The Role of Women According to Jesus and the Early Church
by Robert J. Karris, O.F.M.
from Women and Priesthood: Future Directions,
edited by Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. The Liturgical Press,
Republished on our website with the necessary
As a transition from the Old Testament into the New, let me invite the reader to engage in a brief exercise in imagination. Suppose that the New Testament (NT) texts on women are a landscape. That landscape is varied, with valleys and hills, rough and smooth terrain, myriads of lush trees and plants. Imagine yourself viewing that landscape through two different pairs of colored glasses.
The first pair of glasses reveals the landscape in this light:
Jesus Christ did not call any woman to become part of the Twelve. If He acted in this way, it was not in order to conform to the customs of His time, for His attitude towards women was quite different from that of His milieu, and He deliberately and courageously broke with it.(1)
The apostolic community remained faithful to the attitude of Jesus towards women.... They (the Twelve and Paul) could therefore have envisaged conferring ordination on women, if they had not been convinced of their duty of fidelity to the Lord on this point.(2)
The second pair of glasses enables the viewer to spy the landscape in this wise:
It (the Jesus movement in Palestine) rejected the priestly laws of Jewish religion and attracted the outcast of its society. Jesus followers were not the righteous, pious or powerful of the time, but tax collectors, sinners andwomen, all those who were cultically unclean and did not belong to the religious establishment or the pious associations of the day.(3)
The self-understanding of the Christian community eliminated all distinctions of religion, race, class and caste, and thereby allowed not only gentiles and slaves to assume full leadership in the Christian community but also women. Women were not marginal figures in this movement but exercised leadership as apostles, prophets, evangelists, missionaries, offices similar to that of Barnabas, Apollos or Paul.(4)
This scanning of the landscape raises the immediate question: Why do the colored glasses show up the landscape in such vastly different lights? I would suggest that the answer is partly to be found in the examination of contemporary NT criticism and in a survey of the recent discussion on what the NT says about the ordination of women.(5) Most people reading this chapter are more familiar with the first set of glasses, provided by the Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. People normally do not view womens ordination through the second set, provided by Dr. Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. For this reason I will proceed in this chapter by showing the place the Declarations views occupy in contemporary NT criticism and in the recent discussions about what the NT says about the ordination of women. In organizing the data, I adapt the very handy schema of Reginald H. Fuller: 1) Old Testament; 2) Jesus; 3) The Earliest Church; 4) St. Paul; 5) Early Catholicism.(6)
The Declaration follows the lead of most recent discussions of the biblical data and eliminates as irrelevant any discussion of the Old Testament concept of priesthood. John Reumann clearly stated the 1973 consensus on this point: . . . it is by and large agreed that the New Testament ministry is no continuation of the Old Testament priesthood. Israel provides no answer on the ordination of women to the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ.(7) Yet Reumann himself (8) and Carroll Stuhlmueller in chapter two of this volume provide keys for opening up the Old Testament for further exploration in this area.
