Steve's Reviews > Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?

Jesus and the Feminists by Margaret Elizabeth Kostenbe...
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May 20, 12

bookshelves: hard-copy-purchased, kindle
Read from May 15 to 20, 2012

A comprehensive survey and critique of feminist scholarship on the question of whether women should be permitted positions of authority within the Christian community. The problem with the book, as I see it, is that the author comes from a conservative complementarian view on the issue (male and female are equal but have God-determined roles which prohibit women from having any authoritative role) which is presupposed all the way through. She also subscribes to a traditional inerrantist view of the biblical texts that prevents her from moving beyond it to follow the trajectory of liberation of women to participate equally in positions of authority. Her essential argument is that, because the Bible (as interpreted by her) gives no indication of a change to its patricentrism (a term she prefers to patriarchal and which avoids the oppressive connotations of patriarchialism) then we should see the gender roles expressed in Scripture as binding. In my opinion, this limits the progress that is possible if one approaches the biblical material in the same way one does for slavery. While the biblical writers assume the acceptability of slavery, the movement is toward the liberation of slaves from subservience. Christians have followed this trajectory and no longer accept slavery as moral. I would argue the same can be said for women's roles. The author mentions this argument but rejects it without, to my mind, a satisfactorily in depth response. Despite this, the book is definitely worth reading for its survey of feminist thought about the issues - from radical feminism to non-feminist evangelical perspectives.
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