Book Review : Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women
Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women is a theological book and quite academic, so I didn’t always find it easy to read. Nevertheless, Lucy Peppiatt’s message is clear, a patriarchal world wasn’t God’s intention and a male-dominated hierarchy isn’t as Scriptural as many have been led to believe. Lucy is the principal of a theological college. She writes to bring some fresh perspectives on disputed texts regarding women in ministry.
Lucy begins by discussing the nature of God. Often human attributes, including maleness and femaleness, are ascribed to God but only as a metaphorical way of helping us understand God’s nature. Since God is Spirit, he is neither male nor female. Lucy moves on look at the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 and notices that authority isn’t mentioned. There is no reason to assume that Adam being created first or that he named Eve implies authority. (After all, Hagar named God, El Roi).
Lucy discusses the women in Jesus’ life starting with Mary and including the women who travelled with Jesus as disciples and patrons of his ministry. She considers their role as witnesses to the resurrection. She discusses the “Fall” and what it means for Eve to be Adam’s “helper,” noticing that this word is also used to describe the Holy Spirit.
Lucy describes how Jesus and Paul treated women. In Jesus’ time, Gentiles, slaves and women weren’t highly regarded, yet Jesus treated them with kindness and as people of worth. Paul continues this in his letter, talking about how Christ has removed the barriers between people and united them in his church, his Body. Paul uses the word “head” but what did it mean to Paul’s first readers? Lucy concludes that it’s likely he meant “headstone” or “cornerstone” and writes, “Christ as the head means that he is the organizing center.” He is the One who brings his Body together into harmony and unity. Christ brings together Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, so that all are loved, valued and empowered by his Spirit.
This viewpoint makes a difference when we read Paul’s description of Christ’s Body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. We can’t say, “we don’t need you,” to someone on the basis of their ethnic background, social standing or gender. In fact, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (v.22).
Lucy discusses marriage and notes that husbands and wives are both called to submit to each other. In fact, husbands are called to a higher level of submission in giving themselves up for their wives (Ephesians 5:25).
In Lucy’s chapter on Mistranslations, Misinterpretations, and Misunderstandings, she points out how a strong male bias has occurred in the translation of many passages regarding women and the roles they played in the early church. At times, I felt myself becoming annoyed at some of the translators.
Lucy’s concluding chapter on 1 Timothy 2:8-15, was enlightening. It helps to know the context of Paul’s letter to Timothy, who was in Ephesus at the time.
Overall, I found the book helpful, encouraging and faith-building.