Biblical Feminism And The New Testament: A Review Of Selected Literature -- By: Jerry R. Flora

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 14:0 (NA 1981)
Article: Biblical Feminism And The New Testament: A Review Of Selected Literature
Author: Jerry R. Flora


Biblical Feminism And The New Testament:
A Review Of Selected Literature

Jerry R. Flora

“The woman question” surfaced among evangelical Christians in the U.S. during the 1970s. Prompted to some extent by the women’s liberation movement, some leaders in the conservative wing of Protestantism took a new look at biblical teaching on the roles of men and women in home, church, and society. Questions of singleness, marriage, divorce, remarriage, headship, submission, and ordination would not be silenced. As usual, the situation tended to polarize, this time between the traditionalists and the feminists.

Traditionalists tend to emphasize the differences between male and female in creation, in the church, and at home, with the female assuming a place of submission marked chiefly by motherhood at home, missionary service, music, and children in the church, and with male leadership in both places. Feminists, on the other hand, are by definition those who support “woman’s claims to be given rights, opportunities, and treatment equal to those of men” (Oxford American Dictionary). In the church some have divided the latter group into Christian feminists and biblical feminists. The former are those having any allegiance to the Christian faith that influences their thinking (e.g., Mary Daly, Rosemary Ruether, Dorothee Soelle), while biblical feminists are those who consider the Christian Scriptures to be the divinely inspired Word of God having final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

During the 1970s biblical feminists published three nationally noted books advancing their views: All We’re Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women’s Liberation, by Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (Word Books, 1974, 255 pp.); Man as Male and Female: A Study in Sexual Relationships from a Theological Point of View, by Paul K. Jewett (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975, 200 pp.); and Women, Men, and the Bible, by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Abingdon Press, 1977, 142 pp.).

Several other volumes were published during the 1970s which interacted directly or indirectly with the biblical feminists. The purpose of this article is to offer a review of four exegetically informed works together with some methodological considerations.

George W. Knight III (1977)

The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women (Baker Book House, 1977, 76 pp.) is a brief, tightly

written exegetical treatment growing out of several items composed between 1972 and 1977. The author, George W. Knight III, professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Westmi...

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