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Paul, Women, and Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   350
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 1992
ISBN  0943575966  
EAN  9780943575964  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Paul's letters stand at the center of the dispute over women, the church, and the home, with each side championing passages from the Apostle. Now, in a challenging new attempt to wrestle with these thorny texts, Craig Keener delves as deeply into the world of Paul and the apostles as anyone thus far. Acknowledging that we must take the biblical text seriously, and recognizing that Paul's letters arose in a specific time and place for a specific purpose, Keener mines the historical, lexical, cultural, and exegetical details behind Paul's words about women in the home and ministry to give us one of the most insightful expositions of the key Pauline passages in years.

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More About Craig S. Keener

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig S. Keener is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. His many other books include The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary and The Historical Jesus of the Gospels.

Craig S. Keener was born in 1960.

Craig S. Keener has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bringing the Bible to Life
  2. New Cambridge Bible Commentary

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
I love these guys!  Sep 15, 2006
There's nothing I respect more than Godly men who are not afraid to uplift women and credit us as their equal heirs to God's kingdom. In a new age where most seek equality but some still sadly reach for the 50's, books like Keener's which explore the Biblical definition of women to its very roots are exactly what we need. This is certainly what I needed, anyway; after seeing book after book rip Paul's, Peter's, and several other Biblical men's words out of context to keep women from positions of leadership, this refreshing book is exactly what my tired soul craved. Keener goes straight to the heart of the issue, examining closely many passages in the Bible believed to elevate men over women and his revelations and arguements against mis-interpretation are simply brilliant. You think God meant for women to be followers and that the Bible supports this? I dare you to read this book and feel the same afterwards. Anyone who insists on keeping sexist roles in this day and age is, in my opinion, too concerned with their own insecurity to want to elevate others; I can never understand why some men are so terrified of the idea of women being in equal positions with them and why some women are so frightened at the idea of being credited with more than just house duties. This is perhaps the most thoroughly this topic has ever been explored and I strongly urge Christians of both sexes to read this. It is truly enlightening, especially if you're a woman who wishes to please God, but is afraid He doesn't value you as much because of your gender. Believe me, He does, and sometimes it takes wonderful men like Keener to reveal the truth. Yes, mutual submission IS true and Godly (to the fool who said it's not); this is very apparent in the Bible not just in the passages about marriage, but in teachings of Christian behavior. We are all meant to serve each other in Christ, and only by mutual submission and sacrifice will harmony be achieved. God, thank you for Keener and all those like him. Keener, thank you for this book.
scholarly, fair, well-researched book on a touchy subject  May 15, 2006
Paul, Women & Wives, written by Craig Keener, is a recently published book that deals with Paul's views of women in the ministry and their role in the home. Its intent is to "be useful to the general reader, as well as to the biblical scholar" (p. 1). Keener's sole purpose of this book is to examine four passages from Paul's letters that are frequently used to force the subordination of women. He takes these passages and places them in their contextual setting in order that his readers may better understand their true meaning. Keener is not shy about sharing his perspective on the issue. He is a practicing Christian who strongly feels that women should play an integral role in the church as well as in the home.

In keeping with his intended audience, Keener includes extensive endnotes. Roughly 1/3 of each chapter is devoted to extra documentation and references. This allows Keener to write a book that is readable by a general audience, yet still appeals to his scholarly readership.
Keener divides his book into two marked sections. The first section, comprising chapters one through three, looks at three passages that deal with women and their role in the church. The second section examines exclusively Ephesians 5:22-31. Here Keener looks at Paul's most complete argument on wives' call to submission. He presents these arguments by setting forth many of the most popular interpretations of each passage, and then defends the one he feels is most accurate.

Chapter one of this book examines 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, wherein Paul requires women of the church to wear head coverings. Keener analyzes the use of head coverings in antiquity, as well as Paul's arguments as to why women in the church should wear them. Keener concludes that the practice of wearing a head covering was a command for the Corinthian church, because of a specific problem they faced, and not a trans-cultural argument applicable to all generations. Perhaps most importantly, he states that Paul's reference to man being women's head has nothing to do with submission.