The Declaration is at one with the best of contemporary Gospel scholarship when it generalizes: As we have seen, an examination of the Gospels shows on the contrary that Jesus broke with the prejudices of his time, by widely contravening the discriminations practiced with regard to women.(9) We still smart at the cacophony of this discrimination when we hear the synagogue prayer: R. Judah says: Three blessings one must say daily: Blessed (art thou), who did not make me a gentile; Blessed (art thou), who did not make me a woman; Blessed (art thou), who did not make me a boor.(10) There may have been synagogue voices more favorably disposed to women, but R. Judahs is the dominant voice
But the Declaration is not at one with contemporary Gospel scholarship when it attempts to fathom the attitude of Jesus and thus arrive at the Lords example as normative for all time. The Declaration draws the inference from Jesus radical stance toward women: But it must be recognized that we have here a number of convergent indications that make all the more remarkable the fact that Jesus did not entrust the apostolic charge to women.(11) The authors of the Declaration are apparently so intent on pursuing their argument, based on Jesus example, that they shortcircuit one of the most signal scholarly accomplishments of recent memory, scil., the recognition and approbation of the methodologies by which the Gospels are seen to be the results of three stages of formation. This three-fold approach was endorsed by an Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, approved by Pope Paul VI in the first year of his pontificate (April 21, 1964), later incorporated into the Constitution on Divine Revelation, Ch. V, of Vatican II (Nov. 18, 1965) and summarized here in the following paragraph.(12)
While based on what the Twelve remembered of Jesus words and deeds (first stage), the Gospels contain the added insights of faith, granted to the Twelve and to the churches through Jesus resurrection and the gift of the Spirit (second stage). These insights, as developed and used by the early church in its various ministries, provided the base for the evangelists who selected what they deemed necessary to create a literary work which would meet the faith needs of their people (third stage). Put in less technical terms and from a different angle, the Gospels do not provide us with transcripts or tape-recordings of what Jesus was about They are documents of faith. It is not a simple undertaking to attain to what the Declaration calls the attitude of Jesus towards women.(13)
But focusing more directly on the topic at hand, I make the following observations. First, it is almost certain that Jesus of Nazareth established the Twelve. They are symbolic of the unity of Israel imaged by the twelve tribes of Israel which are governed by males, i.e., the twelve patriarchs. It is not clear that Jesus of Nazareth called apostles. Thus the Twelve and apostles cannot be facilely equated nor can the Twelve and apostolic charge be easily identified.(14) Thus, the Declaration has not arrived at the attitude of Jesus of Nazareth when it equates the calling of the Twelve with the apostolic charge (15) and thus eliminates women from the priesthood.(16)
Secondly, . . . NT criticism makes it very unlikely that we can picture the historical Jesus as omniscient, foreseeing the future of the Church in detail.(17) Put in another medium, we can say that contemporary Gospel criticism does not support a bible blueprint ecclesiology, which in the words of Raymond E. Brown is usually based on the Gospels and Acts as evidence that Gods intentions were vocalized by an omniscient Jesus who foresaw the future.... In such a blueprint ecclesiology based on the Bible, it is clear that if Jesus wanted women priests, he would not have ordained only men.(18) Jesus of Nazareth, on the contrary, had limited knowledge of the future. From the Gospel data it is a most perilous task to probe serenely and confidently into what he thought of the future and determined as absolutely normative for priesthood.
In sum, if one applies the scholarly and ecclesiastically approved methodologies which stand behind the insight that the Gospels were gradually formed, then it is incontrovertible that Jesus of Nazareth broke with the prejudices of his time and widely contravened the discriminations practiced with regard to women. This is Jesus attitude. This is the example which is normative for the rest of the NT churches and for contemporary churches. The Church must be faithful to this example and not to the putative example of a Jesus who called only men to ministry.(19) In this regard Reumann makes a most telling point when he observes: indeed, we may say historically with more confidence that Jesus gave women a role in his ministering than we can claim Jesus, prior to Easter, instituted a Ministry with a capital M.(20)
Our discussion proceeds from the lifetime of Jesus to the earliest days of the church.
On three different occasions the Declaration is stride for stride with the best NT scholarship in highlighting the significance of Galatians 3:28 for the question of the ordination of women.(21) While calling this text one of the most vigorous texts in the New Testament on the fundamental equality of men and women, as children of God, in Christ, (22) it cautions that this passage does not concern ministries: it only affirms the universal calling to divine filiation, which is the same for all.(23)
By placing Gal 3:28 under the rubric of The Earliest Church, I call attention to a factor which the Declaration has not mentioned. Namely, Gal 3:28 is a baptismal formula which accords well with Jesus attitude toward women and probably dates from the second decade of the Christian movement. Furthermore, although Paul approved the formula by quoting it, he did not create it.(24) This baptismal formula was used by the Hellenistic churches, to which Paul was heir, to describe what the experience of the gift of the Spirit meant to them. As Fiorenza puts it:
The theological self-understanding of this early Christian movement is best expressed in the baptismal formula Gal 3:27-29. In reciting this formula the newly initiated Christians proclaimed their vision of an inclusive community. Over and against the cultural-religious pattern shared by Hellenists and Jews alike, the Christians affirmed that all social, political and religious differences were abolished in Jesus Christ.(25)
The Christians who fashioned this baptismal formula were surely faithful to Jesus radical attitude toward women. Although Gal 3:28 does not say anything directly about ministry, it has vast implications for ministry because its vision does not limit any aspect of Christian life to either of the sexes.(26)
Pauls letters(27) emerged out of the problems and needs of the early church. They were intended to correct, clarify, and direct the communal faith in Jesus.
