Women Are Not Inferior
Man as Male and Female, by Paul K. Jewett (Eerdmans, 1975, 200 pp., $2.95 pb), is reviewed by Cheryl Forbes, editorial associate, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Women are by nature born to obey. Right? So said John Calvin. And for centuries the Church has assumed that the Bible said so as well, from Genesis (woman made from man) through the New Testament (Paul’s admonition that women keep silent in the Church). The reason for this subordination of women traditionally has been, whether we want to admit it or not, the assumption that the female sex is inferior to the male. Jewett, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Seminary, shows where that has been asserted by Christians from Augustine and Aquinas to Luther and Calvin. As Virginia Mollenkott says in the foreword, “he is the first evangelical theologian to face squarely the fact that if woman must of necessity be subordinate, she must of necessity be inferior.” For that admission alone Jewett deserves praise.
He also deserves praise for his thorough, painstaking, scholarly approach to the theological issues. As he says, we cannot solve the “woman question” (a condescending phrase that he merely quotes) by talking of women apart from men. God created male and female in his image, and Jewett’s emphasis on the mutuality of the sexes goes far to provide balance and wholeness on a divisive issue. In emphasizing Genesis 1:27 he combats the view that man alone was made in the image of God and that woman, because she was made from man, must therefore always have a male head.
This emphasis on both male and female as necessary to a unified theology of man may not please those women’s liberationists who prefer—wrongly, I believe—to discuss woman totally apart from man. Jewett’s rejection of the “androgynous idea” will be equally disturbing to them.
At the same time his rejection of the hierarchical view of the male-female relationship, in favor of the concept of partnership, will disturb conservatives who believe that Paul teaches the hierarchical structure. For those who think rejection of hierarchy within the sexes means rejection of all hierarchy Jewett states:
Even to suggest such a conclusion is unthinkable.… In fact, in the concrete structures of life, women ought to be subordinate to men as the occasion demands. By the same token men ought to be subordinate to women as the occasion demands. It is not the subordination of some women to some men, but the subordination of all women to all men, because they are women, that constitutes the indefensible thesis, indeed the unscriptural thesis [pp. 130, 131].
Finally, Jewett deserves praise for the amount of information he packs into 200 pages. He not only gives his own interpretation of the biblical view of women but also provides an ample and accurate summary of various theological options, of the New and Old Testament statements on women, and of the ideas of some of the Church’s greatest theologians. And along with all that he surveys misogyny in Western thought, discusses the ordination of women, and analyzes the idea of the Eternal Feminine. For any concerned person, Man as Male and Female is a must.
The New Testament, An Introduction: Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History, by Norman Perrin (Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1974, 385 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by David E. Aune, associate professor of religion, St. Xavier College, Chicago, Illinois.
During the past two or three years, more than half a dozen introductions to the New Testament have been marketed by some of America’s largest publishers of college texts. Perrin’s book, in preparation for several years, constitutes Harcourt’s bid for a piece of the action at secular colleges, and it is markedly different from its competitors.
First of all, the book is not really an introduction in the sense that it introduces the beginning student to the general results of the critical study of the New Testament. Several sections of the book, particularly that devoted to the Gospel of Mark, introduce the reader to the rather distinctive critical views of the author, who teaches at the University of Chicago Divinity School. In other sections the reader is introduced to the views of radical criticism emanating directly or indirectly from Rudolf Bultmann and his circle. Frequently hypotheses of varying degrees of probability are leveled in their presentation to the extent that they appear (erroneously) to be the communis opinio of contemporary New Testament scholarship.
Second, the book is perhaps more uneven in quality than any other introductory text with which I am acquainted. One is reminded of Longfellow’s line describing a certain little girl: “When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.” Perrin is very, very good in his treatments of the Synoptic Gospels, the Fourth Gospel, and Acts. The weakest section of the book is that devoted to Paul, with the General Epistles running a close second. Here Perrin not infrequently makes unguarded or erroneous statements, such as, “His [Paul’s] letters show that he had a formal Greek education, for he writes Greek well and displays a knowledge of Greek rhetorical devices.” If Paul learned Greek formally anywhere, it was certainly within a Jewish context, and his rhetoric is manifestly not that of a Hellenistic school education (the diatribe style, so characteristic of Paul, was beneath the dignity of Hellenistic men of letters).
The text has two commendable formal features that can be extremely helpful to beginning students of the New Testament: (1) individual documents are set into the framework of a theological history of early Christianity (summarized in Chapter 3: “A Theological History of New Testament Christianity”), and (2) exegetical surveys are provided for individual writings. Most introductions fail to set the New Testament into some conceptual framework of early Christian thought and development; it is to Perrin’s credit that he has provided the student with such a structure. The framework he selected originated with Heitmüller and has been adopted and elaborated by such scholars as Rudolf Bultmann and Ferdinand Hahn.
