Dr. Dorothy Lee joins show from down under to talk about her new book The Ministry of Women in the New Testament.
Welcome to Jessup think I’m your host Mark Moore and your co host Rex Gurney. And our guest on the show today is the Reverend canon Dorothy Lee. She’s the Stewart research professor of New Testament at Trinity College, University of divinity in Melbourne, Australia.
And actually, this is going to be a first on two fronts for the jest of things podcast because number one is our first international broadcast. And this is the first broadcast where we are actually peering into the future because the voice you are hearing is one day ahead of us right now. Yes,
kind of kooky. Exactly. She’s gonna tell us the future. And Dorothy is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Melbourne, associated with St. Mary’s, North Melbourne, a canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and of Holy Trinity Cathedral, and a fellow of the Australian Academy of the humanities. her new book is entitled The Ministry of women in the New Testament, reclaiming the biblical vision for church leadership. We really hope you enjoy the show.
Well, thank you so much for joining us. All the way from Australia. So you are you our first international guest on the podcast. Wow. So let’s so it is it is that says award worthy, I think award worthy. You receive it as an award. added to all of your all of your other accolades. But we’re really, really excited to to have you on the podcast and to talk about your new book. And but before we kind of get into that, we kind of would love to hear for you to be able to tell our listeners a little bit of your story. How did how did you become the Reverend canon Dorothy Lee?
I’m not really sure actually. Hang on. I was there and now I’m here. Right? I think I was brought up in a very, very conservative you’d probably say fundamentalist upbringing, in in a form of Presbyterianism called the Free Church. breeze,
freeze, dried all about that when we were Scotland, we wonder why there were all these searches in a row. And people were telling us about all the little splits in the Church of Scotland.
side of the egg that you really funny. Yeah, my father was a really was a wonderful man. He and I were very, very close. And, and I don’t know, I just developed a love of theology, I think. And he was a scholarly man, and also somewhat more broad minded than his cohort. church because I would only use the King James Version. And he thought it was okay to use the ni vi. So, you know, he was considered a dangerous radical. And, I don’t know, I just I felt that I was called into theology and, and then I felt I was called into ministry. So and I talked about it to him, and he’s in a church that wouldn’t even let women pray or read the Bible. And yet he, you know, totally supported me and my mother was a bit but, but it was great. And at the time, I’m an Anglican Episcopalian, I think you’d probably say and, and I, but at the time, they weren’t ordaining women. So I went into the United Church, which was the old union of Presbyterian and Methodist. And I stayed there for a while, but, but I problem to that very hospitable church, but not strong on theology. And also, I regard myself as a conservative in many ways. And that’s not how I’m always seeing, but I hear I don’t want to be in a church, which never says Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you know, I just felt that that it would become very PC. A little bit too PC for me. Now, that all sounds sounds judgmental, and I feel bad saying that, because I was so good to me, and so hospitable. And so encouraging of women’s ministry, but but, you know, there came a point where I really needed to move. So I moved across to the Anglican Church. And that’s been more like a home, I mean, a home in every sense of a home, you know, lots of fights.
But, you know,
actually one of our colleagues, in fact, she has the office or had the office right next, right next to mine, who left two years ago is actually just a few months ago was ordained an Episcopal priest. So we watched the virtual COVID sort of ordination things, you know, which is kind of sad, but yeah, so I believe The Holy Spirit
still works even through writing. So yeah, yeah. So. So that’s and and also, when I was at university, I studied classics first. And partly because we moved between on that actually Scottish and we move between Scotland and Australia. And we went to Pompeii when I was 12, or 13. And that just had such a huge impact on me. So at school, I did Greek and Latin and, and studied them at uni. So you know, so it all sort of came together somehow ordination, classics, theology, you know, all seem to. So it’s not really a very interesting story. Neither one of ours, I’ll tell you, I think that the part of it that was most difficult was as a woman to put myself forward and say, Yeah, I believe the Lord is calling me in this way. And, and you’re wrestling with demons, they’re not just out there. They’re in there, as well. And so the Lord’s calling you and you’re saying, Well, you know, I don’t really want to do this, I don’t want to get in all feminists fights. And, and of course, in typical fashion, God just ignores all that. They will do it anyway. So that’s, that’s always been an ongoing struggle, I think, for me and for many women. So I suppose that’s part of my motivation in writing the book was to encourage women and encourage men who want to encourage women.
