“Mary: Mother May I? Finding Hope for Restoration Women in Mary’s Priestly Sacrifice Presented in Luke”

Mother, May I?

The division over women’s roles and their supposed inability to address theological issues within the Restoration churches is the impetus for this paper. Of particular importance are two concerns. If a husband’s rule over his wife is inviolable as established by the creation narrative in Genesis, why in Luke’s gospel does God send a messenger to Mary without gaining her husband Joseph’s consent? If a woman is ill-equipped to discuss theological matters, why does Luke present Mary doing so in the Magnificat?

Mary, a historical Jewish woman bound in contractual marriage to Joseph, finds herself facing a dilemma: should she follow religious, cultural norms or disregard these to participate in the mission of God? Mary lives at the crossroads of a new century, but most importantly, at the beginning of a new age. Mary witnesses the death, burial and resurrection of her son and participates at Pentecost and becomes Luke’s paradigmatic example for all women. I propose that Mary, possessing self-agency apart from her husband, is rewarded for accepting the priestly call to offer her life in service to God and that her theological acuity allows us to locate her as a co-worker in what Paul later coined the ministry of reconciliation. 1

Disunity in the Brotherhood

While researching 1 Tim 2:11-12 in the spring of 2013 to determine the basis for restricted female roles in the church and academy, Christian Standard published an article spotlighting the trend to train “more women than ever in homiletics and expository preaching” in several of our colleges. 2

The article received mixed reviews with many disputing this “trend” on biblical grounds. In a follow-up article, the president of the college featured in the article attempted to clarify their Biblical rationale that allowed women to participate in preaching classes. 3

In no time at all, two theology professors entered into the fray publishing online their contention that women should not preach or teach “on occasion” as argued in the earlier article, revealing deep inconsistencies on this matter. 4

The inconsistencies about women teaching and preaching persist at my alma mater as well, as two scenarios reveal. Aware of these inconsistencies when asked to substitute teach for a male professor, I sought counsel from the president and discovered his chief concern—had the male professor initiated the request or had I? Since I had not, in his mind, the male professor’s initiation revealed no ulterior motive on my part to usurp his authority thereby freeing me to teach. On the subject of women preaching, a NT professor and author of commentaries offered a surprising and unexpected viewpoint: as long as the female preacher’s husband is not present while she preaches she is free to fill a pulpit. 5

Discord at ICOM

In the fall of 2014 at ICOM, an international conference for missions for the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ,6 two workshops were available. Each focused on 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Both workshops addressed the issues of women as preachers and the woman’s role in our Restoration churches. Here again, as shown above, a deep divide among our brotherhood prevails.

The first workshop, “Bossy Women and the Bride of Christ: Reclaiming Leadership for the Church,” featured Mandy Smith, a female pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. 7 Smith suggested that women can hold a full-time preaching position as long as she herself experiences a hēsychia, a type of peace which allows the woman to settle the matter of this service between herself and God. 8 Tension permeated the room.

Men and women voiced stern disapproval, thereby revealing their own lack of peace with Smith’s conclusions.

The second workshop, Are We Preaching a Different Bible, featured four Restoration church male leaders in missions and in the local church. 9 Pemberton and Congdon, from the west coast, affirmed a women’s full participation. Castillo, founder of Vida Nueva Ministries in Mexico and 2013 ICOM president stated his country held to male leadership, apologizing because his country lagged behind the United States.

Caldwell indicated his Midwestern church followed the biblical mandate for a male-only leadership. He registered his own disapproval that his own grandmother had filled a preaching role in the early days of the Restoration movement. Yet, he confessed to ordaining a woman for a counseling career by appealing to scripture’s silence on the matter. 10

The division between the four speakers mirrored that in the audience. Tension again filled the room.

Lest it appear this is only this present generation’s struggle, I share one last story. In a recent StonedCampellDisciple.com article, author Valentine recounts an ongoing discussion that took place in 1888 between Silena Holman, and David Lipscomb, editor of The Gospel Advocate.

“We are a peculiar people she [Holman] said! Reminding us of Rooster Cogburn, she laments that many only know one passage in the Bible, “Let your women be silent!” In a remarkable move, she states that all Scripture must be understood in its wider context.  It is dangerous to base our ideas on only one passage.”

“Bobby Valentine, “Silena Moore Holman: New Woman & Exegetical Conscience of Churches of Christ,” Stoned-Campbell Disciple Blog, 28 Jan. 16, http://stonedcampbelldisciple.com.

Lipscomb, according to Valentine, did not take the verses to their literal conclusion that women cannot speak in church, but he did interpret them to mean “women have no actual place other than the pew,” reasoning thus because “God, by design had intended women for only a domestic sphere.” 11 Kathy

Kathy Pulley suggests Lipscomb’s view of women who “disobey Paul’s command on silence would lead women to eternal death,” and it explained the rationale for the “lack of public authoritative role[s] for women” in the church. 12

Each of the situations described above— preaching on occasion, preaching full-time, assisting in teaching academic classes when invited by a male leader, the freedom to preach as long as the husband is out of earshot of the wife’s message — concern the matter of who is a woman’s rightful head. How one settles this matter will either allow for a woman’s full participation in church-related leadership positions or it will completely disallow women from all leadership positions.

These issues form the core of the ongoing egalitarianism, complementarianism, and patriarchal hierarchicalism disputes in the church which are currently paraded on social media in virtual and verbal fisticuff battles in the blogosphere. 13

It is vital for Restoration churches, founded upon the NT early church in Acts, to re-examine these stubbornly held viewpoints. Although I foresee no simple solution to the question of a woman’s role in church or academy in the near future, this paper looks at Mary presented by Luke 1:26-38, in hopes of resolving the 21st century clashes of headship, patriarchy, and women’s ministry in our brotherhood.

Before examining our text in Luke, we must understand how the view that the husband is the woman’s rightful head came to be determined. This requires investigating conflicting viewpoints of male domination and a female’s desire as presented in Genesis.

The Concept of ‘Woman’s Desire’ in Genesis 3:16

Important to our study of Genesis and Mary are the interpretive concerns revealed in the work of Susan Foh. Foh’s work focused on the Hebrew word, teshuqoth, translated by NRSV, NASB, NIV, and KJV in English as “desire” in Gen 3:16b. The Message translated this word, “please your husband,” and The Net Bible, claiming on its title page to use a “new approach to translation” translates the word, “will want to control your husband,” indicating their translation appeals to Foh’s work. 14

The LXX translated the Hebrew word with the Greek word apostrophē, meaning, “turning back” or “turning away from” or “longing for” depending on the context. 15

In her 1975 article, Foh examined the teshuqoth and concluded this marked the “[b]eginning of the battle of the sexes … [because after] the fall, man no longer rules easily; he must fight for headship. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship, and he must master her, if he can. So the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny and domination. 16

She reiterates this later in Women and the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism, “the headship of the husband [was] established by God at creation.”17

According to Foh, experience supports these conclusions because women in culture “contend with [husbands] for leadership in their relationship. This is a result of and a just punishment for sin, but it is not God’s decretive will for the woman. Consequently, the man must actively seek to rule his wife.” 18

Well, there we have it concretely cemented in the scriptures for generations to read. The husband is “to rule” as set in the eternal plan and the woman’s role is to submit. But not all scholars agreed with Foh.