The Declarations use of St. Pauls letters is difficult to chart within contemporary NT criticism and the recent NT discussions on the ordination of women. We will orientate some of its views within current NT criticism.
The Declaration apparently subscribes to the view that Paul authored all the letters ascribed to him.(28) This view is not favored by many within the contemporary discussion of the Pauline data.(29) Also, the Declaration capitalizes on three points which are hardly present in the genuine Pauline letters nor found in the vast majority of the scholarly discussions on the subject.
The first point is ordination.(30) Ordination is our contemporary term, and it is not helpful to introduce it into a discussion of texts which do not use it. As Reumann so aptly says: Ordination, it is well to remember, does not appear, fullblown and in our sense of the term, in the Scriptures.(31)
Secondly, the Declaration seems to limit ministry/priesthood to the official and public proclamation of the message.(32) According to the arguments proposed by the Declaration on the basis of this point, women did not engage in such proclamation because their femaleness prevented the apostles from ordaining them. To arrive at such a conclusion is not only to misread the data in the genuine Pauline epistles which abound with references to women in ministry, but also to commit the methodological sin of imposing upon the varied riches of ministry in Paul and in the NT a unilateral concept of what ministry should be.(33)
Finally, the Declaration makes a distinction between my fellow workers, and Gods fellow workers in Paul: but he [Paul] reserves the title Gods fellow workers (1 Cor 3:9; cf., 1 Thess 3:1) to Apollos, Timothy and himself, thus designated because they are directly set apart for the apostolic ministry and the preaching of the Word of God.(34) As Reumann has convincingly shown, this is a ephemeral distinction.( 35)How can one say that Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Rom16:3) is not equivalent to Gods fellow workers,? Moreover, the reading Gods fellow workers is textually suspect in 1 Thess 3:1. In the one passage in which Gods fellow workers does occur, 1 Cor 3:9, it is called forth by the rhetoric of the composition: For we are Gods fellow workers; you are Gods field, Gods building. In brief, no ephemeral distinction can annihilate the fact that it is of major theological significance that Paul calls women his fellow workers.(36)
We now turn and examine more directly the place of the Declaration in the recent discussion on what Paul has to say about the ordination of women. These discussions concentrate primarily on Gal 3:28 and the fact that Paul had female fellow workers. Since I have already dealt with Gal 3:28 in sufficient detail above, suffice it to say that the Declaration is au courant with the contemporary discussions by emphasizing the collaboration that Paul asks of women in his apostolate.(37) But as we have just seen above, the Declaration interprets this data in a strained way. Rather than introduce artificial points like ordination, official and public proclamation of the message, and the distinction between my fellow workers and Gods fellow workers, it seems much sounder to follow Paul and say that Paul, in discerning the Spirits workings in his communities clearly recognized that the Spirit called both women and men to ministry. For example, Paul recognized the gifts of prophecy and prayer given by the Spirit to women (1 Cor 11:5) and put his stamp of approval on them. There were no barriers of discrimination to prevent women from assuming leadership positions within the Pauline communities and mission.
Yet the authors of the Declaration and I are sagacious enough to realize that most readers of Paul skim over Gal 3:28 and the Pauline texts on the roles women played in ministry and pounce on the troublesome 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:34-35.(38) Within the confines of this chapter a few remarks on each passage must suffice.
Pauls main point in 1 Cor 11:2-16 is not to subordinate women. We call attention to the mutuality of men and women emphasized in 1 Cor 11:11-12:
Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
Rather, in 1 Cor 11:2-16 Paul wanted to correct an abuse which arose in the community at Corinth because of an exaggerated understanding of the implications of Gal 3:28. Carried along by the intoxicating newness of this understanding, men and women tried to abolish their sexual differences as symbolized by such things as hair style and head covering.(39) Paul strains to correct this abuse, but, as the Declaration so rightly notes,(40) he does not forbid these women from performing the ministries of praying and prophesying in the public assembly (1 Cor 11:5).