Okay, well, I have to get this, I have to get this story out, actually, before we get into the book. So I grew up in New Mexico, and sort of fundamentalist Baptist. And we would have, you know, visiting evangelists and visiting preachers. And the most popular ones were the ones that had Australian accents, or a Scottish accent. And so the joke, the joke we always had was that if you were looking for a call to a church, and an Australian accent was worth $5,000 addition on your salary, but if you had a Scottish accent, it was worth 25,000. So you robbed the bank in New Mexico back then. Yeah, except for the fact that is fundamentalist Baptists. And so probably not.
Unfortunately mentalism. But fundamentalism, right. Yeah. Solid, incidentally, I don’t like feminists fundamentalism, either. Anything can be turned into a fundamentalism candidate, you know?
Yeah, that’s right. Can and that’s and that’s a good distinction. And I think that’s a distinction we’re we’re working through and kind of conservative evangelicalism in the United States. Is, is parsing through what is fundamentalist driven? And yes, and what is evangelical driven? And, and understanding, you know, that we don’t have to give away evangelicalism. Right. Yeah, absolutely. And, but but really recognize, like you’re saying the danger of of turning anything into a fundamentalism or turning anything into a, a strict legal code, that that is enforced in a certain type of power structure, that that doesn’t view maybe equality the same way and, and doesn’t maybe view the gospel in the same way?
And I think that’s, you know, in a way, that’s what Jesus was on about isn’t that really, in many ways, are not the only thing was on about but but it was against that sort of turning something that’s good. That is the law, which is life giving into a set of strict rules, whether it’s in those in and those out, and it’s just, it’s a distortion. I think Paul so combated that as well, you know, yeah, so yeah. I mean, now, I like, you know, the Catholics talk about terrorism’s and I really like that. Because I think because all that denominations in a way, we have a Catholic catechism to bring. And I’m in a church that has evangelicals and more sort of whatever you call it, the the other end of sort of high church, I’m kind of a foot in both. And, and, and I think, you know, these are terrorism’s that, that, you know, so evangelicals bring a terrorism to our church, they bring an emphasis on Jesus, on a personal relationship on the centrality of Scripture. And then I think the Catholic side of the church brings an emphasis on dignified liturgy and the importance of the sacraments understood, right, and, you know, so and you can expand that across the church, you know, to say, yeah, each church has a charism, at least one that it brings to the body of Christ and our role is to experience to embrace that carries, you know, into accepting that actually, right encouraging Yep, yeah,
definitely. So as you were researching and writing this book, so looking at the Ministry of women in the New Testament, what is is the most surprising thing that you came across? Would you say? Um,
well, I don’t think there was. I mean, it sounds terrible to say that only there was too much in my study of Scripture that surprised me because I had thought about these things for a long time. Right? I’m not saying that I wrote it off the top of my head. There were lots of little surprising. Well, actually, there was what surprised me. Actually, how I was going to answer that in the first place. Let me start with that, because what surprised me was the evidence from the early church for women’s leadership. That did surprise me. But But coming back to looking at the New Testament, I wanted a book that could speak across the spectrum, because, you know, evangelical women were coming forward and you know, the Priscilla papers which have been going on for a long time. But you know, people like in Australia, Kevin Giles, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him wonderful man. He’s written on women and supported women. And he comes from a conservative evangelical perspective. And, and then Roman Catholic women at the same time, we’re having the same struggle, and looking, to some extent, the same checks. So what was surprising to me was, was just how strong the movement was on both of those in the evangelical, and the Catholic sides, how strong how many women were actually coming out and speaking up, and how many incredibly impressive women there were, I came across quite a number of evangelical women whom not many of whom I’ve met, but I’ve kind of feel as if I’ve know the most I feel as friends now. You know? And, and the same, I think with with with some of the Catholic women, as well. So that was surprising to me. How, and also sorry, if I’m talking too much, just tell me but not at all. 20 years ago, I wrote a book called flesh and glory, which is on my first love, which is part from our Lord is the gospel of john, of course. And, and I’d written a book on it, and I was quite critical of it was a feminist book, I suppose. But it was also very critical of a lot of feminism, because I found very liberal feminism, really disturbing, because I don’t actually think scripture is out to get us. And I don’t think we need to bring this hermeneutic of suspicion towards the Bible. I think we need to bring it to ourselves. Yes. So don’t go Don’t go the Mary Daly route, right. Or even Elizabeth Shuster fear, enter, and I have great respect for her. But that’s not my way. But what really surprised me was just how diversified feminism had become Christian feminism, feminist Christianity, however you want to put it, and and just what strong. I mean, how wonderful to hear women who actually love the Scriptures speak about it. And to hear women talking about the women in Matthew’s genealogy, or the women at the empty tomb or to speaking of them, not as a way of showing how patriarchal it all is, but on the contrary, actually drawing out the life giving gospel from it. So that was, and I think something similar, particularly with the early church, with some of the Catholic women and and including one orthodox woman who might read, just to find that impetus that live given impetus That, to me is of the spirit for the church in different types of church. So that was a delightful surprise.