The chief weakness of Perrin’s version is that it depends on two events or tendencies, the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the problem of the delay of the Parousia of Jesus. These two negative causes of early Christian theological development will hardly bear the weight assigned them by Perrin. As for the exegetical surveys, some are extremely helpful and informative; others hardly rise above the Sunday-school level. Perrin’s refreshing concern with literary structure is another strength of the volume, although apart from the Gospels and Acts what he says about this fails to rise above the elementary level.
In general, the uneven and unrepresentative features of Perrin’s text seem to make it an unsatisfactory introduction to critical New Testament scholarship for students in secular colleges and universities. Evangelicals will find it even less suitable. Perrin’s secular perspective makes one wonder why he limited this introduction to the canonical New Testament, particularly when several documents from among the Apostolic Fathers are earlier than Perrin judges the Pastorals and Second Peter to be. Undoubtedly the chief value of the book for evangelicals will lie in the fact that it is the best introduction to radical criticism’s contemporary views on the Gospels and Acts.
Holy Scripture, by G. C. Berkouwer (Eerdmans, 377 pp., $8.95). The thirteenth volume in the widely acclaimed Studies in Dogmatics series is especially important and will be of interest even to those who have not acquired the other volumes.
Is There a Place I Can Scream?, by Harold Myra (Doubleday, 103 pp., $4.95). Colloquial prayers by the longtime editor, then publisher, of Campus Life. It was released shortly before he accepted the invitation to become CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S publisher. (The staff has been assured that its offices are not seen as the answer to the title question.)
Ambassadors of Armstrongism, by Paul Benware (Presbyterian and Reformed, 178 pp., n.p., pb), Know the Marks of Cults, by Dave Breese (Victor, 128 pp., $1.50 pb), God and the Gurus, by R. D. Clements (InterVarsity, 64 pp., $1.25 pb), The Witnesses, by Chandler W. Sterling (Regnery, 198 pp., $8.95), and Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age (Church of Scientology [5930 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, Cal. 90028], 64 pp., $10). Biblical Christianity is not the only religion aggressively seeking converts. Benware analyzes and criticizes the “Worldwide Church of God.” Breese discusses cults and their errors in a general sense. Three Western expressions of Hinduism are the subject of Clements’s informative pamphlet. Sterling, a retired Episcopal bishop, gives a survey of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is sympathetic, informative, and not critical. The Scientologists offer a brief, lavish presentation of their own beliefs and activities.
Epistles to the Apostle, by Colin Morris (Abingdon, 176 pp., $3.95 pb). Imaginary letters from a variety of his contemporaries to Paul. Liberties are taken, but some good insights are provided into circumstances surrounding the epistles. Informal.
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, five volumes, edited by Merrill Tenney (Zondervan, 5,064 pp., $79.95 the set). Don’t be put off by the price: it works out to about a penny and a half a page, and most pages contain two columns of text. There are numerous illustrations, but “pictorial” in the title is misleading if it suggests coffee-table showpieces. This is a serious work of reference that every serious Bible student should welcome. Also, it should be recommended to every school and public library, as a counterpart by evangelical scholars to the similar-size Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.
You Can Tell the World, by Sherwood Wirt (Augsburg, 127 pp., $3.50 pb). The editor of Decision gives good, practical advice for Christians who feel the itch to write.
The Naming of Persons, by Paul Tournier (Harper & Row, 118 pp., $5.95). Yet another worthwhile book by the Swiss physician. A biblically based exposition of the role of names in our lives. Good insights into family relations.
So That’s What Missions Is All About, by Wade Coggins (Moody, 127 pp., $1.95 pb). For those uninformed about missions, here is a simple explanation of missionary purpose and function for group study. In addition to the commonly known mission facts there are Scripture passages to study and questions to discuss.
Lost!, by Thomas Thompson (Atheneum, 249 pp., $8.95). The true story of three people lost at sea on a small boat. Discussion of their relationships to God make up a major portion of the book. Exciting and thought-provoking.
The Key, by Bob Forbes (Vantage, 182 pp., $5.95). The story of how a radio announcer discovered the meaning of life in God’s Word. Gives many practical hints about Scripture reading and memorization. Through the Bible With Those Who Were There, by Harold and Carole Staughn (Tyndale, 270 pp., $3.95). An introductory overview of the Scriptures that focuses on Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. Numerous questions for personal reflection and discussion. Recommended.
Personal Bible Study, by William C. Lincoln (Bethany Fellowship, 153 pp., np). Outlines a six-step method of inductive Bible study based on the author’s years of teaching at Northeastern Bible College. Compares the student with a detective. Simple and helpful for beginners.