In commenting on l Cor 14:33b-36, I will resume arguments which I have developed elsewhere at greater length.(41) But first lets quote this troublesome text in the Revised Standard Version:
As in all the churches of the saints, (34) the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak (lalein), but should be subordinate, as even the law says. (35) If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak (lalein) in church. (36) What! Did the word of God originate with you, or are you the only ones it has reached?
If we view the unqualified verb to speak (lalein in Greek) of 1 Cor 14:34-35 in its context of a discussion of charismatic speech (see 1 Cor 14:2,4,5,6,9,13,18,19,21,23,27,39), then we cannot agree with the Declaration that to speak in 1 Cor 14:34-35 refers to the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly.(42) Nor is 1 Tim 2:12, I permit no woman to teach (didaskein) or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent, a legitimate interpretive parallel to the meaning of to speak in 1 Cor 14:34-35 as the Declaration intimates. For the verb to teach (didaskein in Greek) in 1 Tim 2:12 is not the same verb as to speak (lalein) in 1 Cor 14:3435 nor are the historical contexts of the two passages identical. I find persuasive Wayne Meeks view on this difficult passage: In his concern for order in the cultic assembly, Paul adds an afterthought which is expressed unfortunately in too absolute a fashion, obscuring the fact that the lalein of these women who want to enter into a discussion to learn cannot be the charismatic lalein of the context.(43) Most simply put, to speak in 1 Cor 14:34-35 means to ask a question. Paul is not forbidding women from teaching in the public assembly.
Obviously, I have barely scratched the surface of Pauls teaching about women Much more could be said. In summary, Pauls prime principle is the one he inherited and expressed in Gal 3:28. From this principle he drew insight and strength to warmly endorse those women whom Jesus called to ministry through the gifts of his Spirit. Members of Pauls community at Corinth misunderstood the implications of Gal 3:28 and initiated abuses like the teaching that marriage is wrong (see 1 Cor 7) and that all differences between male and female are to be abrogated (see 1 Cor 11:2-16). Paul struggled mightily to oppose these abuses to assimilate the teaching that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).(44) On this reading of the data of the genuine Pauline letters, Paul has been most faithful to Jesus radically new and liberating attitude toward women.(45)
Early Catholicism, to which we now turn our attention, may be a somewhat new and strange term to many readers. A few introductory remarks on this phenomenon, therefore, may be helpful. For our purposes Early Catholicism refers to the following NT writings: Luke-Acts, Colossians, Ephesians,(46) 1-2 Timothy, Titus, 1-2 Peter, and Jude. These NT books, written in the last decades of the first century or early decades of the second, are early Catholic because they
show traces of, or tendencies in the direction of, the following: the organization of the Church according to hierarchical in contrast to charismatic ministry; the development of the monarchical episcopate: an objectification of the proclamation and an emphasis upon a strictly formulated rule of faith; a stress upon orthodoxy or sound doctrine in opposition to false teaching.... a concern for ecclesiastical unity and consolidation, and an interest in the collecting of the apostolic writings.(47)
It might be said that the motto of early catholic writings is law and order.
Except in passing,(48) the Declaration does not deal with NT writings which are reputedly early catholic.(49) Thus it does not treat passages like Colossians 3:18: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord; like Ephesians 5:22: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord; like 1 Timothy 2:11-12: Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent; like Titus 2:3-5: Bid the older women likewise to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.
If these statements are Pauls, what has happened to the Paul who quoted with solemn approval the early baptismal formula in Gal 3:28? What has happened to the Paul who worked side by side with women in the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel? What has happened to the Paul who seemed so very faithful to the attitude of Jesus toward women? Many scholars answer these questions by saying that the writings which contain these harsh, anti-feminine statements do not stem from Paul, but are written by later followers in his name.(50) But whether written by Paul or not, these texts and their vision of the role of women in the Church must be addressed.