That would be an interest of mine to my doctorates in church history. I rarely get to teach it here. I have to teach other stuff, but it’s still my first love. And so I’m just wondering, you know, in the pre constantinian church, what what what sort of early extra biblical sources Did you find for women’s leadership in that nescent? Christian?
Well, look, I have to confess, this is not my field. I’m much more comfortable messing around in the New Testament. But, but I read, well, a number of sources, but one of the important ones was a book by Ali could choose if I pronounced her name correctly, an English Roman Catholic, and she talks about not only some of the cakes, and this is not a sort of, let’s look at all the apocryphal Gospels and say, they really liked women, whereas the Orthodox didn’t. Oh, it was not that sort of attitude, but looking at I mean, even the fact that someone like to tell you and not my favorite one of the church fathers, I might say, I give me Irenaeus IV many days. But, you know, even if the Italians telling women to shut up, and not to mention they’re doing it, right, right, so then that that’s negative, but also the other thing that Cal alley could choose, points out is the number of depictions of women, as priests as precipitous, as bishops, you know, the, the actual artistic representation in, in, you know, in pictures and in stained glass or not smart stained glass. That’s too That’s too Early for that, but you know, the different artistic representations of women, really including Mary, you know, the mother of our Lord, depicted as a priest, you know, and, and in fact, actually alika Chu says that one particular depicts, at one point in the Roman Catholic Church in the early 20th century said that it was wrong, you could not depict Mary as a priest, actually, for beddit. So I think that, that tells us a story, doesn’t it. So, and then looking at figures like the color, now, I don’t know thickly existed, I just hope she did.
She, because she’s, my grandmother was tech. And I, I knew her name is Tecla. And I had no idea who Santa Claus is my Polish grandmother, and I had no idea until just about five years ago, and it’s like, oh, she’s named after it.
Well, I mean, I found it interesting reading, I just trying to think of the name of the book and just see if I can see it on the shelf. But it’s a link coic it’s written on this to a women in the church, the fabulous writer, actually, really one of my heroes. And, and, and looking at women, like the capitation, women have Christian sized women away, you know, and, and just seeing this sort of, so that now I can feel comfortable talking about the fathers and mothers of the church, even if there aren’t as many mothers and fathers, their mothers here and have a great love of Christ and a great love of the church and, and show leadership in their own ways within the limitations of their culture. So all of that was just very rich and wonderful for me.
Let’s get in it. And it seems often when we approach the New Testament, that he’s now looking back, I feel like we read it through a lens of trying to find the hierarchy or find the order, or there seems to be a stress, especially maybe on a and I do appreciate in your book, how you put complementarian often in quotes. Oh, yeah, that really annoys me. Because I’m afraid. Yeah, yeah. So maybe explain that a little. Why do you put complementarian in?
Well, because I think a complementarian view says that women and men are different, and that they bring different gifts to the table. Well, hey, you know, I am, I’m happy with that. I mean, I like that. Glad, I’m glad that very, very conservative. Christians are not saying that women are inferior, because they were saying that for a while, because my father was one of them, although he was challenged on that by both his daughters revised his views. Yes, but but I think that the, the notion that men and women are complementarian does not necessarily follow that women can’t be leaders, or that they have to obey their husbands in the home. So I think it’s a misuse of the word. Because I think now that I know, there’s a variety of views on gender. And I, I really tried to avoid all of that. But if it is true that men and women are very different, then that’s all the more reason why we want women in leadership. Right, right. Right. That’s it for that reason. So, you know, I just think the complementarian I’m really it wasn’t trying to be nasty. Yeah. complementarian label is. I just think it’s an unfortunate one. Now, I don’t know what a better one for them is. But I have to work hard at Christian charity.
