survey the history of the inclusive view, which is the majority view, and the minority then examine the language.
    Zahn sides with the minority simply on this point, “if Andronicus and Junia were well-known apostles, it is remarkable that scripture is otherwise completely silent about them”
    We know the twelve were apostles, it is quite clear, they are THE apostles, and Acts endorses Paul. Yet if Paul had to go to great lengths to establish the legitimacy of his apostleship, why do we accept Andronicus and Junia so easily?

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben Witherington

    First of all the 12 were not apostles until they saw the risen Lord. That’s the criteria. The fact that they are later called apostles reflects the post-Easter situation. Secondly, the great commission by the risen Jesus was given to those who saw him in Galilee, both men and women. This is hardly surprising since Jesus appeared to women first in Jerusalem, including Mary Magdalene. Thirdly, as 1 Cor. 15 says the 12 are distinguished from ‘all the apostles’ which suggests a considerable group— namely those who saw Jesus and were commissioned by him at some juncture. What Rom. 16.7 reveals is that Andronicus and Junia were part of the original Jerusalem community who had seen the risen Lord. This is why Paul not only says they were in Christ before his conversion, he says they are notable apostles. They fact tbat they had been jailed with Paul makes clear as well that they have been involved in the public ministry of the Gospel. Finally, since Junia is the Latin form of the name Joanna, it is quite likely this is the same woman mentioned in Lk. 8.1-3 as a follower of Jesus all along. She, then, like Peter is one of the few people who were leaders of the Jesus movement both before and after Easter. See the book by Eldon Epp entitled Junia. BW3

  • http://www.benwitherington.com ben Witherington

    P.S. to Max— the ‘apostles’ are hardly mentioned as such in Acts. In fact, Paul is only called an apostle in one chapter in Acts— Acts 14, and there he is said to be an emissary of the Antioch church.

  • Patrick

    Paul and BWIII,

    Thanks to both for these recommendations.

  • Migel

    So, Ben are you suggesting that we interpreting Scripture with no historical continuity from the 1st Century onwards? Does it matter how the church came to understand and practice its ecclesiology?

  • Ben Witherington

    I am saying Miguel that you have misread history. I am saying in particular you are guilty of anachronism, of reading back later church practices into the NT era when they didn’t exist then. I am also saying that the NT practices in regard to women were unfortunately abandoned when the patriarchal world view took over the church again in the late 2nd century, once the church largely jettisoned its counter-cultural approach and imminentist eschatology. See my book Women and the Genesis of Christianity. BW3


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