Review of Slaves, Women & Homosexuals -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 07:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: Review of Slaves, Women & Homosexuals
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Review of Slaves, Women & Homosexuals1

Thomas R. Schreiner

Professor of New Testament,
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. By William J. Webb. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001. 301 pp. n.p.


Sometimes I wonder if egalitarians hope to triumph in the debate on the role of women by publishing book after book on the subject. Each work propounds a new thesis which explains why the traditional interpretation is flawed. Complementarians could easily give in from sheer exhaustation, thinking that so many books written by such a diversity of different authors could scarcely be wrong. Further, it is difficult to keep writing books promoting the complementarian view. Our view of the biblical text has not changed dramatically in the last twenty five years. Should we continue to write books that essentially promote traditional interpretations? Is the goal of publishing to write what is true or what is new? One of the dangers of evangelical publishing is the desire to say something novel. Our evangelical publishing houses could end up like those in Athens so long ago: “Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21, NASB).

Nevertheless, we should be willing to consider new interpretations. As complementarians we do not want to become unthinking and hardened conservatives. Perhaps we have misread the Scriptures for many years. Still, some of the books promoting egalitarian interpretations are “fantastic” in the original sense of the word. One thinks here of the work of the Kroegers on 1 Timothy 2. Their interpretations were certainly new, but they lacked credibility and were frankly a scholarly embarrasment. William Webb’s work, fortunately, is of a much higher quality than the work of the Kroegers. He investigates the whole matter of the role of women hermeneutically, suggesting a method by which we can determine whether a command or practice in the Scriptures is normative today. Indeed, it appears that Darrell Bock of Dallas Seminary agrees with Webb, for he says that he “successfully walks the reader through these hermeneutical mazes” (9). The word “successfully” implies that Bock thinks that Webb’s analysis is convincing. Since Webb’s book is a significant argument supporting egalitarianism and is a serious work of scholarship, I will devote the first half of my review to describing his position. My goal in the first part is mainly t...

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