Yeah, well, clearly, I was I thought it was interesting when I was reading and saw that I was like, Oh, that’s, that’s helpful. Because often when people use the term complementarian, they and they stress equal, but different. The difference is often thought of in a hierarchy, the differences, you can’t be a leader,
it sounds like plessy versus ferguson in this report, to stay separate but equal, right? It doesn’t work that way. Right. Right,
doesn’t work that way. And what’s really disturbing about it can sometimes go along with that sort of hierarchy within the Trinity. And I think that, you know, we we’ve sold out Christian orthodoxy, as far as I’m concerned if that’s really the end, because, again, going back to the Cabot oceans, you know, they were the ones who absolutely affirmed that an equality of divinity of our Lord within within the Blessed Trinity, and I think we’re in big trouble if we have a hierarchy within maternity. Yeah, the whole kind of talking about that, actually, right before that. Yeah.
Eternal, eternal functional subordination is is it same with me, I’m very difficult grasping that in an orthodox sense, because to put Jesus in an internal submissive state it to highlight that again, not that Jesus didn’t submit, right, so father and the Incarnation Yeah, but you’re right. But to say then that is ontologically, or essentially part of the Godhead is and and it feels like it’s reading into the Trinity, in order you want to see on earth. And so it’s like, exciting it does. And I think seeing the Trinity as equal and and life giving, and and that helps us then understand male and female relationship, and I think understand the gala terian ism in that way. Yeah, so yeah, it really does as I think that’s really insightful once I think the structure of male and female we start to then look at the structure of the Trinity as well. And that kind of is the whole imago dei and male and female is is part of that in Genesis 126 and 27. I always remind my students that Genesis 126 and 27 comes before Genesis two, I just, you know, I mean, I know it’s, it’s mathematically it goes forward, but just helping them remember before that before the rib narrative. And again, the rib narrative has so many interpretations and the ones we are brought up with either, right, right, you know, and that kind of highlights I like in the beginning of your book to you talk about interpretation, because really, when you approach anytime you approach scripture, you’re approaching it, you know interpretively yet, but I liked how you applied that, especially to this topic, because what’s interesting is so many of these passages are interpreted wildly different by by different camps. And so it really does. Having a good interpretive practice and looking at it at the text and trying to get to see what the text is saying, I think is is really important. And we often maybe miss our our own interpretations and how they may be influenced how our recent sexual reading the text and writing
and the importance to reading in community, you know, it’s not just an individualistic sitting by ourselves reading the Bible, I think that’s a good thing. But, but at the end of the day, we read it in community in the body of Christ. And and that means, you know, reading it sometimes with people who take very different views. Unfortunately,
no, that’s the issue with conservative evangelicalism in our country, particularly because it has a very underdeveloped ecclesiology. And so you just use really is this soul? You know, growing up in the domination that I did, we would always talk about soul competency. And and, you know, that’s a wonderful word, but it almost gets sort of gnostic, you know, it’s just me and my interpretation floating out there, you know, and unmoored by anything but me and Jesus, and there’s all kinds of dangers. And
you do, yeah. And you do have to, I mean, I was brought up in a similar attitude, you do have to wonder what texts are actually reading. I mean, when you look at, you know, Paul’s letters, you know, right, dressed to communities, often written, I mean, we always forget this, you know, sauce, and he says they do. And there’s people walking in and out and saying things, and there’s a scribe chipping in his little bit. And, you know, this is, Paul’s not an individual writing in isolation is writing to communities and within communities. And that’s true. Also, I think of the Gospels, much more community oriented. And I think we’re the result of the sort of industrial revolution is our, in the West, our individualism, you know, I have students who are from other cultures who are much closer to the biblical world, and they’re much more family and community oriented than our individualistic. So we’ve ended up so individualistic, but we
all ask my students, sometimes in a kind of a worldview, philosophy sort, of course, that all the students here at our university have to date before they graduate. And we talk some about what it’s like to read the scriptures, through eyes that hit well through a through a mindset and eyes and interpretation that hasn’t gone through the enlightenment. And folks, well, wait a minute, Tim poorly. Everybody has, but actually, it’s a two thirds world, most people haven’t gone through that the way we think of it. Yeah. Is there anything we can you know, I mean, the answer is pretty obvious to me. But is there anything we can actually, you know, learn from these folks? Absolutely.