In chapters two and three Keener breaks down a couple of passages that are often used to argue that women are not allowed to teach, or even in some cases speak in church. He first looks at 1 Corinthians14:34-35 which examines the issue of women asking questions. If it is taken at its most literal interpretation, Keener argues, Paul would be forbidding all women from even talking in church. He is quick to point out that this cannot be the case because in chapter eleven of 1 Corinthians, Paul actually expects women to pray and prophesy within the church. Keener also looks at 1 Timothy 2:9-15, a passage that deals with women as teachers. In both cases, he emphasizes that Paul's letters were written to a specific church with a specific problem. 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy both address the concern of women not being educated and therefore not knowing the issues in which they were speaking. He argues that Paul is not setting forth a strict prohibition on women's talk in church or teaching for that matter, yet rather addressing women's lack of education in a specific setting.

Over the next three chapters Keener builds an extended argument concerning women's role in the family as seen in Ephesians 5:18-33. Chapter four deals with Paul's rational for emphasizing submission among women. Here Keener argues that Christianity had to portray itself as "in line" with the model of an ideal family code that was presented by the Roman society. Christianity was not seen as a threat by doing this. In chapter five Keener seeks to elaborate on what Paul meant by submission in Ephesians. Keener lays out his views that Paul was talking about a mutual submission, and that he never meant for women to be obedient, but rather, respectful. He points out that society today tends to forget what Paul describes as being the man's role in mutual submission, that is to say, a willingness for self-sacrifice. In chapter six Keener places the capstone on his argument by drawing a parallel between slavery and the suppression of women. He explains that a person can disagree with an institution, such as slavery, yet still give instructions concerning it. In the same way, he can instruct women to be submissive, yet not approve the institution that oppresses them.

Keener finishes his book with a chapter that summarizes his views and what he hopes will be the end result of reading his book, namely the acceptance of women in the ministry. He also includes two appendixes, one on women in Paul's ministry and the other on the context of Ephesians 5:18-21. Keener also includes an extensive bibliography and multiple indexes.

Keener has done an excellent job in the writing of Paul, Women & Wives. He stuck to his foresaid purpose of writing a book that is useful for the layman as well as to the scholar. The passages Keener chose to look at adequately represent those examined by people who would argue for the subordination of women both in the church and in the home. Keener effectively develops his more egalitarian views, by giving these verses a correct understanding.

The most commanding aspect of this book is that for the most part Keener is right on with his discussions. He does an outstanding job of displaying the contextual relevance of all four passages. From the beginning, he demonstrates that if context were not brought into play when interpreting scripture then modern Christendom would still advocate, "women's head coverings in church, the practice of holy kisses, and parentally arranged marriages" (p. 4). In chapters two and three, he does a great job of explaining why Paul's calls for silence by women, and his prohibition on their teaching are not
trans-cultural. Throughout the book Keener strengthens his contextual argument by pointing out the many New Testament women that played an active role in ministry (appendix A), yet does not dwell on the issue, thusly keeping to his purpose of only examining passages used to argue the subordination of women (p. 10).

A second major strength to Keener's book is his explanation of biblical submission. Chapter five deals exclusively with the Pauline model of mutual submission. Here Keener points out what many who argue for wives subordination fail to see; that the man is required to submit as much, if not more then the wife. He reminds the reader that Paul calls the man to lay down his life, yet only requires respect from the women. This strengthens Keener's arguments immensely.

A final strength to this book is the extensive documentation that Keener provides his reader. Over half the space is dedicated to endnotes, indexes and a bibliography. This allows even the most scholarly reader to dig deeper into the issues at hand. His thirty-eight-page bibliography can point readers to additional material and sources.

