Errors in Kroegers’ Book Critiqued -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 01:1 (Aug 1995)
Article: Errors in Kroegers’ Book Critiqued
Author: Anonymous

Errors in Kroegers’ Book Critiqued

Catherine Kroeger, President of Christians for Biblical Equality, together with her husband Richard, published I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11–15 in Light of Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids: Baker) in 1992. It has been widely influential in evangelical circles, persuading many people that Paul only prohibited women from teaching and having authority over men because of particular false teachings in Ephesus (to which 1 Timothy was written).

This book has received devastating critiques from scholars trained in the study of ancient history and New Testament interpretation. We wish to make these reviews available to interested readers. (See p. 11 for details.)

1. Stephen Baugh, “The Apostle Among the Amazons” (a review of Richard and Catherine Kroeger, I Suffer not a Woman (Baker, 1992), reprinted from Westminster Theological Journal 56 (1994):153-171). This is a detailed critique of the Kroegers’ book written by a New Testament professor at Westminster Seminary (California) whose Ph.D. thesis was written on the history of ancient Ephesus.

As Baugh’s title indicates, the Kroegers rely heavily in non-factual myths (such as myths of Amazon women) to paint a picture of ancient Ephesus where women had usurped religious authority over men: a “feminist Ephesus” in the religious realm. But their historical reconstruction is just not true: Baugh says, “...the Kroegers... have painted a picture of Ephesus which wanders widely from the facts” (p. 155). With his expertise in the history of Ephesus, Baugh affirms, “No one has established historically that there was, in fact, a feminist culture in first-century Ephesus. It has merely been assumed” (p. 154). He says the Kroegers’ foundational claim that the religious sphere of life could be led by women, but not the social-civic spheres, “betrays an astonishing innocence of how ancient societies worked” (p. 160). After analyzing their data, he concludes, “It is difficult to imagine how such a momentous conclusion could have been erected upon such fragile, tottering evidence” (p. 161). Other evidence used by the Kroegers is “wildly anachronistic” (p. 163), and contains “outright errors of fact” (p. 165). On the other hand, “they virtually ignore a vast body of evidence of a historically much more reliable and relevant quality: the approximately 4,000 Ephesian inscriptions and the burgeoning secondary literature surrounding them” (p. 162).

2. Albert Wolters, review of I Suffer Not a Woman in Calvin Theological Journal 28 (1993), pp. 208–213. Dr. Wolters is Professor of Religion and Theology/ Classical Studies at Redeemer College in Hamilton, Ontario. He first summarizes the Kroegers’ argument ...

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