And we can learn a lot about a shaman on on our culture, too, isn’t it? I mean, there’s so right about the biblical worldview, right makes that makes that make sense that they can offer us I think, yeah, yeah, yeah.
When you’re looking at the Gospels, and drawing out how does the Gospels kind of apply approach because obviously there really is when I was reading it seems there’s a difference in how the Gospels maybe present women in ministry, and how Paul even talks about that, how when you were reading the Gospels how what stood out to you maybe about how the Gospels approached the Ministry of women?
Um, I think, I mean, I take the view and I know, there are a number of feminists who don’t agree with if I take the view that the gospels are very positive about women, as disciples. And as and how I mean, it, what struck me is how, you know, hollywood hasn’t helped us here. But you know, the picture of Jesus with the 12, you know, they’re all walking along, on a range, Jesus is in front by himself. They’re all what straggling along behind all 12. You know, and so that is not the gospel picture of Jesus. And at 1770, then there’s a much bigger crowd there. And, of course, who’s often accused of being a bit anti women and I think unfairly. And here, I think I’ve been influenced by Craig Keener, who’s, I think, a wonderful exegete with an absolutely phenomenal mind. But I think that, Luke, actually deliberately, namesakes women in chapter eight, you know, so we’re in absolutely no doubt on who’s on the journey to Jerusalem, and Natalie’s it till after the passion, but then it’s such a powerful statement about the Galilean women. And if you don’t, if you follow through and look at, you find those Galilean women, they’re there at the empty tomb, then we have the road to a madness. And incidentally, I think that is definitely to men, I can’t see how that second person is a woman though, some people have argued that the women are there. Thereafter, they’re at Pentecost. I mean, they’re, you know, but we’re actually visually, iconically, we walk them out, or we ignore them. So I want to bring, I think, mattawan, I wanted to do is to is to just point a finger at some of these texts and say, Look, look, then there we are, you know, we were there. Yeah. And sometimes we actually did better than men. Not always, okay, let’s not push that. in trouble, but, but there were occasions where we actually succeeded for various reasons, were the men, some of the men actually failed. So, you know, there’s, it’s something really important, I think about all that. So. So I think, I mean, I’ve never thought Paul was on the side, just Incidentally, I’ve never have and, and studying, going through the book and reading, you know, perhaps some of the early writings of Paul and you know, Galatians, three, and, and not just that the women he worked with Romans 16 is so important, right, women who had every respect for an apostle, Jr, a deacon Phoebe, you know, who carried the letter, the Romans to run, and no dad explained it to them. To us, too, but you know, she may have I mean, that’s imaginative, but, but, you know, extraordinary women. The ease that Paul had with women, I think, also reflects something of Jesus, who was always at ease with women, and and not threatened by them, in any sense. So. So I don’t know if I’m really answering your question. I’m sort of wandering off. Sorry.
Yeah. No, that was great. And I love going into Paul, because I think that is important. And I loved in the book, that chart you have of all the women Paul worked with, and mentioned, because I think it’s visually helpful to see that to see that Paul is not just him and a bunch of guys doing this ministry. And and, and the women listed and who we’re talking about, had vital roles and had Vital Voices into the end of the process. And you mentioned something in the book too, about Paul’s language, kind of is androcentric language, which, which he made the point which I thought was helpful, like, even in our own time, just 20 years ago, 30 years ago, and I still have to like correct quotes, when I’m using them in class. I’ll say when they say man here, they mean human beings. But we’ve kind of we’ve, you know, we did the same thing in in English language, we would use man or mankind, when we met men and women. Yes, that’s just Oh, sometimes I think, yeah, maybe in the New Testament, and with Paul, the male centric language, is we can read that and we miss the fact that women were actually present there and it’s helpful to have it pointed out
Yeah, and, and also, I mean, I think one of the most difficult texts is one john which is also one of the most beautiful Texting another great Epistle of love. And yet it’s if you read it in English Standard Version, and I must say I secretly like the English Standard Version, because it’s so close to the Greek. But in other ways, I absolutely loathe it because it refuses to use inclusive language. So you have a love hate relationship with the ESV. But if you read through one john in the ESV, it’s just it’s brothers, and it’s like women don’t exist. And I think that I would like a deltoid, I think there’s a good case to be made, that it is an inclusive term in the way that it used to be when they used to talk about the brethren. You know, or even a denomination called the brethren. They knew that they were included. Right. Yeah. So I think I think it’s legitimate to translate that as brothers and sisters, I think that is accurate. So, so I don’t think we need to sort of stick to Android centric language anymore. I think we can. Yeah, it’s not easy for us. And it’s English is not doesn’t make it very easy for us either. And we’ve got language, I just, frankly, don’t really touch on that, because I think that’s part of the culture about but I don’t think anyone thinks that God is actually male, Jesus.