Overall, Keener presents very persuasive arguments for his points, however he does have some shortcomings. Despite his impeccable use of context, on at least three occasions he reads into the text points that are not there. In chapter two Keener states that "Paul is advocating the most progressive view of his day" (p. 84) by expecting the husbands to educate their wives and consequently take care of the problem of uneducated women. While this does in fact sounds like a logical conclusion, there is no textual evidence to back it up. Secondly in chapter three Keener argues that Eve's deception in the garden was due to the fact that she was not at hand when God gave the commandment. This puts more of the blame and consequence on Adam because he did not properly educating her. This argument seems to make sense, and follows along nicely with Keener's point; however again there is no textual backing for his views. Finally, if we look to chapter six, where Keener deals with slavery, we find one more textual shortcoming. He crosses the line by assuming where Paul stood on the slavery issue. It is nice, and in fact quite probably, that Paul was an abolitionist; we however cannot get this information simply from reading the canonical texts as Keener seems to believe.

One final weakness displayed in this comes in the writing style itself. In the first several chapters, Keener makes his argument by presenting several possible interpretations of a passage or issue. He then proceeds to discredit many of views he just offered. This does provide a strong argument by displaying his knowledge of opposing sides, however it also leaves the reader in a clutter of shattered theories trying to extract the authors main point.

Despite these few apparent weaknesses, the book overall is quite good. The points that are in question do not jeopardize his arguments. Keener himself points out in his closing words that he himself is not certain of all details concerning the cultural background, but is convinced that the case as a whole is sound. He has done an outstanding job of placing questionable passages in their historical context in order to correct misconceptions about the biblical subordination of women.

Craig S. Keener, Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women's Ministry in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), 350 pp.
Good Title, good start, but the rest ruined it for me  May 2, 2006
When I first saw the title and description of this book I was excited and couldn't wait to read it. I was thoroughly impressed by the author's extensive documentation, and how the author at first seemed to give both sides of the arguement in an objective light. However, as I read on the author seemed more and more biased towards conservative interpretations. Although I am a woman and agree that women should for no reason be treated like second class citizens or animals, I didn't appreciate they way he spoke about traditional interpretations.

I also did not appreciate him ranting on about American slavery. While I whole-heartedly agree that slavery is wrong, I did not appreciate it when he said "Scripture demands restitution, as costly as that will be..." Excuse me, but are we ignoring the fact that warring African tribes sold their prisoners of war to white traders? White traders were of course guilty of sin for buying them, but what about the Africans? And is this attitude of "pay me back for buying my ancestors after they lost a tribal war" solving the racial situation in America? Is that generating love between the races? Or is it reverse racism? And if we need to pay back everyone, then technically almost everyone owes everyone money because at one point nearly all races were enslaved by someone.

Plus, the author would also stretch interpretations and ideas to make his point more and more frequently towards the end of the book. I'm sorry, but I don't feel very convinced about any viewpoint on any topic when a person has to reach as far as this author did.

I would highly recommend buying the NIV Study Bible from Zondervan which outlines several of the interpretations this author mentions about Paul's discussions concerning female submission.
A great book for the serious layperson or minister!  Mar 2, 2006
Craig Keener does a wonderful job of dispelling the controversies surrounding Paul's writings concerning women. He presents the truth in a clear, logical manner. I give this book a high recommendation!
Questions I had not considered  Aug 3, 2005
I really like his POV in this book. he does mention all sides of the debate, and thier weaknesses. I especially liked his observation of the parallels between slavery and women's issues. why is it that the rest of Eph is left out, like slaves obeying thier masters, and yet "wife only" submission is at the forefront still? hmmmm.
I also find that others "readers" down the page comment quite amusing. I can only guess by their review they never interacted with the book. None of the books, aside from Grudems work, are scholarly, if you could call Grudem and his obvious overarching bias against women disgusting, scholarly. I also find it sad that he finds it necessary to perpetuate something as ugly as fallen hiearchies among Christians. sad. I think its pretty obvious God has called us all "out of the world" and thier ways of thinking to a new radical community of believers serving and being in submission to one another...
I think that the truth will prevail as it did with slavery and I hope I am around to see it.

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