Two answers have been given to the question which the very existence of these harsh texts trumpets. The first answer proposes that, after Pauls death, gnostic heretics won over many Christians, especially women, to their views of super-realized salvation: since they were completely resurrected (see 2 Tim 2:18), why should they observe the order of creation, i.e., marriage, the value and beauty of sexual intercourse the distinctions between the sexes? To counter these abuses the authors behind these early catholic writings emphasize the order of creation. Fuller expresses this solution quite neatly: What then happened to Pauls eschatological woman? She was sacrificed to the needs of consolidation, of accommodation to the mores of contemporary society, to the threat of gnosticism. The answer to our question is that Pauls eschatological woman had probably become a gnostic!(51)
The second answer is that the dominant patriarchal model of the surroünding culture won out over the vision of Jesus and Paul with regard to women. Perhaps, John Reumann expresses this viewpoint clearest of all:
Thus Paul, building on what Jesus did and the theology and practice of the church he knew, emerges not as a chauvinist but a rare champion of the place of women as equals of men, in Christ, in the church. But the vision succumbed to the heritage of centuries in the Jewish and Greek worlds, swallowed up in the watchwords of submissiveness, silence and subordination for women as the will of God for them. The line of development which ran through the pre-Pauline and Pauline church was submerged by the stronger, older patriarchal trajectory and the reactions of the mainstream church.(52)
As the astute reader has no doubt noticed, the two answers are not mutually exclusive: part of the ammunition the Church used in its battle against the gnostics was the adaptation of the observance of the patriarchal household codes. I, therefore, agree with the view of Scroggs who combines the best points of the two answers.(53)
In sum, it seems that the Pauline communities after Paul had even more trouble than Paul himselfremember 1Corinthiansin living up to the implications of and warding off misinterpretations of the baptismal reunification formula of Gal 3:28. A considerable number of Christian women took this formula to mean that the created order was to be denied.(54) The Church restored law and order by introducing the traditional household codes and by forbidding heresy-prone women from continuing in or assuming leadership functions in the Church. Perhaps Meeks is absolutely correct when he concludes his brilliant article on how the powerful myth of the reunification of the opposites, male and female, pulsates through Gal 3:28 by observing:
Thus an extraordinary symbolization of the Christian sense of Gods eschatological action in Christ proved too dangerously ambivalent for the emerging church. After a few meteoric attempts to appropriate its power, the declaration that in Christ there is no more male and female faded into innocuous metaphor, perhaps to await the coming of its proper moment.(55)
From the rapid tour I have conducted of the landscape of the NT texts on women, it is clear that the colored glasses of the Declaration are not the only pair available.
What other conclusions can be drawn from our tour? For me one of the conclusions of the Pontifical Biblical Commission is too minimalistic: It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.(56)
More in accord with the data we have surveyed is the view of twelve of the seventeen members of the same Commission, who do not agree with their five colleagues that in the scriptures there are sufficient indications to exclude the possibility of the accession of women to the presbyterate.(57) On the contrary, these twelve think that the church hierarchy, entrusted with the sacramental economy, would be able to entrust the ministries of eucharist and reconciliation to women in light of circumstances, without going against Christs original intentions.(58) In support of their position I would say that the NT texts about ministry bequeath to us the principle of adaptation to historical circumstances.
In fidelity to the example of Jesus, Paul promoted the equality of women and sanctioned the Spirits gifts of ministry to them. After his death, members of his school found that they had to adapt his teaching to new circumstances lest gnostic women overrun the church and lest the reputation of the church be ruined because women conducted themselves unsubmissively and thus acted against the mores of their culture.(59) This principle of adaptation is articulated very well by Maly: One thing stands out from any careful study of New Testament texts relating to ministries in the Church and it is that the Church itself felt, from the very beginning, competent to establish and denominate these offices.(60)
In sum, Jesus had limited knowledge and did not engage in the dangerous art of biblical blueprint ecclesiology. His Spirit guided the Church to adapt itself to changed circumstances. The varied ministries of men and women, evidenced within the NT, are proof of the rich guidance given by the Spirit to the Church as it adapted to diverse circumstances. This principle of adaptation is surely valid today in the changed circumstances of the United States.
