Reviews Of New Books By Keener, Grenz Now Available From CBMW -- By: Anonymous
Reviews Of New Books By Keener, Grenz Now Available From CBMW
We are pleased to make available some reviews of two recent books by egalitarians, Craig Keener’s, Paul, Women, Wives (Hendrickson, 1992), and Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo’s, Women in the Church (InterVarsity, 1995).
Keener’s book relies heavily on ancient historical materials with which he reconstructs a picture of women’s roles in the first century world. But is Keener’s historical portrait accurate? Stephen Baugh of Westminster Seminary in California, himself an expert in the history of ancient Ephesus, says, “this book’s portrayal of ancient women is like an expressionist painting where the author’s own assumptions and feelings so color the portrait that there is little in common between it and ancient female models” (p. 2). Keener claims that Paul required women to cover their heads in church (1 Cor. 11:4–16) because the sight of women’s hair would arouse men to lust, but Baugh shows that Keener wrongly relies on only one passage in ancient literature, while ignoring abundant evidence from “coins, paintings on diverse media, statuary, reliefs, etc.” This evidence shows that it wasn’t an issue of lust at all, but that “the veil was typically worn in public” by women (p. 5, n. 16), and so to remove it was to blur gender distinctions.
The issue of men having their heads uncovered in worship (1 Cor. 11:4, 7) is similar. Baugh says,
The background issue does not seem as hard to solve as Keener makes it…. Corinth was a Roman colony planted in the Greek world. It was the custom for Romans to pull their outer garment or toga up over their head like a woman’s veil when offering sacrifices and prayers to their gods. Greek men did not. They probably saw this practice as womanly. When Greek [Christians]…encountered the Roman Corinthian Christians praying with their heads covered, they were shocked. And so was Paul. It seemed to them to blur gender distinctions, and therefore to be improper for the covenant community (p. 6).
Baugh argues, then, that the issue was not lust (as Keener says) but preserving differences between men’s and women’s appearances in church, so that gender differences would not be blurred.
When Keener comes to Paul’s directive for women to keep silent during certain activities in the church (1 Cor. 14:33–36), he argues that it was because women were poorly educated. Baugh disagrees: “We have ample evidence to show that many opportunities for education and literary culture were open to women in their homes” (pp. 7–8), and he quotes H. I. Marrou, “In a ...
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