Peace—On Not Leaving It to the Pacifists, edited by Gerald Pedersen (Fortress, 88 pp., $2.95 pb). Eight Lutheran spokesmen call for an “aggressive” peace, action that takes the initiative in establishing peace whenever and wherever. Thought—provoking beginning on the topic.
The Abusers, by Gary Fisher (Mott Media, [Box 236, Milford, Mich. 48042], 213 pp., $2.95 pb). The results of child abuse are seen in this autobiographical account. He deals more with his responses than with the abuse or the abusers. Finally an evangelical is approaching the subject.
To Serve the Present Age, edited by Donald Dumbaugh (Brethren Press, 224 pp., $4.95 pb). From within the movement comes the story of the Church of the Brethren’s relief work following World War II as told by eighteen participants. Strong testimony to the unity of social consciousness with biblical Christianity.
Charity, Morality, Sex and Young People, by Robert Fox (Our Sunday Visitor, 173 pp., $1.95 pb). A Catholic priest tells what he thinks his church believes about sexual morality. Informally written for the Catholic teenager as an attempt to communicate a conservative perspective. Rather didactic in places.
Love/Hate And Theology
Between Belief and Unbelief, by Paul W. Pruyser (Harper & Row, 1974, 301 pp., $10), is reviewed by Lewis Rambo, graduate student, University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, Illinois.
With the publication in 1968 of A Dynamic Psychology of Religion and now with Between Belief and Unbelief, Paul Pruyser of the Menninger Foundation, has established himself as an innovative contributor to the psychology of religion. The first book shifted the focus of traditional psychology of religion from its previous preoccupation with conversion, mysticism, and other extraordinary religious experiences to the ambience of the ordinary believer. The book was also novel in that it used the categories of psychology as the organizing principles for the study of religious phenomena.
Between Belief and Unbelief is an exciting sequel to the earlier book. In it Pruyser explores the interface between religious affirmation and denial. It is his contention that every sensitive religious and nonreligious person in the contemporary world is plagued, either consciously or unconsciously, by pervasive tension, conflict, and doubt with regard to faith and nonfaith. In addition to the social milieu of both secularization and religious revival, there is the psychological environment of interpersonal (especially familial) ambivalence, ambiguity, affection, and animosity. Although aware of the importance of the sociological context, as a psychologist Pruyser focuses on the individual within the complex field of relationships.
Between Belief and Unbelief is based on two fundamental assumptions. First, the individual’s experience of and participation in the family drama play a major role in molding his religious or irreligious response. Second, specific beliefs are reflections of this process, and beliefs, like persons, give gratifications to their possessors. Pruyser’s position is, of course, a refinement of the Freudian theory of the importance of early experience in the family matrix. It should be quickly noted, however, that Pruyser does extend and qualify the psychoanalytic perspective and refuses to use psychoanalysis to reduce religion to nothing but the oedipus complex or some other monothematic interpretation. Indeed, in both books Pruyser avers that the psychology of religion is only one of many perspectives on religion and certainly not a total explanation of it. He acknowledges that religion is a complex phenomenon. He is also aware that religion has both its creative and its destructive manifestations.
Even though many religious people argue that theological positions are arrived at by a process of rational analysis (the atheist also so argues), Pruyser states that inevitably religious positions are most often the result of love/hate relationships with significant figures in a person’s life. A stark example would be the atheist who is an atheist in part because his father is a devout minister. In other words, the hate dimension of the atheist’s ambivalent feeling for his father is diverted into a rejection of what his father cherishes most. Such a clearly identifiable process rarely occurs, of course. Most people have far more subtle love/hate for their parents and their beliefs. A more common example would be the person who is an orthodox Christian in doctrinal affirmations but who lives in a vindictive and authoritarian manner. Whatever the case, there are psychological gratifications to be received by rejecting or accepting particular beliefs and specific styles of life associated with the beliefs.
The bulk of Between Belief and Unbelief is an extensive discussion not of traditional theological assertions but of ways of coping with the perennial conundrums of human existence: autonomy and dependence, mystery, providence, and fantasy and reality. These issues pervade the whole life cycle, and the beliefs and modes of life that are strategies of dealing with these problems are fraught with tensions and satisfactions. Except for rigid atheists and superorthodox people, everyone is continuously struggling, to a greater or lesser degree, between two poles of belief and disbelief, acceptance and rejection.
