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Gender Roles and the People of God


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Table of Contents

1. Avoiding a Misreading of the Bible PART ONE: Outstanding Women in the Bible 2. Eve 3. Leading from the Middle 4. Priests and Prophets 5. Palestinian Patriarchy Meets Jesus 6. Women in the New Testament PART TWO: Five Biblical Questions to Resolve 7. Were Women's Roles Restricted in New Testament Churches? 8. What Is "Ministry"? 9. What Does the Word "Head" Mean? 10. Is Jesus Subordinate to the Father? Does It Matter? 11. How Diverse Were New Testament Churches? PART THREE: Outstanding Women in Church History 12. "Fathers" of the Church 13. Priests, Monks, and Nuns 14. Two Reformations with Good and Bad News for Women 15. Separate Spheres in the 19th Century 16. Where Are We Today?

About the Author

Alice Mathews (PhD, Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver) is the Lois W. Bennett Distinguished Professor Emerita and former academic dean at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The author of several books, including Preaching that Speaks to Women and Marriage Made in Eden, she was co-host for many years of the national radio program Discover the Word and also served until recently as academic dean of Christian University GlobalNet.


While many books have simply focused on key biblical texts, Gender Roles and the People of God also explores other issues that add to the complexity of the subject, including modern cultural and theological developments that shape the way people read ancient texts and think about God and gender. This book is certain to help many Christians wrestling with gender issues. * Roy E. Ciampa, manager for biblical scholarship and integrated training, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship *
It is a pleasure to endorse Dr. Alice Mathews's book. It is a tender, compassionate explanation of the teaching of Scripture on this delicate subject. Her desire is to be fair to what our Lord has taught in his Word, not to win an argument. I urge Christ's church to center its thinking on this topic with Alice's firm base on Scripture rather than numerous alternative routes that are often used to discuss this topic. * Walter C. Kaiser Jr., president emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
In this book, Dr. Alice Mathews harvests a lifetime of serious scholarship and practical ministry experience in the church and academy to make a cogent case---biblical, historical, theological, and practical---for the liberation and employment of the spiritual gifts of all God's gifted and called people, both women and men. I recommend her work with enthusiasm and confidence and would like to see it in the hands of every seminary student in the country. * Dr. John Jefferson Davis, professor of systematic theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
A concise, cogent, and convincing treatment of gender roles for God's people. Alice Mathews has confidently walked onto the historical turf of biblical theology, looked her opposition straight in the eye, and with grace-filled clarity of heart and mind boldly challenged outdated presuppositions, defended a God-honoring position of gender roles, and walked off the playing field victoriously. I delight in this incredible ezer-kenegdo woman of God. * Stephen A. Macchia, founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and author of Broken and Whole *
Regardless of your position on the gender roles issue, this book will challenge your thinking and provide fresh perspectives on this important issue in the church. Dr. Mathews has inspired countless women to live out their spiritual gifts over the years. For the kingdom's sake, we should read and examine what she so carefully offers in this important book. * Evan Morgan, senior vice president of global ministry efforts, Our Daily Bread Ministries *
Alice Mathews helps the entire church rethink the concept of gender and gender roles with fresh biblical, historical, theological, and cultural insights. She releases us from our natural binary impulses to reconsider our God-given human responsibilities as people loved and created by God. This is a timely book for those battling in traditional gender wars. * Matthew D. Kim, assistant professor of preaching and ministry, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and author of Preaching with Cultural Intelligence *
Readers of this important book by Dr. Mathews will find it helpful and hopeful. Helpful because in this one volume we have a clear interaction with and integration of the hermeneutical, theological, historical, and sociological issues that have impacted the current debates in some of our Christian communities. Hopeful because we see afresh God's creation of and call to women and men together to be full participants in the life and mission of God for the sake of the world. * Wyndy Corbin Reuschling, professor of ethics and theology, Ashland Theological Seminary *
Alice Mathews provides readers with a thorough rethink about gender roles. Her compelling claims help to enhance and enrich the discussion about the practice of men and women in the home and in the ministries of the church. * Scott M. Gibson, DPhil, Haddon W. Robinson professor of preaching and ministry, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
