On the topic of the role of women in the Church

Prepared by Scarlett Stough

These books are by no means the only ones available on the topic of the role and status of women in the Christian Church. These four were very helpful to me when I began to look for answers to the inconsistencies between the traditional interpretation of women as passive members and the active roles that women of the Bible carried out. As with any material compiled and commented on by fallible human beings, the reader must evaluate and carefully consider it. Please read the "The Guidelines for Research Reading," in which I describe my own method of evaluation which I hope will be helpful to you as well.

The Bible status of Woman (1926) by Lee Anna Starr; Garland Publishing, Inc. N.Y. London 1987

Although this book is out of print, my local library, which is quite small, borrowed it for me from a large library in a nearby city. I was only able to keep it for a week. Since this is a long volume written in an academic style and the formal language of the 1920’s, this was not nearly long enough to fully examine the material in it. I did take some notes. The author starts in Genesis and works her way through the Bible giving alternate translations out of the original Hebrew text (Greek in the New Testament). She also brings a new perspective that allows for reasonable alternate interpretations. It is difficult reading, but well worth the effort if you can find a copy.

I Suffer Not A Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in light of Ancient Evidence by Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger; Published by Baker Books; Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516 (1992)

This is a recent publication which I purchased last year (2000). The authors use historical and archaeological evidence to present an alternate interpretation to the traditional one that forbids women to teach or hold positions of responsibility according to Paul's letter to Timothy. There is extensive information about the role of women in pagan worship and the implications this has for the interpretation of Paul's instructions regarding women.

Women Restored by Jimmilea Berryhill, MA; Published by Jubilee Publications Morrilton, Arkansas 72110 (1999)

This is a manuscript that began as a research thesis for Mrs. Berryhill’s Master’s degree. I purchased it at a women's conference that was held in Branson, Missouri. The subtitle is “A Study of Women in the First Century, Their Lives, Their roles, Their Subsequent Effect on Christianity.” She did an extensive research into this topic and shares her sources in the End notes. The author looks at the Jewish roots of Christianity, Jesus’ interaction with women, the pagan goddess worship of the time, and the Hellenistic influence to , in her words, “review the social, cultural, and religious atmosphere surrounding first century societies.” Its value is in presenting an historical background for biblical teachings and to provide further resources for study. You may be able to purchase a copy through the publisher.

Woman Be Free: The Clear Message of Scripture by Patricia Gundry ; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI (1977)

This is actually the first book that I read on this subject. It is the easiest to read and understand of these four, but it still offers a different perspective on the scriptures that seem to support the passive role that women have been forced into accepting. It also offers encouragement to those who desire to serve God in whatever way He equips them to serve.