A crucial point made in Between Belief and Unbelief is that every belief requires both love and hate; that is to say, beliefs require affirmation and affection for a particular tenet and concurrently a denial and disdain for a contrary view. For example, one must love the good and hate evil (however they are defined). This duality of human response to a belief obviously entails the emotions in a way that is seldom explicitly recognized by those who emphasize the “rational” dimension of belief. Needless to say, Pruyser’s revised Freudianism asserts that the pattern of one’s love and hate emerges from the experience of nurture and/or rejection in the early family context. Although childhood experiences are not ironclad determinants of later life, they cannot be transcended unless a person is vividly aware of the origins of his loves and hates and their possible influence on his view of God, the world, and of human nature.
Pruyser shows a grasp of Sigmund Freud, William James, D. W. Winnicott, and many others and also of the experiential diversity and “thickness” (to use James’s term) of human life. His training as a clinical psychologist has prepared him well to discern the rich detail of ordinary life and the vicissitudes of religion within that life. His appreciation for the turbulence and perplexity of modern life provides him with the appropriate sensibilities to perceive accurately the nuances of faith and doubt among believers and nonbelievers (he notes that nonbelievers also doubt their nonbeliefs). Whatever one’s theological or psychological position may be, reading Pruyser’s Between Belief and Unbelief will be an enjoyable and enlightening process.
The Old Testament On Its Own
A Theology of the Old Testament, by John L. McKenzie (Doubleday, 1974, 336 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Leslie C. Allen, lecturer in Old Testament, London Bible College, England.
Old Testament theology has been such a heated academic talking point in recent years that it is a brave man who ventures a further contribution. McKenzie, a notable Jesuit scholar, comes to the fray well prepared, having previously published a general volume, The Two-edged Sword: An Interpretation of the Old Testament, and an exegetical work, Second Isaiah in the Anchor Bible series. His book is not intended to rival the monumental epics of Eichrodt and von Rad, let alone older works of dogmatics. His useful introduction on “Principles, Methods and Structure” reflects a growing scholarly conviction that there just does not exist a single structural concept into whose confines the Old Testament evidence can somehow be squeezed. Accordingly the book is arranged under a series of topics. He does find a unifying feature in the Old Testament, neither more nor less than the “discovery” or “recognition” of Yahweh: “What emerges in the Old Testament is not a rational system, but a basic personal reality, Yahweh, who is consistent as a person is, not as a rational system.”
The “God-talk” of the Old Testament is placed against its ancient Near Eastern setting. Both contrasts and contacts with the religious thinking of neighboring peoples are brought out. The author writes from a moderate critical position akin to Eissfeldt’s, while in matters of history he stands closer to Noth than to Bright. His role as a modern observer sometimes beclouds his cultural empathy with ancient Israel, for instance, in his denial that the lot was oracular—its use merely indicated, he maintains, that the individual choice did not matter.
Different fields of Israel’s “experience of Yahweh” are discussed under six headings. Cult is happily rescued from the monopoly of Old Testament religion, as a major area of Israel’s contact with its God. Yahweh’s self-revelation is described, through his “authentic spokesmen,” lawgiver, prophet, and scribe; the messages of the prophets are considered individually. The topic of history presents the theological dimensions ascribed to Israel’s history from the patriarchal period to the post-exilic, as “the story of their encounter with Yahweh.” McKenzie is not perturbed that “the history of Israel, like the life of Jesus, does not yield to a quest for the historical Israel.” Like von Rad, he apparently regards theology as “a study of the beliefs of people, not of their history.”
Other topics are nature, political and social institutions (relevant because Israel was a theocracy), wisdom, and the future of Israel. This last topic the author presents as a miscellany of varied themes. The heterogeneous ideals of a prosperous Israel occupying Canaan, of a community centered in the temple, of one that lived by the law, and of one that mediated blessing to other nations jostle the themes of royal messianism, apocalyptic hopes, and moral regeneration.
Throughout this work McKenzie strongly insists that the Old Testament must be studied in its own right and not merely as a preface to the New. He aims to tell it like it was. He does not look back to Irsael with Christian hindsight but stands alongside, looking at their experience of Yahweh and onward to a hazy, jagged horizon of hope. The relation between the Old and New Testaments is, he considers, the task of the New Testament theologian. This may sound like passing the buck or the fault of academic specialization, and McKenzie anticipates the wrath of reviewers! But it is a tenable position. Unfortunately the author sometimes appears to go further and doubt the validity of fulfillment in any legitimate sense. If what he really intends is to jolt the superficial Christian reader of the Old Testament, by drawing attention to the high degree of metamorphosis to which Christ and the New Testament writers subjected Old Testament ideas, and to highlight the ruggedness and distinctiveness of Israel’s faith amidst a pagan environment, perhaps he may be forgiven for shrugging off a task that many other Old Testament theologians have considered vital. A Scripture index and a more theologically oriented subject index would have improved the value of the book as a reference work. Nevertheless I for one will be referring to it often.
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