From: modemac@netcom.com (Modemac)

[ Article crossposted from soc.motss ]
[ Author was tsimms ]
[ Posted on Wed, 22 Feb 1995 09:12:03 AST ]

Use this post to beat your opposition about the head and ears.

The following essay appears as a research update in Behind The
Bible. Theologians and apologists for a male church hierarchy
never discuss the points made in this essay. The issues flowing
from this misapprehension are simply moot. Women's groups are
invited to quote fully from this extract.

T. Simms, Senior Editor for Hermes, the collective.

* * * For page 237: Women in the Apostolic and Priestly

Today's views over the role of women conflict with their role
in early Jewish and Christian congregations. In Greek, Synagogue
and Ekklesia equally meant assembly or congregation. Without
reviewing recent studies in detail, research now shows that women
had a major role running the congregations. Social historians
agree women exercised strong and important leadership in Diaspora
Synagogues. This puts new light on Paul's evidence of women as
Church "patrons" or "helpers" noted in Romans xvi, 1 ff. The
King James Version the word "Apostle" for these people in verse

Another example comes from Luke x, 38 ff. Jesus stayed at the
home of Martha. Her sister, Mary, stayed at His feet, hearing
His Word. Martha complained that she was left to serve alone.
Jesus rebuked her, saying, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and
troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary
hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from
her." Jesus gave a model that Paul gave lip service to and only
infrequently followed. Today's world only dimly sees His teach-

Clear epigraphic evidence shows strong Jewish congregational
leadership by women. Early Christians must have followed that
example. So modern objections to Apostolic and Priestly ministry
by women rest on foundations of sand. As just noted, Romans xvi,
7 & 8 uses apostle and helper for male and female interchan-
geably. The example in Luke adds more to the argument.
If the preceding were not enough, readers only have to con-
sider the effective and prominent use Jesus made of women in His
personal ministry. The clearest example is His anointing. A
woman performed that priestly office, used by Zadok when Solomon
became King, and which gave the title Messiah or Christos to
Jesus. Mark xiv, 3 ff., and Mark xvi, 1 ff. besides Luke vii, 7
ff. and John xi, 2 show this action clearly.

We hear of no other that anointed Jesus. In fact, Jesus
rebuked a Pharisee for not doing so. That rebuke may be the
Gospel writer trying to slide away from making clear that Jesus
had allowed a woman to exercise priestly function. This piece of
Good News was hard to sell to the Greek and Roman world. Notice
the following:

Our present misogynist view of women in the Church comes from
Paul as expressed in I Corinthians xiv, 34 & 35, a letter to Jews
in Greece. There, he tells women to "keep silence in the chur-
ches". Today, we fail to note that elsewhere, as noted in Romans
xvi, 7 & 8, Paul, like his Master, made no difference of men and

Remember, Paul was an Hellenized Jew, as his travels through
Asia Minor and Greece give evidence. In those places, it was
convenient to drop Jesus' custom of favoring women. Hence, we
lost a serious teaching of Jesus to Greek and Roman chauvinism.

As much to the point, Paul's tailoring his message to his
readers takes us in. In Acts, he addressed the Church in Jeru-
salem. Her members knew at first hand the attitudes of Jesus
towards women. Acts xvi, 13; xvii, 12; xxii, 4 , among others,
show that in letters to the Jerusalem Church he cut back on
normal Greek attitudes.

Today, we have paid much more attention to the attitude Paul
generally expressed towards women in his Epistles than to his
views expressed in Acts. In the Epistles, normal Greek chauvin-
ism of that time expresses itself. So we lost the Jerusalem
view, the one closest to that of Jesus Himself!

However, Paul still expressed Hebrew horror of gymnasia,
philosophic public disputations and the pattern of male bonding
Greeks held normal, for good political reasons. The Romans
distrusted them. We take Paul's attitudes as authentic views of
the early Church. Yet he barely held to the beliefs of the early
Church in Jerusalem, if in fact he really did. We should view
many of his opinions with scepticism, especially if they bear
evidence of Greek influence of his time.

Tom Simms <tsimms@nbnnet.nb.ca>

For another look at this topic and others see -

My latest book, "Behind The Bible" - surprising and newly uncovered
historical information about the events of the Bible.
--->Info at my book/video storefront - gopher.infor.com<---
--->Search for "Behind The Bible" under "Titles"<---


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