How to change the world (or a union)

Neil generated some discussion with his ‘top ten list of influential English Baptists’ here (see also Juliet’s thoughts in response here). Neil was imagining who ought to be round a table if the future of BUGB was up for grabs. It seems to me three things have been conflated, perhaps unhelpfully, in the discussion that has followed. First, ‘influential’ most naturally means those with influence. There are people in any community or organisation who, if you convince them of the rightness of your case, can make something happen. These might be those who hold senior positions, or those who are key opinion-formers. I’m not going to list names, but it’s not hard… Second, and what Neil was intending, I think, there are...

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Junia (3): a different witness from history

From (an English translation of) a commentary on Romans: Though Paul is not wont to make much of kindred, and of other things belonging to the flesh, yet as the relationship which Junia and Andronicus bore to him, might avail somewhat to make them more fully known, he neglected not this commendation. There is more weight in the second eulogy, when he calls them his fellow-prisoners; for among the honors belonging to the warfare of Christ, bonds are not to be counted the least. In the third place, he calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning, but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere. He then, in a general way, calls those in this...

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Junia (2): the evil of bad scholarship

I hope I conveyed both something of Scot’s passion in Junia is not Alone, and something of the fact that I share it, in the previous post. Strangely, however, one of the results of reading the book for me was a greater degree of sympathy for (some) of those I’ve met who take/took a male-only leadership position. You see, they were faithful men & women, striving hard to be true to the Bible. And they’d been given Greek Bibles and commentaries that wrote Junia out of the picture so totally that the idea that ‘Junias’ could be a woman was never even considered. It wasn’t their fault that they’d never heard of her; they’d never been given the chance to hear of her. Now, I know Rom. 16:7 isn’t the only text,...

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Scot McKnight, Junia is not Alone: a review

Last week Scot McKnight put out a little ebook, available from your national Amazon, under the title Junia is not Alone: Breaking our silence about women in the Bible and the church today. I downloaded and read it the day after it came out. It is short, cheap, passionate, and excellent. McKnight opens his book with some anecdotal evidence about how the female leaders in the Bible are somehow overlooked in the contemporary church. Huldah is as important as Nathan in the story of Israel’s prophets, but put the two of them on a quiz paper, and I think we all know what the result would be… Junia is then introduced as a way into the big picture of female leaders in the Bible. Why doesn’t Paul make more of Junia? Because Paul knows his Bible, and...

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The Politics of Christmas

I don’t usually highlight my own writing here, but since this is available for free, I thought I’d mention it. I was commissioned by the excellent political thinktank Theos to write on ‘The Politics of Christmas’. The brief noted that we tend to assume that Christmas should be apolitical in our contemporary celebrations, but that the original gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus were perhaps less than apolitical, and that this invited some exploration. (If you know your recent NT scholarship and you’re thinking ‘shooting fish in small bucket; never mind barrel’ – well, yes, guess why I took the commission…) The report was released today; it explores the reasons Christmas became depoliticised in the Victorian...

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