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Posted December 1, 2010

Book: Women in Ministry and the Writings of Paul
Author: Karen M. Elliott, C.PP.S.
Anselm Academic, Winona, Minn. 2010. Pp. 105

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In Women in Ministry and the Writings of Paul, author Karen M. Elliott, inspired particularly by the experience and writings of the Apostle Paul, reflects on historical and contemporary issues of ministry within the Christian community. Paul implored the early Christian communities to reject insularity, to eliminate divisions that impeded their faith, and to focus instead on their oneness in Christ Jesus. Paul wrote: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Writes Elliott, “I invite you, whatever your religious background or belief, to encounter there the witness of women of faith throughout the ages, and to encounter Paul, the passionate disciple of Jesus Christ who urged the early Christian communities to focus on oneness in Christ Jesus rather than on that which separates and divides.”

An Excerpt from the Book:

Women Minister in Paul

The plethora of citations in the undisputed letters of Paul makes it abundantly clear that Paul holds the ministry of women in high esteem. The terms that he uses to describe women’s leadership positions and their ministries in the early Church are the same terms he applies to men and to himself and his ministry. These terms include “apostle,” “deacon,” (not “deaconess”), “co-worker,” “countryman,” “yokemate,” and “hard workers.” Undoubtedly, the presence of Paul’s commendations of women in his writings were as striking in the first century as theyh are in the twenty-first and would have been difficult to dismiss before Church tradition found ways to ignore and sadly even to eradicate them. In truth, the role of women in the Pauline communities was much greater and more nearly equal to that of men than one finds in contemporary Christianity.

. . . Chloe

For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you (1 Cor. 1:11).

Since koinonia is the foundation of Christian life and its only authentic expression, Paul’s primary concern in this passage is lack of unity among the Christians at Corinth. Regrettably, we know little or nothing about Chloe, save that Paul felt that she was well acquainted with the Corinthian situation and that her alarming report of conditions there was thoroughly reliable. Since Paul recognizes those who came to him with her concerns, it is likely that Chloe was a leader in the Christian community in Corinth and probably the head of a church that gathered in her home. Paul responds to the serious concerns that the messengers presented in Chloe’s name, addressing the rivalries that threatened the new community of faith at Corinth.

Table of Contents:

1. The Ministry of Women in the New Testament

Women as ministers in the Gospel

Mary Magdalene: apostle to the apostles

Initial impressions of Paul’s view of women as ministers

2. Paul and his times

The person of Paul

Paul’s cultural context

Religion and philosophy

Legacy and influence

3. Paul’s theology of baptism

Baptism: a beginning

Baptismal formulas

Freedom in Christ

4. Scriptural evidence of Paul’s views on women

Paul’s use of feminine imagery

Equality in marriage

Equality in ministry

Women ministers in Paul

Regarding women’s veils

Women keeping silent in churches

A red herring Concluding reflections

5. Post New Testament to modern times

The first five centuries




The later centuries