A few years before Foh’s study on “desire,” Phyllis Trible’s optimism for mutuality in male and female relationships framed her study, Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation. Trible, although agreeing somewhat with Foh’s conclusion regarding the woman’s desire and the husband’s ruling as a “divine judgment upon the woman,” imagined a possible reversal between the sexes as revealed in Song of Solomon. During what she calls a “terror of history,” Trible saw “another garden [that reveals] the recovery of mutuality in love” for those living in the ancient patriarchal past. 19

Walter Kaiser, on the other hand, disagrees completely with Foh’s conclusions stating that the “curse …[that] men [unfortunately] will rule over women” is just that, “a curse passage that predicts what will happen when women “turn” toward their husbands instead of turning to God.” 20

Necessary to our study is recent research that reexamines the word “desire” in Gen 3:16b in Janson C. Condren’s 2017 article, “Toward a Purge of the Battle of the Sexes and ‘Return’ for the Original Meaning of Genesis 3:16b.” 21Condren claims Foh’s conclusion is misguided. He argues instead that the word carries the meaning of a “notion of a movement back toward a place of original belonging,” explaining this “fits well with an interpretation that sees Eve returning to original intimacy with her husband.” 22

In accepting Condren’s research, we may postulate a woman, Eve, acutely aware of her own culpability, along with Adam, in bringing sin, death, and alienation from God to humanity longed for and anticipated a day of restoration of their relationship prior to sin and yearned for the reconciliation of all humanity to their Creator. Condren’s research yields a more holistic and healthier conclusion for all humanity. The idea of restoration and reconciliation brings to mind the parable of the prodigal son, found only in Luke’s gospel (Luke 15:11-23). After squandering his inheritance the prodigal longed for restoration with his father.

Paul’s letter to Philemon, written before the gospel of Luke, pictures the idea of a restored harmony through the ministry of reconciliation as expressed practically between Philemon, and Onesimus his runaway slave (Phlm 15-17; 2 Cor 5: 18-19). Paul asks Philemon to welcome Onesimus at his private table just as he would welcome Paul. In Paul’s culture this sharing of a meal indicated a “sacramental act signifying acceptance on a very deep level.” 23 Surely Luke heard of Paul’s counsel to Philemon. If so, this undoubtedly stands behind Luke’s account in Acts of the life-altering effects of the Holy Spirit upon disparate peoples who come together in “one accord” in the early church. 

Had the translation team for the NET Bible looked deeper into the meaning of the word “desire,” the text of Genesis 3:16b in the NET Bible might better read, Eve “will long to be restored to a right, intimate relationship,” longing for a state of harmony with her husband, instead of “You will want to control your husband.” 24 Since Gen 3:16b follows on the heels of Gen 3:15, it possibly portrays the ongoing struggle of daily existence for all humanity waiting in anticipation for the Messiah to set the world right again.

Foh’s conclusion focuses primarily on Adam and Eve in Eden as a married couple. After the fall, the husband must seek to control his wife, remaining alert to her wily attempts to usurp his rightful authority. Foh’s view fails to factor single men and women into the theory, thereby limiting the creation account to married couples and not to humanity as a whole.

Taken to its natural conclusion, one might surmise the narrator of Genesis expects a society where man and woman live in a married relationship with ongoing submission of the wife to the husband enforced by the husband’s domination. Failing to do so might be interpreted as violation of God’s intention for humanity, as suggested by Foh. The injunction to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth may expect this married state (Gen 1:28).

Phyllis Bird sees the “intended partnership” as one that “implies a partnership of equals,” but she follows Foh’s interpretation that “the sign of this disturbed relationship” is the woman’s desire and the husband’s rule of her, with “[t]he companion of chapter 2 … becom[ing] a master.”25

It is a challenge for translators and Bible scholars to get past Foh’s influence on the text. Years ago, Bird made an interesting statement regarding Karl Barth’s work, which I find apropos here. “It is the fact that his [I insert ‘Foh’s’] work is so widely accepted as definitive exegesis, obviating or impeding independent access to the text.” 26 It seems to me that attempts on Foh’s part to curtail the rise of feminism in the church in the 80s, may have resulted in an unfortunate interpretation that continues to restrict women decades later.

This presents important questions for our look at Mary. How did Mary think about her role as woman in her day? Beulah Wood accurately states that “Mary did not live in a world where women dreamed of career success.” 27 Does Luke understand the role of husband and wife in this way?

Is there a better way to understand Genesis 3:16b? Did Mary, like Eve, long for the day when Messiah would put the world to order again? If so, did Mary fulfill rather than violate God’s mandate for husband and wife relationships?

Tampering with Divine Authority

This centuries-long conflict over male and female roles in the church is not unique to Restoration churches. Lifeway censored a blogger, who graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and served a Southern Baptist Convention church, for identifying herself as reverend. 28 Some commentators writing about women in ministry present interpretations presupposing their own denominational ecclesiology. Others have offered downright, frightening advice. Such is William Hendriksen, who sixty years ago warned that women actually “tamper[ed] with divine authority” when contemplating the forbidden role of teaching. 29

This sounds extreme to our post-modern ears, but sadly this way of thinking is present in many churches. This stance is a hindrance to those outside the church and is accordingly offensive to many within. Experiencing disillusionment with how the matter is resolved or either swept under the rug by church leaders, many choose to leave the church.30

In “Why Women Should Be Preaching in the Churches of Christ“, Robert Randolph notes the increase in the “pipeline in church-related colleges and universities of young women preparing for public work as ministers in the church.” He recognizes the problem this creates when these women, upon graduation “find doors shut” to ministry opportunities, and rightly predicts that they may “[n]ot all …go quietly.” 31

This is not a woman-only concern. It adversely generates angst among young men as well. The traditional understanding which posits men as the dominating head in the relationship causes torment and leads many to avoid committed relationships altogether. Randolph genuinely wonders if “behind this charade [keeping women out of ministry] is a fundamental fear of women that makes many men tremble” or if what really lies behind women’s exclusion are men “being challenged by talents they are unprepared to match.”32

This brings us to an important question: Who is a woman’s rightful head? Does Genesis teach that wives everywhere are bound by a decree that their husbands must be alert to her wily attempts to undermine his God-given role as her authoritative head? What might we learn from Luke’s account of Mary about a woman’s rightful head?

Who Is Mary’s Rightful Head?

How can the average woman or man in the pew navigate the conflicting teachings? Many claim that the foundation for role distinctions is found in the creation and fall account recorded in Genesis. What might Luke’s account of women in the first century church reveal about his understanding of the Genesis passages, particularly from the record of Mary and Gabriel’s encounter in Luke 1:26-36?

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is frequently used to determine a woman’s rightful head. In Headship, Submission, and the Bible: Gender Roles in the Home, Jack Cottrell explains how the Ephesian passages in chapter five (and most likely all similar passages) indeed indicate wives as “obligated to submit to their husbands as children are obligated to obey their parents.33 He goes on to say that, “both are commands with an equal weight of divine authority behind them,” thus leaving little wiggle room for a woman to do anything without her husband’s approval. 34 Sadly this view not only diminishes the wife’s free agency, but I believe, stunts her emotional and spiritual maturity, keeping her in a perpetual state of girlish-dependency.

When asked to participate in biblically illicit activities she feigns innocence, or keeps silent when her husband is on the brink of making a disastrous decision, deluding herself it is best to heed the word of her husband. When called to account, she resorts to the age-old blame game from Genesis: the husband whom you gave me told me to, therefore I submitted in obedience, just as the word of God teaches. A look at Genesis should help determine if this is a correct understanding or a misconstrual of male and female relationships.

