Two New Books on Early Christianity
What’s With Paul and Women?
Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2.
Paperback: Ekklesia Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Commentary on the Gospel of John
(Ancient Christian Texts Series)
Theodore of Mopsuestia
Hardback: IVP Academic, 2010.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Jon Zens’ newest book with the Seinfeld-esque name What’s With Paul and Women? offers a brief, but pointed critique of the literal and superficial reading of I Timothy 2 that understands that passage as saying that women should categorically never be able to teach men in churches. Zens, who is editor of the engaging and long-thriving periodical Searching Together, does a wonderful job here of confirming my intuitions (and I suspect those of others as well) that Paul’s instruction was contextual – for the church in Ephesus in that time – and not universal. Many objections that might be raised are identified and delicately dismantled. This clear and thorough treatment of this passage is essential reading for anyone who has questions about the place of women teachers in the church, or for anyone in dialogue with those who doubt that women should teach.
The newest volume in IVP’s Ancient Christian Texts Series is Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary on the Gospel of John. Before I picked up this volume, Theodore was not a figure with whom I was familiar, and there is good reason why Theodore’s name is not a familiar one: in the mid-sixth century, more than a hundred years after his death, his writings were condemned as Nestorian and thus heretical and were in large part destroyed. However, as described in the book’s introduction, the latest scholarship (and specifically variant versions of this text that have survived the centuries) calls into question Theodore’s condemnation as a Nestorian. Since the Nestorian controversy centered on the nature of Christ’s person, this commentary on John’s Gospel gives us a excellent vantage point for exploring Theodore’s position, and for broadening our own perspectives on Church History, reminding us of the reality that historical situations – even within the Church – are almost always more complex than what we learn in our basic historical introductions.