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New commentary on NT addresses women’s issues from complementarian perspective

June 30, 2006

A new commentary on the NT offers biblical insights on a myriad of issues pertinent to women and seeks to offer evangelical women a biblical alternative to egalitarian commentaries that have interpreted the text of Scripture according to feminist ideals.

A new commentary on the New Testament offers biblical insights on a myriad of issues pertinent to women and seeks to offer evangelical women a biblical alternative to egalitarian commentaries that have interpreted the text of Scripture according to feminist ideals.

Written from an evangelical and complementarian perspective, the Women’s Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament (Broadman & Holman) includes study notes and articles that carefully interpret the text as well as interact with contemporary issues facing women. The single-volume work is edited by Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley.

Why the need for a commentary written specifically for women? To provide evangelical women with a resource that is committed to the inerrancy and absolute integrity of the Word of God, the editors assert.

The editors point out that past efforts such as the feminist-oriented work entitled The Women’s Bible (a work published in 1895 by feminist pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton) have sought to achieve “freedom” for women from the so-called “constraints” of historical Christianity’s interpretation of Scripture.

However, contributors to the Women’s Evangelical Commentary approach the Word of God with no such revisionist agenda, the editors say in the introduction. Instead, they interpret the Scriptures in the same manner as other evangelicals have for centuries.

“The commentators have a passion for woman-to-woman exposition, and the passages selected for comment within the limits of a one-volume commentary on the New Testament were selected with the volume’s audience in mind,” the editors write. “However, in interpreting those passages, the contributors have been committed to evangelical hermeneutical principles that have been tried and proven throughout the generations . . . The team of women accepted the absolute veracity and uniqueness of the Bible. They did not need revisionism or accommodation or relativism.”

Patterson serves as professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as a council member for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and is the author of numerous books including A Handbook for Minister’s Wives and A Handbook for Parents in Ministry. Patterson’s husband, Paige, is president of Southwestern Seminary.

Kelley serves as professor of women’s studies and director of the women’s ministry and the student wives programs at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the author of numerous books including A Woman’s Guide to Personal Holiness and Raising Moms: Daughters Loving Mothers in Their Later Years. Kelley’s husband, Chuck, is president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Both Patterson and Kelley hold Ph.D’s.

The commentary numbers nearly 1,000 pages and its commentary and articles accompany the Holman Christian Standard translation of the New Testament. The volume is designed to provide conservative evangelical women with a scholarly resource to be used in Bible teaching, small group or personal study or daily quiet time.

Numerous other female scholars and authors, including CBMW council member Mary Kassian, have also contributed articles, commentary, and analysis to the volume. The work also includes instructional sections on how to study and interpret the Bible.

The work throughout engages contemporary women’s issues from a biblical perspective. For example, one article contrasts feministic ideology with biblical womanhood and provides exhaustive biblical evidence for the complementarian view of womanhood.

In one of the key passages on the gender debate, 1 Timothy 2, the editors point out the primacy of male leadership in the church, but also offer instruction from the text on how women should attire themselves for worship: “The apostle addressed what were appropriate attire for women in the worship assembly,” the editors write. First, he made the more general exhortation that they should dress themselves in modest clothing . . . the apostle then singled out some items of adornment the Ephesian women were wearing that he deemed especially inappropriate.”

The Women’s Evangelical Commentary is the first in a series of resources for evangelical women. A companion volume on the Old Testament is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2007.

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