Two opposing views predominantly control this discussion. One view holds to a hierarchy present before the fall—because man is created first he is primary—the woman created second, is in an ongoing submissive state to the male. “The first line of evidence for male headship,” according to Cottrell, is due to the fact that, in Genesis 2, “the male is the center and the subject of the entire narrative … [and] everything else, including the woman has a supporting role.”35 The second view sees man and woman created equal in Eden stating the simultaneous creation indicates the precise moment when both the male and the female come into existence. This view accepts the male and female sharing in the activity of ruling and subduing the earth, but rejects any manner of ruling over each other. Garr explains how this idea of equality works.

Since “both of their identities as human beings are derived from the one flesh of ha-adam … it is clear that “the ‘earth creature’ does not become sexually differentiated until the divine act radically alters to create woman and man together as one flesh.” It should be obvious, that “no differentiation is made between male and female in terms of temporal priority or function. Their creation occurs simultaneously and only together is their creative role described.” … “[s]urely this is a witness of absolute equality.36

Trible claims Adam’s declaration in Gen 2:23, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” upon first seeing the woman, indicates a “unity, solidarity, mutuality, and equality” between the two differentiated beings. 37

According to Goldingay, “[w]hile neither Genesis 1 nor Genesis 2 suggests that one sex has authority over the other,” he questions if we can be certain the text “implied an egalitarian understanding of the relationship,” yet says “the linking of hierarchy and authority with disobedience … retrospectively support the view that the story’s implicit vision is an egalitarian one.”38

Both views acknowledge the fall as the operative occasion that adversely altered the male/female relationship. Genesis 3:14-19 gives the account of the fall in which the blame-game ensues. Bushnell reprimands Adam for “accus[ing] God to His face of being Himself that remote cause –in giving the woman to be with him.”39 The woman blames the serpent for beguiling her (Gen 3:8-13). God doles out the consequences—the serpent slinks on his belly eating dust (Gen 3:14,15); the ground which man toils is cursed (3:17-19); death is a return to dust (3:19). For the woman, pain in birthing is greatly increased (3:16a), yet, her “desire shall be” for her husband who will rule over her (Gen 3:16b). The two different interpretations described above articulate in exceptionally diverse ways how the fall into sin altered humanity.

Those holding the first view—husband ruled and wife submitted at creation—calculate this sin-event as confirming, and exaggerating the essential nature of men to rule and of women to submit.40 Thus, it is realized in a variety of spheres—home, church, society—with the male leading and female following. In my mind, this view smacks too much of the now-refuted, Aristotelian “theory of sex-polarity” which sadly introduced “a metaphysical foundation for an imbalanced exchange of love between husband and wife” with the superior husband ruling the inferior wife that continues today. 41

Those holding the second view— of equality— argue Paul teaches a return to an Edenic state of equality expressed in the church (Gal 3:28), albeit in varying degrees.42

This view reflects the ancient Platonic view of matter, in which the sex of the individual is immaterial to the human person. 43

As the opposite of Aristotle’s sex-polarity, Plato’s sex-unity overlooks the value of the material body’s contribution in present reality with the body viewed as a restricting mantle to discard.44 In this pursuit, “woman and man have the same goal, namely to become separate from all bodily aspects of their identity, including sexual differentiation as male or female.” 45

This view of equality, like that of the hierarchical view, is also lived out in a variety of spheres—home, marriage, church, society and politics—with minimal regard to a person’s biological sex. It argues that a male or female can fill multiple roles without discrimination. We see this concept taken to the extreme in the mid 20th century. The Jewish kibbutz in Israel held a “deep commitment to equality between the sexes.” The Jewish kibbutz rejected the nuclear family because it “foster[ed] and perpetuat[ed] sexual inequality,” so they sought to “eliminate, as much as possible, the institution of the family.” 46

But familial relationships are important in Luke as both Elizabeth and Zacharias, and Mary and Joseph, nurtured their sons within a family environment. John, grew “strong in the spirit” (1:80), and Jesus matured in “wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man (2: 40, 51-2, KJV). Both Elizabeth and Mary’s pain in childbearing and the tragic deaths of their sons is like unto “the pain of motherhood that Eve …experience[d] when she hear[d] that her first son …killed her second son,” which continues “the history of the wearing out of womanhood by motherhood.” 47

To answer the question, who is Mary’s rightful head? depends upon which of the different views concerning creation one accepts. If we accept the first view— in which the husband is the head to whom the woman submits, and add Foh’s interpretation of “desire,” we easily conclude Mary usurped Joseph’s authority. Continuing with Foh’s argument, Joseph too failed by acquiescing, by neglecting to guard against letting his wife lead.

The equalitarian view— male and female relate mutually without dominating one another, with reversible roles for both sexes—seems to fit well with what we see Luke describing of Mary and Joseph’s relationship. Yet, this egalitarian view fails as well. God’s plan required a woman’s body to facilitate the birth of his son, a function obviously unattainable for the man Joseph.

Herein lies our problem. Both interpretations of the Genesis passages interpret the text from a modern worldview attempting to solve modern-era issues. Since neither of these views regarding the male/female relationship solves our question regarding Mary’s head, we must reexamine how the creation account is understood by understanding it from a Hebrew mindset. Walton’s work, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, provides the necessary insight into the Hebrew mindset. 48

Mary Ushers in the New Age: Examining the Text of Luke 1 & 2

Luke gives only a small glimpse of Mary, the mother of Jesus who lived in the latter years of Herod the Great’s reign, when “Palestine …was occupied by [Roman] imperialists (1:5) 49 These times generated an unsettling mood since many recognized Herod as a pawn for Rome, yet the city of Jerusalem bustled with energy due to the brilliance of Herod’s building projects. Herod levied enormous taxes to finance monumental construction endeavors “benefact[ing] pagan cities and temples as well as Jewish cities and the temple of Jerusalem.”50 His audacious restoration of the Jewish temple and his “series of construction projects left the most indelible mark on the land of any Jewish ruler.”51 But jealousy consumed Herod. Sadly, Caesar Augustus failed to reconcile Herod and his three sons before suspicion and fear of political upheaval triggered the murder of three sons and one of his wives around 7 or 6 B.C.52

If ever a faithful Jew longed for a hero from the lineage of David to fill the throne, one who could restore the kingdom to its former glory, and one who would “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,” it was surely now (1:17; Mal 4:5, 6, HCS)! The NRSV and NIV muddy the text when translating paterōn with “of parents” instead “of fathers.”53 No doubt Mary, living roughly 104 kilometers north of Jerusalem, wondered what her future held with a deranged king like Herod on the throne.

Luke draws attention to Zacharias and Elizabeth’s faithfulness, their uprightness of character and blamelessness in obeying the law, contrasting them to leaders put in place by Herod (1: 6,7). “The striking characteristic of most Jewish leaders before Herod” according to Stanford, is that “authority invested in the religious role of the priests.”54

But Herod in “destroy[ing] the old Hasmonaean ruling class in Judaea … systematically undermined the reputation of the high priesthood by appointing men of insignificant families, dissolving the principle of hereditary succession.”55 Luke subtly shows the priestly institution—inaugurated at Sinai— and the nation called to be a “priestly kingdom and holy nation” is near the end of their usefulness (Ex. 19:6; 2 Pet 2:5, 9).56 I propose that Luke presents Mary as a new type of priest, the first among many to come in the new priesthood of all believers.

