The Books that Helped Me Change My Mind about Women in Ministry (written before 2003)
I changed my mind in favor of supporting women in ministry around 2003, while I was in seminary. In this post, I will mention a few books then that moved me along on this issue towards that change. In a separate post I will point to more recent works of note.
Craig Keener, Paul, Women, and Wives. Here is a conservative, biblical scholar who is absolutely brilliant, and he had answers to a lot of my questions. Craig is always careful with his scholarship not to overstate what the evidence can prove.
Beck and Blomberg, ed. Two Views on Women in Ministry. On the “pro” side you have Keener and Belleville, on the “not-pro” side you have Schreiner and Blomberg. This book helped me see the strengths of various arguments and how the “other side” would respond.
Ben Witherington, Women in the Earliest Churches. Back then, Ben was someone I admired greatly as a biblical scholar and thought-leader for pastors—and I still love his work, but he is slowing down just a little bit! He made his case with penetrating insight and good scholarship.
Gordon Fee—commentaries. In seminary, I spent ample time in the commentaries of Gordon Fee, esp on 1 Corinthians and Philippians (and also check out his little 1-2 Timothy, Titus NIBC volume). For me, there is no better role model of the passionate and wise biblical scholar than Fee. His exegetical work was significant towards turning me in favor of women in ministry.
Ronald Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothius, and Gordon Fee, Discovering Biblical Equality. This book was a bombshell for me. Here, all in one place, several expert scholars tackled virtually all of the tough issues related to women in marriage and ministry. Even today, there is nothing that compares in size and scope to DBE! I was especially attracted to Howard Marshall’s essay on the Household Codes. I still refer to back to that today when I teach or write on Col/Eph.
Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women. When I was at Gordon-Conwell, Bauckham’s influence and status were on the rise. He is considered one of the most weighty NT scholars in the world. So when he did the spadework on the women in the Gospels, I was hooked. READ THIS BOOK!
William Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. This book put words to some hermeneutical thoughts and questions I had. Whether or not you end up agreeing with Webb, it is a must-read. Webb has forced Christians to think about the ultimate ethics behind Scripture and how we might discern what those ethics are. This was a missing piece I needed.
Linda Belleville, Women Leaders and the Church. This book is clear, concise, and hit all the major concerns. She also introduced me to the work of Brooten, where I learned about what leadership titles women had in the ancient Jewish synagogues.
Klyne Snodgrass, “A Biblical and Theological Basis for Women in Ministry” (The Evangelical Covenant Church). I was very interested in evangelical denominations wrestling with questions about women in ministry. Klyne and his committee did their research on this and came out supporting women in ministry. Klyne is a trusted evangelical scholar, a Gospels expert, he also knows his way around Paul’s letters. I appreciate the ECCs work on this issue.
Ruth Tucker and Walter Liefeld, Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministryfrom New Testament Times to the Present. This is a massive book (450+ pp.) which gave me a sense of women in ministry not only in the early church, but throughout history.