Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 19:2 (Spring 2005)
Article: Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Correcting Caricatures:
The Biblical Teaching on Women

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

DR. WALTER C. KAISER, Jr. is the Colman M. Mockler distinguished Professor of Old Testament and President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He received his A.B. from Wheaton College and a B.D. from Wheaton Graduate School. He has earned both a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University. Dr. Kaiser has contributed to such publications as Journal for the Study of Old Testament, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Christianity Today, Westminster Theological Journal, and Evangelical Quarterly. He has also written numerous books.

If we all approach the text of Scripture, each having his or her own framework of understanding (even when we share a view of the Bible that it is inerrant and true in all it affirms and teaches), is there any hope that we can ever reach a “correct” or “objectively valid” interpretation,1 especially on passages that are so sensitive as those that deal with the place and privilege of women in the body of Christ today? Surely, no one particular set of presuppositions is to be favored in and of itself over any other set of presuppositions as the proper preparation for understanding a text. And no one starts with a tabula rasa, a blank mind. So does this mean we are hopelessly deadlocked with no possibility for a resolution?

But evangelicals do argue, nevertheless, that despite the acknowledgement that we all begin with a certain number of presuppositions, this does not demolish the possibility of our reaching a correct interpretation. Our pre-understandings are changeable and, therefore, they can and should be altered by the text of Scripture. Just as one must not involve one’s self in a hopeless contradiction by declaring that “absolutely, there are no absolutes,” in the same manner, to declare, “Objectively, there are no objective or correct meanings possible for interpreting a passage of Scripture,” is to decry exactly what is being affirmed. The way out of this quandary of both the relativist or the perspectivalist conundrum is to identify the presence of those aspects of thought that are self-evident first principles of thought that transcend every perspective, and act the same way for all people, all times, and all cultures.2 This is not to say that a correct, or an objective, interpretation is always reached in every attempted interpretation. But, for those who accept the God who has created all mortals and given us the gift of language when he gave us the “image of God,” it is not a stretch to say that a “correct” and “objective understanding” is poss...

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