Tag Archives: Philemon

Wright talks about Philemon & Frye talks about Jesus and Women

Go here for a remarkable sermon by N.T. Wright on Paul’s letter to Philemon (there is both an audio and a video option–it’s just over 14 minutes long).  I just read Philemon a couple of times last week (it’s very short).  Afterwards I thought, “OK, Paul is embracing this former slave as a brother, but I’m not sure what else this letter is about.”  Wright does a nice job elucidating.  (It’s also an example in the value of being familiar with the historical context of a passage.)

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John Frye, in his post “Jesus and Expectations: Part 7- Women“:

Whatever the debate is today, it is undeniable that Jesus had very liberal views and relationships with women in his 1st century Jewish culture. Whatever his culture’s boundary markers were, he broke them. I will present three episodes of Jesus’ relationship to women. (Link)

The three episodes are Jesus speaking “publicly and theologically” to the Samaritan woman at the well (in John chapter 4); the prostitute who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume (in Luke chapter 7); and Mary anointing Jesus with myrrh (inMark chapter 14).  John ends the post with this:

Jesus’ relationship to women did not follow the cultural scripts. Neither does the Gospel follow cultural scripts. The Gospel liberates women to their rightful place with their brothers in the work of the kingdom of God. Phoebe was a leader, a deacon. Junia was an outstanding apostle. Priscilla was an effective discipler of Apollos. Many other women were co-workers, not sub-workers, with Paul in the ministry of the Gospel. It all got started with Jesus. (Link)

What has been interesting the learn in the last couple of years is that it’s not only Jesus’ words that are his teaching, but also his actions.  Both his teaching and living are theological.  (And, once again, a fine example of the necessity of being familiar with context.)

Like John does in the post, I highly recommend Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.  I grew up in what was officiallycomplementarian home (I’ll let Wikipedia explain the term), though it wasn’t something I saw in practice very often.  Over the years I’ve slowly moved away from that view, and McKnight’s book was the proverbial nail in the coffin for any remaining complementarianism (I think).

(McKnight’s book is not, incidentally, about gender roles and the church or, for that matter, about the symbolism of Jesus’ actions.  The book is about how we read the Bible; women in church ministry is his chosen case study for that reading.)