Here's a quick summary of our Thursday morning bible study discussion today on "The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible," by Scot McKnight. We focused on the author's example of a biblical understanding of women in ministry.
First of all, McKnight points out several examples of women who were involved in ministry which included teaching, preaching, and/or leading from both the Old and New Testaments. His examples from the OT included, Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and Esther. Examples from the NT included Mary, mother of Jesus; Priscilla, Junia, & Phoebe.
Of those examples, the most interesting one to me was Junia which many bible translations which have a biased against women in ministry have as Junias, a male name. Why the different names in various bibles? An ancient Greek manuscript has "Junias" because the copyist assumed a male name, a forgivable mistake since copying the bible is no easy task. However, there is strong textual evidence that the correct name is the female name of Junia. Attestation for this is provided by one of the early church fathers.
Of course, we still have some scripture passages which seem on the surface to imply that women should not be involved in the teaching/preaching ministry of the church. On closer examination, there are cultural reasons for those passages. Furthermore, why would we allow a couple of brief scripture passages to override the wealth of information of several women who were involved in significant leadership positions such as the women mentioned above?
Last but not least, some people claim that the entry of sin into the world in the Book of Genesis points out that men are to rule over women. But as the author points out, the point isn't that this is to be a permanent condition but as a consequence of what happened when sin entered the world. God desires both men and women to serve side by side in ministry. As Paul writes, "In Christ, there is no male or female..."
Next Thursday, we will wrap up our bible study on "The Blue Parakeet."