Can we know Mary, really? Bird reminds us that “to understand women’s role and experience we must learn from women directly, as well as from men’s representation of them.”57 Many scholars now acknowledge that “women who appear in the biblical texts are the literary creations of male authors.”58

For all we know, Luke’s “Mary” may be an ideal mis/representation of the more common Mary who gave birth to Jesus. Kozar reads “Luke’s Gospel … as a dangerous text for [the] feminist,” and doubts Luke’s reputation as “a special ‘friend’ of women” because he seems to portray Elizabeth and Mary as “powerful,” women in the first portion of the narrative, but then throughout the rest of the narrative “incrementally … places women in a position of subordinate service under the headship of legitimate male leadership.”59 Stanford’s published dissertation on the people who met Jesus and the apostles presents a different analysis altogether. Stanford contends that Luke highlights “all women …as autonomous in that no-one at all, whether man or woman, in either the Gospel or Acts tells a woman to do, or not do, anything,” which he believes removes the negativity of patriarchalism so prevalent in feminist interpretations.60

Why did Luke write? And why did he portray women, particularly Mary, as he did? In order to grasp more fully Luke’s purpose in writing the Gospel (and Acts), a look at Du Plessis’s analysis of Luke 1:1-4 helps. Du Plessis says Luke indeed used “conventional Greek form[s] and vocabulary … [and] rhetorical style,” but explains that he “adapted them to suit his [own] purpose.”61

His purpose was not to draw important lessons from history, as it was the case of other Greek historians, but to serve Christianity with a true report of God acting in history. For Luke, historical facts are only meaningful when they are interpreted and ordered within the framework of this central truth.62

I am inclined to agree with Du Plessis, who continues, “Mere historical research is not sufficient for a reliable report; the right theological understanding, based on the belief in the God who acts in history gives the historical data meaning.”63 Only after the data is “historically verified and theologically reflected” upon by Luke, can a “historically and theologically reliable report of the whole salvation event” be complete.64

Those who tackle the difficult texts in the Bible—without accepting God’s ongoing intervention in the world— ultimately fail to comprehend the depth and breadth of the theological meaning found in all of scripture. Therefore, the gospel according to Luke and Acts “reflect the acts of the one God who sent his Son as Messiah to save this world.”65 Faith in this God who acts in history motivates and undergirds Luke’s writing. Luke’s purpose is not to write an apology for the new Jewish sect, but to give witness to the fact that it is indeed God, working out the salvation event promised in the ancient past as noted above in our look at Genesis, accomplished only through the lives of actual people in present history. When it comes to narrating about the women, Stanford reveals that “most of the women who feature in Luke-Acts do not pursue status, either for themselves or for their families—their importance derives from their pursuit of God’s purposes.”66 The “women described in any detail are usually shown as active in promoting God’s purposes.”67 Although the women, like Mary, seem “autonomous” we discover they actually submit to an authority.68 Keeping this in mind assists in identifying Mary’s rightful head. 

Luke’s first chapter introduces Zacharias, “the simple [country] priest,” Elizabeth his wife, and Mary, bound in contractual marriage to Joseph (1:5-6, 26-7). 69 [Zacharias, whose name means, “God has remembered” is given the opportunity of a lifetime (1:8, 9). He finds himself “linger[ing] near the presence of God” to offer incense in “the Holy of Holies.” 70

Surprising is the fact that Zacharias was so startled when encountering the angel in the very place where an encounter with God could take place– the Holy of Holies. Beale tells us that the “high priest, who could enter only once a year, offered incense which formed a ‘cloud’ so thick that he could not see God’s glorious appearance” so perhaps this obscured Zacharias’s vision, adding to his apprehension. 71 More likely the dearth of prophetic utterances caught Zacharias off guard.

Elizabeth’s ancestry with the “daughters of Aaron” (1:5b) adds distinction to Zacharias’s identity as a priest. 72 I believe two modern translations critically err when translating ek tōn thygaterōn Aarōn with “a descendant of Aaron” (NRSV, NET). By a sweep of the pen they effortlessly strip away Elizabeth’s identity as a “an excellent woman,” reducing her to that of a generic ancestry. 73 Because Luke chooses his words carefully, this distinction is important and spotlights Elizabeth from a long line of women who served alongside their husbands in priestly work. 74

Elizabeth sets the stage for Luke to highlight women throughout the gospel. Elizabeth is not just Zacharias’s wife, but enjoys the distinction herself of being known as the “daughter of Aaron.” In this way Luke brings to mind the invaluable contribution of women throughout Hebrew history leading up to the monumental event of the Messiah’s birth. Luke’s appraisal of both Elizabeth and Zacharias’s faithfulness reveals the value of both the husband and wife’s character even when only the husband filled the priestly temple duties (1:6). Elizabeth’s righteousness does not come from her husband and she is distinguished on behalf of her own blameless life (1:6). Early in the Gospel Luke presents women accountable for their own actions.

Zacharias and Elizabeth parallel Mary and Joseph, yet we note significant differences here as well. Chosen by lot, Zacharias fulfills his obligation to serve as priest without much thought, but he is troubled when Gabriel appears (1:9;12, 19). Mary on the other hand, is not so much troubled by Gabriel’s appearance, as if an encounter with the Lord or an angel of the Lord, was a common occurrence for her. Instead, Luke pictures her troubled with the greeting, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” (1:28-30). “Like Noah, Abraham, and Moses, Mary has “found favor with God,” but unlike her forebears, she has yet to demonstrate the obedient faith that earned them such attribution (Gen 6.8; 18.3; Exodus 33.12-17). 75

If privy to Zacharias’s encounter in the temple, I suspect a heightened anticipation on Mary’s part, and for all who diligently prayed for the long-awaited Messiah. There appears to be no deliberation on Mary’s part to accept the opportunity of a lifetime: to fulfill the role of mother to the long awaited Messiah.

Luke sets Mary apart from Elizabeth by “giving her the power … to name this remarkable child, clearly singling her out in a most unusual way” (1:31). 76 Although Elizabeth indeed informed their guests that her son’s name must be John, the actual naming of John needed to be confirmed by Zacharias (1:60-63). It is significant that Mary, not Joseph, the names her son Jesus. Here Luke presents Mary heeding the commands of Jesus’s father thereby giving a hint that it is God, Jesus’s father, who is Mary’s authoritative head, and not her husband Joseph.

We note another substantial difference. Unlike Zacharias’s one-time offering of the inanimate, although sacred, object of incense, Mary offers exceedingly more. Her offering involves her whole self—that of giving her animated, living body over to a task that consumes her life and alters her own course in history, bringing to mind Abraham’s call to sacrifice his own son. Undoubtedly she realizes this request places her own future with Joseph, her husband, in jeopardy, as well as putting her own physical body at risk. Mary, like Abraham, exhibits a robust faith by willingly placing her marriage and future in the hands of a faithful Father. The text does not reveal if Mary stood with the audience anticipating a word from the priest, or if she knew of Zacharias’s experience at the temple, but the likelihood cannot be ruled out. Was she expecting something as unexpected as filling the role of mother to Christ (1:21)?