Actually, I have I have a colleague, that I had an argument with, actually, in front of my door, just a couple of years ago, he was insisting that that God was a male, because he’s pointing to all the male pronouns. And the, I don’t know, Mark, if you want to hear this, but I won’t say the name wasn’t me, it wasn’t gay wasn’t talking about, you know, it’s like nobody, but he was just he was just, but I happen to know, this person is very, you know, he’s, he’s a complementarian, and probably not the healthiest sense of that word. And I kind of know him and how he views things. And so yeah, you know, it was almost like a God made it his own image just because of some wayward pronouns
in the Bible, and I looked in many ways for masculine was used as sort of a neutral kind of, you know, where you dumped everything, right. And that still is the case in English. So I try not to use he or his for God. But I sometimes do, and I don’t worry about it, if I do. A God self is a horrible thing. grammatically. It’s hard for us that I just hope.
Right? But it is, it is difficult to have I work with a group of our capstone students in theology and Biblical Studies, and trying to help them just even recognize gender inclusive language, and when they’re referencing God, and, and it’s funny one, you know, one student kind of highlighted, you know, that they were like, well, I’m still going to use he and him. Because that’s, you know, and, and now he’s like, Well, part of it is just recognizing, like, like, you were saying, are they we realize, God is not male, right? This is just to where we have limitations within our language, but we need to be mindful that our language then affects our theology. Yeah. And I said, it would probably be different if, you know, another student wrote the paper and used all female pronouns for God, then that student who was like I’m going to use him would probably be like, wait time out, you know, and, again, we’re not saying God is female is again, the limitation is a limitation of English language. It is a choice. And when we approach scripture, I think we often when we read it in English, we forget that that again, is translated. And, and there’s so much behind these that I think the author’s Paul would have been like, hey, that’s not what I meant by this or that, you know, that’s just how we use that word.
If you go find you, Mark, the is that the rhib live icon there. Behind you. Yes, Trinity. Yeah. That is not that is absolutely beautiful. I know. It’s, everyone’s into it. I’ve even got one down here. But, you know, that is such a beautiful image, and it does not portray particular maleness, you know, at around. There’s something that’s beyond gender in in yet profoundly personal, profoundly personal, because that’s what we want to assert that God is personal beyond any sense that we have of what personhood actually. Right. Right. And, yeah, so I have trouble with using creator Redeemer and sanctifier for the Trinity. I don’t think it’s Trinitarian. I think if you take Oh, it’s my realistic. Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s trouble with a few feminists for my
views on that. Right. Right. And it but it’s hard in and I know we’re helping our students kind of walk through that because the And biblically given that kind of metaphor of father and son, and spirit, and it kind of helps us understand. But it’s the relational aspect that is being stressed Not, not the gender,
not the agenda. And I think there’s something really important theologically, and I read this in john and also Paul, and that is that, that we are drawn into the sonship filiation, if you prefer a more neutral, the Latin root, but when we become children of God, because we’re drawn into Jesus’s sonship, his filiation, and therefore God is our father. It’s not that we have a direct relationship. You know, God is the father of everybody. It’s God is our father, because God is first and foremost, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So I think theologically, that’s just really important, really important for inside our will is Ephesians, isn’t it? I mean, it’s, and it’s certainly John’s Gospel, you know, Jesus says, to Mary Magdalene, I’m ascending to My Father and your Father, my God, and your God, not our father and our God, mine and yours, you know, there’s a uniqueness that Jesus has in relation to the Father. So, so I don’t want to get rid of that is beautifully rich, wonderful imagery. And I’ve written elsewhere on the fatherhood of God, that the Father regarding the gospel of john is, is is actually anti patriarchal, it’s very opposite opposite of what patriarchy does in terms of building up power and, and excluding, you know, whereas, you know, the father in the fourth gospel is, is, is self giving, even to the point of His love being rejected. And, and, and, and is, it’s an inclusive love, it draws in, it draws people in, it doesn’t exclude. And so there’s something profoundly anti patriarchal about, I think, the New Testament understanding of, of the fatherhood of God that I think we need to reclaim. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to look at feminine images. There’s lots of rich, feminine images in the Bible that we can draw out and I’m all for that, too. But, but I think we’ve got to start with the language we’ve been given and look at its richness first.