The other studies in this volume will be able to give additional answers to the question I posed originally: Why do the colored glasses show up the landscape in such vastly different lights?
1. Declaration, sec. 2, par. 10.
2. Declaration, sec. 3, par. 14.
3. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, "Women Apostles: The Testament of Scripture," Women and Catholic Priesthood: An Expanded Vision, Proceedings of the Detroit Ordination Conference (ea. Anne Marie Gardiner; New York: Paulist Press, 1975), 94-102 (95).
4. Fiorenza, "Women Apostles," 95-96. For the detailed analyses behind her statements, see her "Presencia de la mujer en el primitivo movimiento cristiano, Concilium 111 (1976), 9-24. For more popular presentations of her views, see "Women in the New Testament," New Catholic World 219 (No 1314, Nov./Dec., 1976), 256-260 and ''Understanding God's Revealed Word," Catholic Charismatic 1 (No 6, Feb./March, 1977), 4-10.
5. From the opening quotations (notes 3 and 4) and from subsequent references to her work, the reader will be able to discern the place which Fiorenza occupies in contemporary NT criticism and in the recent discussions about what the NT says about the ordination of women.
6. ''Pro and Con: The Ordination of Women in the New Testament," Toward a New Theology of Ordination: Essays on the Ordination of Women (ea. Marianne H. Micks; Charles P. Price; Alexandria, VA: Virginia Theological Seminary/Somerville, MA: Greeno, Hadden & Co., 1976), 1-11.
7. What in Scripture Speaks to the Ordination of Women?" Concordia Theological Monthly 44 (1973), 5-30 (6). See also The Priest and Sacred Scripture (ed. Eugene H. Maly; Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1972), 3. It is a shame that this magnificent study, commissioned and presented by the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been so widely neglected in scholarly and ecclesiastical circles.
8. In an unpublished paper given at Villanova University during the summer of 1977 and entitled "Ecclesial Recognition of the Ministry of Women: New Testament Perspectives and Contemporary Applications,'' Reumann refers to the work of Phyllis Trible, e.g., "Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation,'' Journal of fhe American Academy of Religion 41 (1973), 30-48, and intimates that a change in colored glasses from the ''priesthood/ priestess" model to a depatriarchalizing model may allow readers to see an old and familiar landscape in a new light (9-10).
9. Declaration,sec. 4, par. 19.
10. Quoted from Wayne A. Meeks, "The Image of the Androgyne: Some Uses of a Symbol in Earliest Christianity," History of Religions 13 (1973/74), 165-208 (168). This quotation, while found in a number of rabbinic sources, is perhaps most conveniently available in the Babylonian Talmud, Menahot 43b. In chapter 8 Hayim G. Perelmuter explains in greater detail how various sectors in Judaism have responded to the role of women in the post-biblical age.
11. Declaration, sec. 2, par. 13.
12. For the ecclesiastical approval of the use of these methodologies, see Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, paragraph 19 and the 1964 "Instruction Concerning the Historical Truth of the Gospels'' from the Pontifical Biblical Commission which was approved by Pope Paul VI. This latter document is most conveniently available in William G. Heidt, Inspiration, Canonicity, Texts, Versions, HermeneuticsA General Introduction to Sacred Scripture (Old-New Testament Reading Guide 31; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1970), 111-119. For a superb treatment on the question of the relationships between Jesus, the Twelve, and the apostles, see Jerome D. Quinn, "Ministry in the New Testament," Biblical Studies in Contemporary Thought: The Tenth Anniversary Commemorative Volume of the Trinity College Biblical Institute 1966-1975 (ed. Miriam Ward; Burlington, VT: Trinity College Biblical Institute/ Sommerville, MA: Greeno, Hadden, & Co., 1975), 130-160 (131-137).
13. Declaration, sec. 3, par. 14. For an appreciation of the critical methodologies being discussed here and their application to Gospel texts, see Norman Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).