Looking at Joseph, we note his situation as similar to Zacharias. Joseph finds himself thrust into a life-altering event not of his own making, yet Luke shares nothing of his predicament. Only through Matthew do we learn a bit more of Joseph’s story. In Matthew we discover how dreams inspired Joseph not to divorce Mary and convinced him to keep her as his wife (Matt 1:20-1). What Luke shares about Joseph is sparse indeed: He is the husband whose wife is pregnant with someone else’s baby (1:27). They may be able to conceal the identity of the child in her womb from the community, but Luke wants his readers to realize the significant part Joseph plays in the birth of the Messiah.

On account of Joseph’s ancestry, pregnant Mary arrives in time to give birth in Bethlehem, thereby fulfilling Micah’s prophecy of a ruler for Israel, the Messiah promised from ancient days (Mic 5:2-4; Is 9:6-7; Mt 2:6; Lk 1:32-25; 2:4).

Here too, we note how Joseph alters his own life trajectory to serve his wife, Mary who is called into ministry.  But Dunn notes that Luke, unlike Matthew, is unconcerned about Jesus’s Davidic ancestry because he realizes “Jesus is ‘the Son of the Most High,’ ‘the Son of God’… because the Holy Spirit ‘came upon’ Mary and the power of the Most High ‘overshadowed’ her.”77 This explains his lack of attention to Joseph (Lk 1:32-25).

The baby is presented at the temple, where Simeon, under Holy Spirit inspiration, follows words of blessing to both parents with words directed towards Mary. Simeon warns of impending heartbreak, “a sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). Following in Abraham’s footsteps, Mary too lays down her son, exhibiting a faithfulness to place her marriage, her future, and the future of her son into the hands of a faithful Father. Here Luke highlights the intimate relationship that occurs between a mother and her child. In this case obviously, is that of mother Mary and her son, Jesus. Whether Luke intends to bring to the foreground images of mothers and their sons throughout Hebrew history is unknown.

Luke lists no mothers within Jesus’s genealogy, not even Mary. Matthew, on the other hand includes Mary and four other women. How similar is Luke’s Mary to the women listed in Matthew’s genealogy? Clements claims the four women—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba—alongside Mary, are mothers who “demonstrate righteousness, faith, and loving loyalty in the face of rejection, condemnation, and hardship” and are included in Matthew’s genealogy due to their “becoming key players in her [Israel’s] salvation history as mother to sons in the Messianic line.78

Schaberg, failing to accept God’s ongoing intervention in the world mentioned earlier, paints a bleaker picture. She believes the particular women listed in Matthew’s narrative prepare his audience to anticipate Mary’s predicament as “a social misfit,” as a woman “thwarted” by men and one who is “party to a sexual act that places her in great danger.” 79 Each woman listed in the genealogy faces jeopardy outside the patriarchal structure, and she risks condemnation due to illicit sexual activity that disrupts the social orders. 80

There is no doubt that illicit activity in the ancient past placed a woman at grave danger, with its accompanying shame, just as woman living under fundamental extremism today experience. 81 Yet, Luke gives no hint of a stain on Mary’s character.

Schaberg goes even further, because no “miraculous, direct intervention on the part of God” to “remove the shame,” and to restore their reputations, she believes the Matthean women found redemption only when the guilty parties either married or took responsibility for them. 82 For Schaberg, their ““salvation” like that of all female biblical characters, is their eventual integration into the patriarchal social structure, outside of which there was believed to be no salvation.” 83

Only then could the shameful woman secure a future of legitimacy for her illegitimate child. This is difficult to refute, yet I doubt this was Matthew’s intention. This feminist reading, with its focus upon male domination fails to appreciate or even uncover the clever, raw courage of women who boldly advocated on their own behalf, all the while living in a culture at times detrimental to them.

I propose a better way of assessing the characters of these women, and thus a clearer picture of Luke’s Mary that allows Mary to turn to her rightful head, rather than turning to patriarchal headship to cover her shame.

Each mother listed in Matthew’s genealogy reveal one of two things: their awareness of the societal laws and/or a turning away from pagan practices to the Hebrew God. Each woman demonstrated independence by initiating on behalf of others and for themselves. Tamar, aware of the law, tangled with Judah, to gain her rightful son/s (Gen 38:12-26). Rahab, hearing rumors of the Hebrew God turned to worship God and advocated for the salvation of her entire household (Josh 6:22-23). Ruth, the foreigner, leaving her pagan religion behind in acceptance of the Hebrew faith of her mother-in-law advocated on behalf of Naomi and herself, when she uncovered Boaz’s feet at the threshing floor (Ruth 3: 6-8). Bathsheba appealed to the King of Israel advocating on behalf of her son Solomon’s right to the throne (1 Kg 1:15-21). When she came before King Solomon on behalf of another’s request, it is Solomon, the king, who knelt before her, as son to mother, before seating himself on his throne (1 Kg 2:19). The four Matthean women are honored for demonstrating ingenuity and initiative while living in a patriarchal age.

In both genealogies then, we take note of women taking matters into their own hands, thereby revealing the unique independent agency for women at risk within a male-dominated society. Both Matthew and Luke, and the OT male authors who recorded their stories, show each woman as being rewarded and highly regarded rather than ridiculed for their actions. Such is the case for Mary.

Mary decides to accept Gabriel’s proposal without consulting Joseph, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (1:38, NRSV). Luke portrays Mary, living in the age of Herod, courageously seeking to obey God in order to bring about a right kingdom. Following in her ancient sisters’ footsteps, Mary counts the cost and takes upon herself a responsibility that brings redemption and reconciliation to herself, to others and to all nations.

Although Joseph, Mary’s better half, takes center stage in Matthew, he is distinguished by Luke simply as “the supposed” father of Jesus in the opening of the genealogy that traces back to Adam, showing Jesus is the final Adam (3:23). 84 Here the word nomizō, meaning to think, believe or to assume, is used. It occurs twice in Luke’s gospel (2:44; 3:23) and seven times in Acts, (7:25; 8:20; 14:19; 16:13, 27; 17:29; 21:29) with all references, except that of Acts 16:13, conveying a “false assumption.” In the case of Luke’s genealogy, the word reveals “an erroneous assumption” on the part of those who thought Joseph to be Jesus’s biological father. 85[83]

Later, after Jesus’s announces in the synagogue in Nazareth that he is the anointed one to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, Luke attributes the congregation’s incredulity to the fact that they mistakenly assumed Jesus was Joseph’s son (4:22). After situating Joseph as Jesus’s assumed father and presenting Joseph in his supporting role as Mary’s helper—a strange phenomenon in light of the fact that a husband and male is the center of humanity— Luke basically writes Joseph out of the story.

In The Real Mary, author McKnight imagines that in “the absence of a midwife, Joseph would have performed the duties of a midwife … tak[ing] care of the baby and Mary as well as the blood and afterbirth.” 86 Beulah Wood notes how “Joseph is forever after known not by his ancestral line or by his father’s name … [but by] “Joseph, husband of Mary.”87

When Gabriel approaches Mary with a proposition, modern readers believe she faces a dilemma. Should she follow the prescribed religious and cultural norms, of fitting her life into that of her husband’s, or should she disregard these norms in order to serve God (1:26-31)?

As Luke continues to lay out the story we discover that immediately following the angel’s proposal that Mary – who accepts the proposal without speaking first with Joseph – hastens on to visit Elizabeth (1:39), thus giving no opportunity to share the news with her betrothed before her journey. We discover that Luke gives no indication of Mary facing the dilemma described above. Apparently Mary did not sense a need to assess her options—whether to consult her husband as her rightful head, or to choose obedience to God as her rightful head.