Yeah. And you use that, that word reclaim in your subtitle as well. Right. reclaiming?
Yeah. Just find it. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I have seen the Lord that wanted.
Once it goes to a titling committee, they, you know, who knows what it’s gonna be?
Look, and they certainly will put me or Magdalene on the front Would that be okay, that’d be fine that they said we want a title that communicate straightaway so I could see their point.
Yeah, and you know, and maybe to the to their point, it is helpful when you’re looking through a catalogue or you know, you’re looking for you know, you’re teaching a class on women in ministry or women in the Bible and are one of my colleagues is is looking at your book to use in a women in the Bible, women in Scripture class next fall, and she’s been looking for a good New Testament source and she came across yours and so and that kind of tipped me off to your source and and yeah, so the title help so you can you can tell Baker you know, okay, you got you got a
bike a bike were absolutely wonderful to work with. I’ve never had worked, had such a good publisher ever. So, so open and so lovely, just lovely.
One, I think maybe that that part of the subtitle, just using the way you use the word, reclaiming there, I think is important, right? The reclaiming, like, we have this biblical language biblical and imagery, and a biblical vision of women in leadership that needs to be reclaimed, not rejected. Not, you know, or invented, yeah, or invented yet. And that just maybe seem to be like the on the more extreme side of feminism. It becomes a rejection of, of Scripture, a rejection of Paul, but rather may be a a reading of Paul, through the lens of, hey, look how many times he references women and their role in his ministry. It helps us understand those those problem passages, or the more difficult passages of Paul,
and I think, but Beverly Venter is the one who said, you know, he says, we need to start with Paul’s actual experience. That’s where we start. You start with his actual experience with women and the women that he worked alongside of, and the women he worked with. And that’s where we start studying Paul. And then we look at some of the open passages and then we go to the difficult passages and say, Okay, how do we interpret that in the light of what we already know, a poll and the whole poor line school if you want to call it that? That was tricky for me, because, of course, quite a number of my colleagues think that Paul didn’t write Ephesians or possibly Colossians on to Timothy and Titus. And so I thought, well, I don’t want to buy into that argument because actually, I don’t care. It’s in the canon. It’s in some sense, Paul line. And it doesn’t worry me too much. You know, I’m not gonna dismiss something because it’s somebody reckons it’s not Paul on and right. I always remember at university getting into trouble for writing an essay in philosophy, and the one that my tutor said to me that wasn’t they weren’t your word, by word. She said, Well, that’s not your usual lifestyle? Well, it probably wasn’t because I went to a lot of trouble over this one. But she wouldn’t accept me. And always remember that, because you just have to talk about whether someone style will change, you know, and would be different in different contexts. So. So the question, so what I wanted to do be able to do is to speak to both those who are who only see, you know, a small number of or spewer letters as Paul line and others, except the whole 13 as Paul line, no paper calls. And I wanted to be able to speak to both because I think what some of them have done, like the translators of the New Revised Standard Version of Dan is to say, well, Paul probably didn’t write it. So we’ll just try. We’ll just interpret it the way we always have taken out the fact that all these women and men are doing all this work on these texts and looking at verbs like our thin chain and saying, well, it actually doesn’t mean to teach it mean to dominate, you know, so what difference does that make? You know, so? So, I just wanted to be able to speak, to just get out of get out of a rough ground lightly, I think and just sort of, I think, mistaken emphasis, I think it’s mistaken on who wrote it. Yeah. You know, because at the end of the day, it’s in the canon, you know, and it’s under the name of Paul. So it is, in some sense, Paul line. And I don’t believe even if Paul didn’t write it, and I find it hard with with Timothy, because, you know, they such personal letters anyway. But yeah, no, I agree with you. I mean, one of the people that I find really, really difficult is Bart Ehrman. In fact, the students know not to mention him in my class.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he’s one that got away after his whole education paid for by the folks he rejects later. But that’s all other story.