14. See Raymond E. Brown, Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections (New York: Paulist Press, 1970), 47-73; Beda Rigaux, ''The Twelve Apostles," Apostolic Succession: Rethinking a Barrier to Unity (Concilium 34; New York: Paulist Press, 1968) 5-15. To understand how moderate the position of Brown and Rigaux really is, one should contrast it with Walter Schmithals, The Office of Apostle in the Early Church (trans. John E. Steely; Nashville: Abingdon, 1969).
15. Declaration, sec. 2, par. 12-13.
16. The weakness of the Declaration's argument is patent if one reads Romans 16:7 to refer to a woman, Junia, who is an apostle. See Fiorenza, "Women Apostles," (95-96).
17. Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church (New York: Paulist Press, 1975), 54.
18. Brown, Crises, 52-53.
19. In passing, it should be mentioned that the Declarations principle of fidelity to the example of the Lord is not sufficiently precise or clear. By what principle has it selected one factor, maleness, as the one to which the Church must be faithful and excluded others of similar importance to which the Church does not have to be faithful, e.g., the Twelve were Jews, not Gentiles; bearded, not clean-shaven; married, not subject to mandatory celibacy?
20. "Ecclesial Recognition," 14.
21. Declaration, sec. 4, par. 20; sec. 5, par. 28; sec. 6, par. 28. See the high value placed on this passage by Fiorenza, ''Women Apostles," 95; Meeks, ''The Image of the Androgyne"; R. Scroggs, "Woman in the NT," Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume (Nashville: Abingdon, 1976), 966-968 (966).
22. Declaration, sec. 4, par. 20.
23. Declaration, sec. 6, par. 36.
24. See Fiorenza, Women Apostles, 95-96. For the arguments that Gal 3:28 is a pre-Pauline baptismal formula, see Robin Scroggs, ''Paul and the Eschatological Woman," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 40 (1972) 282-303 (291-293); Scroggs, ''Paul and the Eschatological Woman: Revisited,'' Journal of the American Academy of Religion 42 (1974) 532-537 (533); Meeks, "The Image of the Androgyne," 180-181, 203 n 153; Hans Dieter Betz, Spirit, Freedom, and Law: Paul's Message to the Galatian Churches, Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 39(1974) 145-160 (147-151).
25. "Women Apostles," 95.
26. See the accurate, if slightly overdrawn, remarks of John McKenzie: ''We have rigorously universalized 1Cor 14:33-36 far beyond its context; we have not been equally rigorous with Gal 3:28, a verse which admits the ministry of women as clearly as any biblical passage admits anything." See his ''Ministerial Structures in the New Testament," The Plurality of Ministries (Concilium 74; New York: Herder and Herder, 1972), 13-22 (22).
27. For a more popular presentation of my views on this subject, see ''St. Paul and Women," Catholic Charismatic 1 (No 6, Feb./March, 1977), 31-32.
23. There is considerable scholarly doubt today whether Paul wrote more than the indisputedly authentic "Big Seven": Romans, Galatians, 1-2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, and 1Thessalonians. It is sound methodology to use with caution data from the disputedly genuine Pauline letters in the construction of an argument that such or such a point is Pauline, for it is not commonly accepted that this data actually stems from Paul.
29. See, e.g., Scroggs, "Eschatological Woman," 284 and Fuller, ''Pro and Con," 8.
30. Declaration, sec. 3, par. 14-17
31. ''What in Scripture," 5.
32. Declaration, sec. 3, par. 17; sec. 4, par. 20.
33. See the excellent, but as yet unpublished paper delivered by Mary Ann Getty at the Cleveland conference on the Ordination of Women, February, 1977: "New Testament Reflections on Women and Ministry." In a sustained argument of twenty five pages Getty rightly and tellingly scores the Declaration for this methodological shortcoming. In the NT there are the ministries of apostle, prophet, teacher, deacon, presbyter, and bishopto name only the ones most familiar to us today.
34.Declaration, sec. 3, par. 16.
35. "Ecclesial Recognition," 21.
36. For an overview of the data under discussion see the article by E. Earle Ellis ''Paul and His Co-Workers," New Testament Studies 17 (1970/71), 437-452.