This raises the question for modern day readers: If a husband’s rule over his wife is established in the creation narrative in Genesis, what might Luke be accomplishing by reporting that God sent Gabriel to Mary, and that Mary consented without gaining her husband Joseph’s consent?

Is Mary guilty of unholy tampering by disregarding Joseph, her rightful head? Luke apparently thinks not. In order to gain insight into what Luke might be doing, I propose we look now at an alternative interpretation of Genesis.

Is Luke Portraying a “Priesthood of All Believers”?

Luke traces Jesus’s genealogy back to Adam, son of God (3:23-37). It is important to look at the Genesis narrative in order to assess whether Luke is portraying Mary as the first in a line of many priests to come. The discussion of Genesis presented earlier in this paper concerned how one establishes the roles of husband and wife in marriage—patriarchalism, equalitarianism, or complementarianism—and how each interpretation defines one’s rightful leader or submissive followers in society, home, and local church.

The traditional way we imagine Eden is a physical garden, a place of paradise at the beginning of historical time. Walton, in The Lost World of Adam and Eve, asks that we consider “the Garden of Eden in its ancient context …more [as a] sacred space than green space” intending that “the cosmos …being designated as sacred space,” as the place where God is able to dwell. 88

Walton wants readers to reconsider envisioning Adam and Eve, not as “the first humans,” but rather as the “first significant humans” chosen for their “priestly role, [as] the first to be placed in sacred space.”89

With Luke tracing Jesus’s genealogy clear back to Adam, it seems quite likely that Luke intends his audience to grasp the theology present in Genesis.90 Walton offers several insights into the role of man and woman from the second chapter of Genesis, quite in contrast to some presented above.

The woman was “not just another creature but was like the man… suitable as his ally … as guardian and mediator with the task of preserving, protecting, and expanding sacred space. … It may seem odd, … that Genesis 2 presents a woman as a colaborer within sacred space along with the man—especially if the narrative scenario is an Israelite authority figure (such as Moses) talking to an Israelite audience … [but] whatever explanations might be found, … the woman is seen as the ally to man in service in sacred space. As an ally, she would not have to have the same roles as man … The text delineat[es] her role in sacred space (italics mine).”

Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, 111-12.

This presents a thought-provoking alternative to the traditional understanding of human origins and lends support to my argument of shared male and female ministry. 91 The idea of serving as co-priests in the sacred space of Eden is further explained. “The role of Adam and Eve in the garden, …has less to do with how the priest operated within Israel and more to do with Israel’s role (and later, that of believers, 1 Pet 2:9) as priests to the world. 92 This also requires a revolutionary rethinking of Genesis and a reevaluation of how the church determines male and female roles.

Following Walton’s line of reasoning, we would envision Adam and Eve as the first significant couple to serve in a priestly capacity long before the “formal creation of the Israelite priesthood (Ex 28— 29), which occurs after the exodus and the giving of the Decalogue at Mount Sinai.” 93

Although Genesis records no priestly acts on the part of Adam and Eve, Walton proposes they filled that role within the sacred space of Eden, a place within the cosmos where God dwelt with humanity. The Genesis author records additional priestly work of Abel (4:4), Noah (8:20-21), Abraham (22:13), and Jacob (31:54, 46:1).

Did the Genesis writer include Cain and Abel as a significant representative like that of Noah, Abraham and Jacob in order to show how Abel’s unfortunate death by Cain curtailed the priestly work and resulted in another curse and chaos before the flood? It seems, if we continue to take Walton’s point of view, that these priestly sacrifices, offered in an age long before the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood of the tabernacle and later temple, served God who dwelt in the sacred space of the cosmos.

After the fall and Abel’s death, the idea of a representative priestly couple resumes with Noah and his wife (Gen. 7:13), through the call of Abraham and Sarah (Gen 12:1-3) and later patriarchal couples. The patriarchs filled the role of representative priests prior to the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood when God called Israel to be “a priestly kingdom and a holy nation (Ex 19:6, 28:1–29, 46; Lev 8:1–9:24). God planned for Israel to be His people, “a priestly and holy community in the midst of the nations,” to fill the role of mediator between God and the world. 94

Each individual within the representative couple, the husband and the wife, “serv[ed] as individuals on behalf of a group” and as such, filled a mediating capacity typical of the “priestly role.” 95

Reading the ancient stories in Genesis in light of this background enables us to appreciate how both parents filled a priestly role of sorts. The fifth commandment explicitly commands both mother and father with the responsibility to teach their children that salvation comes from God who dwells in their midst (Ex 20:12, RSV, Deut 6:4-10). The priest engaged in teaching, offered sacrifices, prayed and mediated on behalf of the people. Did Luke envision Mary filling these priestly responsibilities in raising Jesus?

Voss explains that it is in 1 Peter and the rest of the NT that “believers’ [insert Mary’s] offerings of spiritual sacrifices through Christ testify to their sharing in his royal priesthood,” and it in these acts that he “presupposes a priestly identity for the person making the offering.” 96 Granted, it is not until Acts that we discover Mary following her son as the Christ, but Luke already knows she is a true disciple proven by her presence with the apostles in the upper room when he writes his gospel (Acts 1:14). In order to understand the “uniqueness of Christian priesthood,” we note that the new “priesthood is radically eschatological.” 97

[T[he eschaton had already dawned. It is a new age in which the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all men and women. All have access to Yahweh’s Holy Place, called as temple servants. The Holy Spirit has gifted each of the Father’s children; all are oblates. The roots of this understanding of a democratization of priesthood can be found in both OT protology and eschatology: the one drawing from the priesthood of primogeniture (Adam), and the other from the royal priesthood of eschatological promise.

The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei, Kindle location 1469-74.

Mary, in light of this democratized view of priesthood, surely represents the beginning of the new priesthood of believers, where all, regardless of race, gender, social standing and physical disability access God through Jesus the High Priest (Heb 4:14-16).

So, did Mary defy her rightful head? Did she tamper with divine authority?

A look at Acts also helps here. Luke uses the word, homothymadon ten times in Acts (1:14, 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 7:57; 8:6; 12:20; 15:25, 18:12; 19:29), a word used once by Paul (Roman 15:6). It is translated in English as “together”, “in one accord”, “with one accord”, or “with one mind”, and “pertains to mutual consent or agreement.” 98

The word describes the unity present in the early church, by recounting cooperation and working together in agreement for the common good (1:14, 2:46; 4:24; 5:12; 8:6; 15:25). It pictures “inner unity of a group of people” and by this Luke communicates the “unanimity of the community” in the early church. 99

But, Luke’s meaning is deeper than simple togetherness. The word speaks to God’s purpose: reconciliation for all nations and to Mary and the psalmist’s hope that “all nations ultimately come to bow and give glory to God (Ps 86:9). Here we see du Plessis’s analysis at work. Luke can only theologically interpret the “historical facts” after the events took place, and then gives them “meaning … within the framework of this central truth. 100

Although the word homothymadon is not found in the Gospel of Luke, it possibly explains Mary’s supposed ‘failure’ in the narrative to seek Joseph’s permission before agreeing to accept God’s proposal through Gabriel. The two, Joseph and Mary, as husband and wife, were of one mind living in accord in matters of the heart and faith. In accepting the role of mother to God’s son, Mary was not in defiance of her husband, but revealed that both she and Joseph, a righteous man, longed for the restoration of Israel, and that he would support her (Matt 1:18-21).

