This book came to be written for a number of reasons.
In our Christadelphian community the part played by sisters has
varied considerably. In almost all ecclesias sisters exercise the same
authority as brothers when they vote for ecclesial offices. In some ecclesias
sisters are forbidden to take part in any formal discussion; in others they
give Bible Class addresses and have done so from the beginning of last century;
in most they are not allowed to contribute vocally at Breaking of Bread
meetings except in singing.
From time to time those who favour a wider participation by
sisters are criticised on the grounds that this is contrary to Scripture. Over
the years various articles on the subject have been produced, many arguing that
sisters should remain silent in ecclesial meetings. Some of these have been
sent to us with the request that we study them carefully. In addition we have
examined the Bible in detail for ourselves, as well as commentaries, articles
in religious journals, and books on the subject.
is sometimes stated that the desire for participation by sisters arises from
modern feminist arguments. Feminist writers in the world accuse the Bible and
particularly the apostle Paul of being anti-women. By contrast, writing from a
Biblical position, not a feminist one, we consider that a proper analysis of
the Bible and of the apostle Paul’s writings presents a very positive approach
to the involvement of women.
In this book we seek to examine the issues fairly, to be faithful
to the Bible as the Word of God, and to explain what we consequently believe to
be the correct Biblical application. The conclusion we reach is not based on
feminist arguments but on direct Biblical exposition.
are indebted to a large number of people who have commented on previous
versions of this exposition. We have benefited from helpful suggestions from
those who agree with us, and from the critical analysis of those who do not
share our viewpoint. This updated version takes account of the comments we have
received in 2007-2008; we have added considerably more material, and have tried
to clarify our exposition where some points have been misunderstood. We
continue to welcome constructive criticism of anything we write, and will be
happy to correct anything which can be demonstrated to be in error. It is hoped
that the analysis produced here will encourage others to discuss the subject in
depth, to seek to study anew what the Scriptures have to say, and to be
faithful to the Bible by putting into practice the conclusions reached.
& Ian McHaffie
RSV = Revised Standard Version NRSV =
New Revised Standard Version
GNB = Good News Bible REB =
Revised English Bible
KJV = King James Version NIV = New
NEB = New English Bible NKJV =
New King James Version
have usually included the Bible texts on which our reasoning is based rather
than simply quoting the reference. This is to help readers to check whether we
have analysed the text correctly.
authors have also been quoted extensively because it is not always easy to
obtain access to these writers, whether in the original text or in translation.
This book makes information available which is relevant to the context of the
New Testament but is generally unknown. References are given so that the wider
contexts of these quotations can be examined.
From time to time we have given Greek or Hebrew words,
transliterated into English. This is for the sake of comparison and because
there are various possibilities of translation and interpretation.
We all depend on others for translation of the Bible from Hebrew
(Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) into English. Translation is not
straightforward; words have different meanings according to context, and
translations are influenced by the background and understanding of the
translators and commentators. It is important, therefore, never to rely on just
one translation or on one commentator.
few sources are given in the footnotes for those who wish to read in further
detail. These discuss the text, the background, the meaning and the use of the
original words. We are grateful to all the writers we have consulted and from
whose works we have quoted and drawn ideas and suggestions.
we first wrote this material in the early 1990s, the internet has become widely
available. This enables everyone to check the current state of debate about the
meaning of words, and the interpretations of passages. Many ancient sources are
now online, both in the original text and in translation. Many websites also enable
the reader to observe the bias from which various people approach the issues.
This material is available online in Microsoft Word, and as a PDF
Quotations are generally from the Revised Standard Version of the
Bible, copyright 1946, 1952, 1971 by the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission.
Scriptures quoted from the Good
News Bible published by The Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers
Ltd., UK, © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.
In addition, acknowledgements are gladly made to The On-Line Bible which has also been
used in researching and preparing the text, and more recently to Oremus Bible
Browser and Bible Gateway.com.