37. Declaration, sec. 4, par. 20.
38. The Declaration treats these passages in sec. 4, par. 20. Both the Declaration (apparently) and I cannot follow the lead of William O. Walker, Jr., " 1Corinthians and Paul's Views Regarding Women," Journal of Biblical Literature 94 (1975) 94-110, who solves the problems generated by 1Cor 11:2- 16 by arguing that the passage is a later interpolation. See the effective counterarguments of Jerome Murphy-O'Connor "The Non-Pauline Character of 1Corinthians 11:2-16?" Journal of Biblical Literature 95 (1976) 615-621. I do not adhere to the position of Scroggs, "Eschatological Woman," 284, that 1Cor 14:33b-36 is a post-Pauline gloss. See the persuasive argument of Meeks, ''The Image of the Androgyne," 203-204, that 1Cor 14:33b-36 is Pauline.
39. See the arguments of Scroggs, "Eschatological Woman," 297-302 and Meeks, "The Image of the Androgyne," 199-203.
40. Declaration, sec. 4, par. 20.
41. "Women in the Pauline Assembly: To Prophesy, but not to Speak?" scheduled to appear in the forthcoming commentary on the Declaration edited by Arlene and Leonard Swidler.
42.Declaration, sec. 4, par. 20.
43. ''The Image of the Androgyne," 204.
44. See Elaine H. Pagels, ''Paul and Women: A Response to Recent Discussion," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 42 (1974), 538 549, esp. 544-548: Paul is a man in conflict who champions liberty, but is also desirous of order. Pagels' insight into Paul is shared by Reumann, "What in Scripture," 30, who expresses it in terms of "realized eschatology" and "eschatological reserve": "First Corinthians 11, on this reading, turns out to be the key passage: Paul allows women to pray and prophesy in church, because it is a prompting of the Spirit that moves them; this overcomes all the inclinations from his Jewish heritage; at the same time he regulates this ministry, like all gifts of the Spirit, so that it will really build up the body of Christ, the people of God, and not cause offense at the wrong points."
45. For a similar conclusion, see A. Feuillet, "La dignité et le rôle de la femme d'après quelques textes pauliniens: comparaison avec l'Ancien Testament," New Testament Studies 21 (1974/75), 157-191.
46. I follow the lead of Fuller, "Pro and con," 8 in placing Colossians and Ephesians here.
47. John H. Elliott, "A Catholic Gospel: Reflections on 'Early Catholicism' in the New Testament,'' Catholic Biblical Quarterly 31 (1969), 213-223 (214). This article also contains a basic bibliography on the subject. For a very positive approach to the significance of "early Catholicism," see Reginald H. Fuller, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament (London: Duckworth, 1966), 166-167, 196-197.
48. Declaration,sec. 4, par. 20 on 1Tim 2:12.
49. By neglecting these passages, the authors of the Declaration may have noticed along with others, e.g., Reumann, "What in Scripture," 12, that these texts on subordination may not be pertinent to the discussion since they refer to wives and husbands and not to women and men in general.
50. See, e.g., Scroggs, ''Eschatological Woman," 284.
51. ''Pro and Con,'' 9; see James E. Crouch, The Origin and Intention of the Colossian Haustafel (Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 109; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972).
52. "Ecclesial Recognition," 23. See also Fiorenza, ''Women Apostles,'' 97-99.
53. "Woman in the NT," 968.
54. See Meeks, ''The Image of the Androgyne," 203-208.
55. ''The Image of the Androgyne," 208.
56. The translation is from Origins, 96.
57. The translation is from Origins, 96.
58. The translation is from Origins, 96. A similar conclusion is arrived at by Manuel Miguens, Church Ministry in New Testament Times (Arlington, VA: Christian Culture Press, 1976), 140.
59. It should be obvious that our American circumstances do not envisage a gnostic women in every church or even every other church. Our culture does not countenance at least legally the discriminatory subordination of women. For a similar point, see Fuller, "Pro and Con," 9-10.
60. The Priest and Sacred Scripture, 39. See also McKenzie, ''Ministerial Structures." 21-22.
|Contents of Women and Priesthood book||Support our campaign||Sitemap||Contemporary theologians||Join Campaign activities||Go back to home page|
This website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.
You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.
Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.
The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.