Earlier prophets declared, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth,” (Is 49:6b, RSV). When Luke records these very words given by the Holy Spirit to Simeon, Luke, as well as Mary, recognizes the new age dawned (Lk 2:22-32). Writing years after Christ’s first coming, Luke recognizes that the first-century Christ-followers are called to serve in a new priestly capacity in the world.

It is Mary’s own offering of her body as a living sacrifice that sets her apart from Zacharias, a priest under the old age. We see some of the co-laboring of men and women from Paul, whose closing remarks in Romans 16 lists numerous men and women working side by side in ministry in the sacred spaces where God dwells.

Hope for Unity in Restoration Churches

Mary’s first-century situation is unlike those facing today’s women in Restoration churches, homes and academic settings. Mary appears to be valued and appreciated for her sexuality as she gave birth to God’s Son.

As Kenneth Bailey makes clear Mary is also valued for her deep theological acumen and insights presented in “the Magificat …[which] presents her as a teacher of theology, ethics, and social justice for all of [Luke’s] readers.” 101. Mary is not silenced! Her voice rings out loud and clear, teaching all readers of Luke’s gospel throughout church history.

But, unlike Mary, today’s Christian woman – in the pews of Restoration churches – senses a deep marginalization and rejection of her spiritual giftedness simply on the basis of her biological function as a woman.

For some women it seems easier to acquiesce than jockey for a place in a male-dominated sphere. Such was the case for David Balch’s mother, who although she was a “brilliant women,” Balch reports she “never said a word in church her whole ninety years.”102[101] After years of research on the topic, Balch “determined … that Churches of Christ had misconstrued the Bible’s teaching.”103[102]

Luke’s work clearly presents the new age. In this new age, men and women ministered side by side, fulfilling the mission of God. In the gospel, Luke hints at the expansion of the ministry of reconciliation that is further developed in Acts. Luke reveals the horizontal expression of reconciliation expanded when Mary and other women joined the apostles to pray together in one accord, thus ending the male-dominated priesthood (Acts 1:14).

With the “abolition of a special priestly caste and its replacement by the priesthood of the one new and eternal high priest … [the] logical consequence [is] the fact that all believers share in a universal priesthood.”104[103] Women as well as men constitute the new priesthood in the church.

The ministry of reconciliation coined earlier in a letter by Paul (1 Cor 5:18) united men and women together when at Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell upon men and women alike, just as Joel had prophesied (Acts 2).

Luke welcomes women, understood to be formerly left to the periphery, to enter into the new priesthood. It appears that Luke follows Paul’s conception of reconciliation – in that true reconciliation begins first with Christ, then radically transforms every part of the cosmos and human relationships. The time has come for Restoration churches to not only embrace this full expression of the first century church, but to reconsider ways women may minister and lead alongside men in the sacred space we call the church.