Dr. Mathews's book is an eye-opening journey from creation, through biblical narratives and debated texts, on to a revealing discussion of church history right up to the present. Gender issues raised in this book (much of them alarming) impact every man and woman in the church and threaten future generations of believers. They tarnish our witness, weaken our relationships, and hinder our mission in the world. This is a vitally important read! * Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church and Malestrom, and Frank A. James III, DPhil, PhD, president, Biblical Theological Seminary, and professor of historical theology *
Overcoming the sin of sexism---what we call in my culture "machismo"---is an ongoing struggle in our churches, homes, and communities. Alice Mathews has gifted the church with a biblically sound, theologically sophisticated, historically relevant, and pastorally sensitive book. This is required reading for all who would advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and his reign. * Rev. Eldin Villafane, PhD, distinguished professor of Christian social ethics, emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
Clear and fair, this is a helpful hard-hitting introduction to questions about gender roles. Alice Mathews draws on her familiarity with the breadth and depth of biblical, theological, and historical scholarship related to these controversial issues to provide an instructive summary, regardless of whether your position is still in process or seemingly settled. * David A. Currie, associate professor of pastoral theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
Discussions on gender dominate much of our present culture, and not just in the academy or on the extreme fringes of social media. This book refutes simple gender-based hierarchical approaches that have emerged from some parts of the church and provides a richer and more holistic understanding that is faithful to both Scripture and tradition. This model of informed discourse will serve the church for years to come. * Grayson Carter, associate professor of church history, Fuller Theological Seminary *
Alice Mathews's combination of laser-like clarity and loving charity toward the hierarchicalists she disagrees with is enlightening and refreshing. Spanning Scripture, theology, tradition, ecclesiology, and ministry, with a touch of sociology, this is one of the most succinct and yet comprehensive syntheses of the best scholarship you'll find on the subject. It is truly a liberating book. * Gordon Preece, Rev'd Dr, director of the Center for Research in Religion and Social Policy, University of Divinity, Melbourne *
Don't miss this engaging and well-written book. Read it for its timely and important insights. And read it for its exceptional model of how to study and interpret Scripture. This is a valuable resource for the church, and I will be recommending it often. * Meri MacLeod, PhD, theological educator *
Alice Mathews has spent decades assisting Christians to rethink what they have been taught about gender roles. Very few people have thought as long or as carefully about these issues from a biblical perspective. She provides us with a worthwhile and lively summary of a lifetime of experience and teaching from a woman who has walked the talk. * Alistair Mackenzie, teaching fellow, Laidlaw College, Christchurch, New Zealand *
Engaging, respectful, honest, and biblical, Dr. Mathews avoids strident tones and, as a friend, helps us reread familiar passages and rethink old ideas. If you believe that only Scripture should limit a person's ministry, you should read this book. * J. Kent Edwards, professor of preaching and leadership, Talbot School of Theology, and founder, CrossTalk Global *
Alice Mathews has made a major contribution to the ongoing dialogue regarding women in the church. Both the tone and content of this book reflect a teacher's desire to encourage careful thinking rather than to push a particular point of view. She demonstrates a refreshing optimism---believing that rethinking gender roles can lead to renewed effectiveness of men and women working together in building God's kingdom on earth. What a possibility! * M. Gay Hubbard, PhD, counselor, Life Management Services *
Alice Mathews has written a thoughtful, reflective, and carefully crafted work. The examination of both historical and contemporary factors in determining the roles of men and women is informative and convincing. This book is an excellent resource for both educational and personal study. An important read for anyone who has the courage and wisdom to reexamine this often controversial issue. * Raymond F. Pendleton, professor of pastoral care and counseling, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary *
Over my forty-five- plus years as a Christ follower, I have grieved that so many Christians, especially leaders, refuse to do the hard work of sorting out key issues related to gender roles in the church and home. Gender Roles and the People of God should be included on every Christian's must-read list. * Dr. Sue Edwards, associate professor of educational ministries and leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary *
Dr. Mathews has written an urgently needed book on gender roles that is thoroughly biblical, both theologically and culturally sensitive, and pastorally prophetic. Above all, her vision of homes and churches led by a "Blessed Alliance" of men and women under the authority of Jesus is deeply hopeful. * Chris Schutte, pastor, Christ Church Anglican, Phoenix, Arizona *

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