Yeah, that’s interesting, though, is I mean, he’s, he’s writing out of it, and a lot of unresolved anger. Right. And it’s influencing younger scholars to which I find very sad. Yeah. And to move in his direction before, you know, we’re talking about these fraudulent texts. And, you know, I mean, for goodness sake, you know, right. I just feel like saying, well, we understand why you’re angry, that’s okay. You can be angry, you just need to move on. Right, so that wasn’t a very scholarly comment. But the point is that I was trying to avoid all that and look at those texts in their own right as Paul line, in some sense that I don’t always understand, you know, Sonny’s might have written quite a bit of one of those letters you know, he’s names there at the top some of them and not to mention the scribe I love the way pops his head up and in writing that burst, you know, why back? But I wanted to avoid all that debate. So we could look at the text in themselves to take them seriously as, as canonical texts. And therefore, especially for us and to ask, okay, is the traditional reading the way the only way to read this or are there other ways that we can interpret these texts? And, and I found all sorts of help from people like Craig Craig. Craig keener fee, Gordon fee. If If Bruce is, you know, older, older scholars, but still were arguing way back then if Bruce is saying, you know, the structure of the ancient aim of ancient marriage is not the same as modern marriage, you know, maybe a girl of 13 or 14 or 15, an educated marrying a man who’s twice her age, who, of course, he’s going to be the leader in the house. That makes a lot of sense, but in our context, he argues it doesn’t you know, so. So that kind of contextual work as well as exegetical work. I found it immensely enlightening to actually study it was a privilege to be allowed to mess around in texts.
Yeah. When I think you you handled the Pauline texts really well, I really appreciated how you how you approach them and are a gentleman scholar that that’s, that to me is a compliment Thank you. Yeah, they’re great and and it was and i think i appreciate because I would be in a similar and I think Rex would be to in a similar boat where we’re not going to just reject a text because we’re like, well, if that’s not Paul’s and just get rid of it. It’s again, it’s like this is scripture. And we need to, we need to, we need to learn and wrestle with it how best to read it, right? That is instead of instead of just maybe accept it like black and white what the word say or reject it, you know, there is this kind of middle, and a harder path of doing the work doing, doing the absolute plus contextual, you know.
Exactly, exactly. Yeah. And, I mean, I have disagreements with some of my colleagues, north of the border in I don’t know if you know much about Australian geography, but in the Anglican Church is perhaps moments of slight tension with our sisters and brothers in Sydney, actually, mainly with our brothers in Sydney. And one of them talks about the perspicacity of Scripture and has written about it. And, and what it seems to mean is that whatever he thinks Scripture says, That’s what it says. And that’s what’s obvious to everybody. And you just can’t argue you. Actually, you can’t break through that you can’t even suggest that loving God with our minds might mean we have to struggle with God’s word, you know, to understand its meaning for us, we might actually do some have to do some hard work. And that might actually be good for us and healthy for us. And it might be good for us. Right? Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Yes. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. We’re a podcast. We just have a chat, right. Yeah, exactly. We don’t to record him. We’re, you know, we’re available and late evening. So after afternoon, your time. We’re just happy we got it all timed out. Right. And, and then I, I, I’ve been getting some lessons from my Dean of the School of Theology. He was from Australia. And he probably would be upset with me because I don’t I don’t know right now. Exactly. Where in Australia he’s from which I probably should know. What? David Tim’s David Tim’s he was at hope international for a while. I don’t know. He went to Macquarie. Right? Yeah. Sydney? Yeah. Sydney. That’s definitely in Sydney in Sydney. Yeah. And Sydney very well. We’ll go with that. We’ll go with that. Well, when I was telling him I was excited, you know, sound him? Well, for one I made a mistake. I told him we were having our first guests from Australia on and then he reminded me he’d already been on the podcast and he’s from Australia, but he’s, he’s an expatriate. He’s living over here. He’s been over here for 20 some years. But oh, boy, you guys. Oh, yeah. Good. Boy. It’s that is
the bed. I was telling him. You were in Melbourne, Melbourne, and he was trying to coach me on how to say it. So it’s just Melbourne like Melbourne, not Melbourne. Now. Melbourne is Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne.
We might see speakers in Australia. Shortly anything or get rid of a syllable will fall away.
Yeah, just get rid of it. So, thank you so much for joining us from Melbourne. Mark and Rex. It’s been really lovely to talk to you. I really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for listening to Jessup. Think Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Jessup think we would love to hear your thoughts on the episode and engage with any questions you have. Our aim is to provide a framework for further reflection and deeper exploration of these important topics. You can also help the show by leaving a review on iTunes these reviews help the podcast reach new listeners. Until next time, I’m Mark Moore and this is Jessup.
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