  1. Scot McKnight, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, (Brewster: MA: Paraclete Press, 2007); McKnight does not address the significance of the angelic announcement to Mary, a woman under a husband’s authority.
  2. Brian Mavis, “Women Preaching,” Christian Standard, April 21, 2013, http://christianstandard.com/2013/04/women-preaching/.
  3. Matt Proctor, “Should Women Preach? (The Story of One Bible College Faculty’s Quest for an Answer), Christian Standard, March 6, 2014, http://christianstandard.com/2014/03/should-women-preach-the-story-of-one-bible-college-facultys-quest-for-an-answer/.
  4. Peter Jay Razor II, and Jack Cottrell, “The Case for “Occasional” Women Preachers: A Response to Ozark Christian College,” The Blade Blog, April 3, 2014, http://thebladeonline.org/wordpress/2014/04/the-case-for-%E2%80%9Coccasional%E2%80%9D-women-preachers-a-response-to-ozark-christian-college/.
  5. Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: Timothy and Titus, (Moberly, MO: Scripture Exposition Books, 2007 (corrected ed), 105.
  6. https://theicom.org/about-us/
  7. Mandy Smith, “Bossy Women and the Bride of Christ: Reclaiming Leadership for the Church,” Workshop at International Conference on Missions, Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 13-16, 2014. http://www.universitychristianchurch.net/about/
  8. Personal notes.
  9. John Caldwell, http://www.kingswaychurch.org/about-kingsway/history; Jair Castillo, https://vnmi.org, 2013 ICOM president; Jordan Congdon, https://amor.org; Sherman Pemberton, http://www.mylhcc.com/; “Are We Preaching a Different Bible?” Panel Discussion at International Conference on Missions, Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 13-16, 2014.
  10. Personal notes
  11. Valentine, “Holman,” StonedCampbell Blog.
  12. Kathy Pulley, “Women in Ministry,” The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 779.
  13. Emmanuel Enid, “The Battle for the Eternal Subordination of Women Disguised as a Disagreement on the Functional Roles of the Trinity,” The Wartburg Watch 2017 Blog, 10 June 2016, http://thewartburgwatch.com; and Wyatt Graham, “The Complementarian Trinity Debate: A Summary of Its Beginning,” The Cripplegate Blog June 22, 2016, http://thecripplegate.com.
  14. Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible, 1st Ed., (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Gen 3:16.
  15. Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 1003.
  16. Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?,” WTJ 37: (1975): 376-383.
  17. Susan T. Foh, Women & the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1979), 78, 130, 159, 177.
  18. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?,” 383.
  19. Phyllis Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation,” JAAR XLI (1973): 30-48.
  20. Walter Kaiser, “Correcting Caricatures: The Biblical Teaching on Women,” Priscilla Papers, 31 (2017): 9-14.
  21. https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/60/60-2/JETS_60-2-227-245_Condren.pdf
  22. Janson C. Condren, “Toward a Purge of the Battle of the Sexes and ‘Return’ for the Original Meaning of Genesis 3:16 B,” JETS 60/2 (2017) 227-45.
  23. Kenneth Bailey, The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, 2nd ed.,(Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2005), 29.
  24. https://netbible.org/bible/Genesis+3
  25. Phyllis A. Bird, “Male and Female He Created Them”: Gen 1:27b in the Context of the Priestly Account of Creation,” HTR 74 (1981), 129-159.
  26. Bird, “Male and Female he Created Them,”
  27. Beulah Wood, “Living a Shared Spirituality: What Jesus’s Parents Can Teach Us about Marriage,” Mutuality 24 (2017): 8-10.
  28. http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/09/23/martin.hairston/index.html.
  29. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957) 109.
  30. Thom Schultz, “The Rise of the Dones,” November 12, 2014, http://holysoup.com/2014/11/12/the-rise-of-the-dones/.
  31. Robert M. Randolph, “Why Women Should Be Preaching in the Churches of Christ,” Leaven 11 (2003): 1-6.
  32. Randolph, “Why Women Should Be Preaching in the Churches of Christ,” 3.
  33. Jack Cottrell, Headship, Submission, and the Bible: Gender Roles in the Home, (Joplin: College Press, 2008), 21.
  34. Cottrell, Headship, Submission, and the Bible, 21.
  35. Jack Cottrell, Gender Roles & the Bible: Creation, the Fall, & Redemption, 80-1.
  36. John D. Garr, Coequal and Counterbalanced: God’s Blueprint for Women and Men (Atlanta: Golden Key Press, 2012), Kindle Edition, locations 1038-1042.
  37. Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 99.
  38. John Goldingay, “Israel’s Gospel,” vol. 1 of Old Testament Theology, (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003), 106.
  39. Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women, Abridged version, (Kindle Edition: privately printed since 1923), Kindle Locations 280-82.
  40. Two authors who posit male leadership: Susan T. Foh, p. 1, in Women & the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism, (Phillipsburg: NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1979), argues women are “ontologically equal” with men, but “economic[ally] and function[ally] subordinat[ed];” Jack Cottrell, Gender Roles & The Bible: Creation, the Fall, & Redemption, (Joplin: College Press, 1994) agrees with Foh, writing on p. 77 that he sees in Gen 1 an “ontological equality … [that] does not rule out relationships of subordination.” And p. 81, Gen 2 places the man as “occupy[ing] center stage … with the woman … a supporting role,” with ch. 2 addressing man and his “existence, nature, and needs.”
  41. Sister Prudence Allen, R.S.M., The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 750 B.C.-A.D. 1250. 1st Edition, (Canada:Eden Press, 1985), 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 117.
  42. Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1985, 1989, 2006), 30; sees a man’s right to rule the woman “conspicuously absent in Gen 1 and 2.”
  43. See page xx in Allen’s preface to her second edition. Here she explains why the use of the word “sex” instead of “gender” because the “distinction between sex and gender did not function in the early centuries. Not until the 80s, “especially through the influence of postmodernism” do we see a “gradual separation of sex from gender … [leading] to a claim by many theorists that sex is an imaginary construct and gender ought to be denaturalized and contain no references to male or female identity.” I agree with her statement that “[t]he bifurcation of the two terms “sex”/“gender” … creates a fissure in the core of the human being.”
  44. Sister Prudence Allen, The Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 750 B.C.-A.D. 1250, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 57-74.
  45. Allen, The Concept of Woman, 63.
  46. Chaim I. Waxman, “The Jewish Father: Past and Present” American Jewish Committee, Institute of Human Relations (1984): 59-73. (out of print, available at research.policyarchive.org/10197.pdf).
  47. Goldingay, Israel’s Gospel, 142.
  48. John Walton, The Lost Word of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015.
  49. Bailey, The Cross & the Prodigal, 27.
  50. Shaye J. D. Cohen, 3rd ed., From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, (Louisville: Westminster Press, 2014), 4.
  51. David C. Harlow, “Jewish Context of the NT” Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, 373-80.
  52. Silvia Rozenberg and David Mevorah, Ed., Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey, (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 2013, 3rd ed.), 30-1.
  53. Bailey explains the head of the family/clan bore economic responsibility for the entire household and in times of estrangement between father and son, a brother, or relative became a mediator, p. 44-6; See “The Bible as the Story of Redemption” by Sandra L. Richter in The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament, (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008). Richter convincingly shows the positive intent of a patriarchal society in which every person in society ideally had a place of security in the family, with the “patriarch’s responsibility … [as] the safety net of Israel’s society,” 45.
  54. Thomas J. F. Stanford, Luke’s People: Men and Women Who Met Jesus and the Apostles, (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015), 119.
  55. Stanford, Luke’s People, 114-5.
  56. In Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, the concept of priesthood of believers is introduced,112-13.
  57. Phyllis Bird, “Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Ancient Israel,” BR  39 (1994): p 31-45.
  58. Bird, “Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Ancient Israel,” BR  39 (1994): p 31-2
  59. Joseph Vlcek Kozar, “Reading the Opening Chapter of Luke From a Feminist Perspective” in Escaping Eden: New Feminist Perspectives on the Bible, (Washington Square, NY: New York University Press, 1999), 54.
  60. Thomas J. F. Stanford, Luke’s People: The Men and Women Who Met Jesus and the Apostles, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014), 212.
  61. I. I. Du Plessis, “Once More: The Purpose of Luke’s Prologue (Lk I 1-4),” Nov T 16 (1974): 259-271.
  62. Du Plessis, “Once More: The Purpose of Luke’s Prologue (Lk I 1-4),” 271.
  63. Ibid., 271.
  64. Ibid.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Stanford, Luke’s People: The Men and Women Who Met Jesus and the Apostles, (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, Kindle Edition), 190.
  67. Stanford, 188.
  68. Ibid.
  69. Francois Bovon, Helmut Koester, Christine M. Thomas, Luke 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1-9:50, (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2002) 33. See section 4.2.5, pg. 119 in Luke’s People. Sanford describes the situation priests faced under Herod’s reign, with “temple tithes plundered by chief priests.”
  70. Bovon, Koester, Thomas, Luke 1, 34.
  71. G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology 17, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2004), 35.
  72. Alfred Plummer, The Gospel According to Luke, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1896; 1953), 9.
  73. Plummer, The Gospel According to Luke, 9.
  74. See Exodus 28-29 for details of Aaron and his son’s priestly ordination.
  75. Mary F. Foskett, A Virgin Conceived, Mary and Classical Representations of Virginity, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), 118. 
  76. Foskett, A Virgin Conceived, 119.
  77. James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, Vol. 1 of Christianity in the Making, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 343.
  78. E. Anne Clements, Mothers on the Margin?: The Significance of the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy, (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 38.
  79. Jane Schaberg, The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives, (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1987), 33.
  80. Schaberg, The Illegitimacy of Jesus, 31-36.
  81. Thistlethwaite writes, “The wounded, bleeding, maimed, and destroyed bodies of women are nonnegotiable; they are what they are. They are not “the body” in general but individual women’s bodies that are violated and wounded and sometimes destroyed. These are bodies that can carry the scars and memory of painful mistreatment as long as they exist. These are bodies that have been forced to endure painful injury … “Against Our Will,” in Women’s Bodies as Battlefield: Christian Theology and the Global War on Women, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 3.
  82. Schaberg, 42.
  83. Ibid., 37.
  84. G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004), 172.
  85. W. Schenk, νομίζω, nomizō, EDNT, 2:470.
  86. Scot McKnight, The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2007), 37.
  87. Beulah Wood, “Living a Shared Spirituality: What Jesus’s Parents Can Teach Us About Marriage,” Mutuality (2017): 8-10.
  88. John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015), 116-7.
  89. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, 114-5.
  90. Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 78.
  91. Ibid., 114-15.
  92. Ibid., 112-13.
  93. R. K. Duke, “Priests, Priesthood.” Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, Mark J. Boda, and J. Gordon McConville, eds. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), Johnson E-library book, 7676.
  94. Hank Voss, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei: A Canonical, Catholic, and Contextual Perspective, Kindle Ed. (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016), Kindle Locations 1218-19.
  95. Walton, 113.
  96. Voss, The Priesthood of All Believers and the Missio Dei, Kindle location 1335-1338.
  97. Voss, Kindle location 1469-1474.
  98. Johanes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, “ὁμοθυμαδόν,” Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 367-68.
  99. H. W. Heidland, “ὁμοθυμαδόν,” TDNT V:185-6.
  100. Du Plessis, 271.
  101. Kenneth Bailey, “Women in the New Testament: A Middle Eastern Cultural View” Theology Matters 6 (2000) 1-6.
  102. D’esta Love, Finding Their Voices: Sermons by Women in the Churches of Christ, (Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press, 2015), 20.
  103. Love, Finding Their Voices, 20.
  104. Voss, Kindle location 1280-1283.

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