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More Precious Things:

More Precious Things:

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More Precious Things:

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  1. More Precious Things: Evidence for Women's Priesthood in Earliest Christianity The way to find the true religion and the pure gospel is to find out what Jesus and the ancient apostles taught. ~ Bruce R. McConkie

  2. About Me • “Evangelical Mutt” • Member of the Evangelical Covenant Church • Never-Mormon • BA in Classics from BYU • Married to an active Latter-day Saint • Student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

  3. Egalitarianism • Within evangelicalism: egalitarianism v. complementarianism • Christians for Biblical Equality • Our beliefs on women in the Bible and early Christianity

  4. Women in Mormonism • Church tends to be uncomfortable with examples of biblical women who do not fit into its current “femininity” mold • Lessons taught on scriptural women tend to stick to women as mothers and wives and dependents

  5. “More Precious Things” New Testament era and onward Evidence for women as apostles, bishops, elders, priests, and deacons Evidence of other female ministries – widows and house church leaders Evidence that women were performing baptisms and administering the Eucharist Discussion of how they were undone How Mormons can interpret this data into their framework

  6. Types of Evidence New Testament data + Patristic and Canonical commentary on the texts Early Christian texts – mentions of women leaders in church canons, letters, biographies Inscriptional evidence – dedicatory inscriptions, funerary epithets Visual evidence – artistic depictions of women that appear to denote a sacramental or liturgical role Polemical evidence – Church fathers and canonical decrees condemning the already existing practice of ordaining women

  7. Beware of Anachronisms! People who write about this topic do this all the time Confession: My paper subtitle is actually guilty of this We want to be careful to let the data speak for itself and not impose categories and functions from later periods on these offices and texts A lot can change about a church's polity in a very short period of time – Mormon feminists of all people would know this

  8. Apostle – Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” (NRSV) This passage has received considerable attention in evangelical circles in the last two decades Was it a man or a woman? Prominent among the apostles v. prominent in the eyes of the apostles? Was “apostle” meant as an authoritative office?

  9. John Chrysostom on Junia c. 347 - 407 “'Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles': To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles—just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.” (In ep. ad Romanos 31.2)

  10. Deacons – Romans 16:1-2, 1 Tim. 3:8-11 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.” “Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.”

  11. Origen on Phoebe Origen (185-253) as preserved in Latin by Rufinus (345-410) “'I commend to you Phoebe . . .' This passage teaches by apostolic authority that women also are appointed in the ministry of the church, in which office Phoebe was placed at the church that is in Cenchreae. Paul with great praise and commendation even enumerates her splendid deeds . . . And therefore this passage teaches two things equally and is to be interpreted, as we have said, to mean that women are to be considered ministers in the church, and that such ought to be received into the ministry who have assisted many; they have earned the right through their good deeds to receive apostolic praise.” (Commentary on Romans 10.17)

  12. John Chrysostom on 1 Tim. 3:11 “'Likewise women must be modest, not slanderers, sober, faithful in everything.' Some say that he is talking about women in general. But that cannot be. Why would he want to insert in the middle of what he is saying something about women? But rather, he is speaking of those women who hold the rank of deacon. 'Deacons should be husbands of one wife.' This is also appropriate for women deacons, for it is necessary, good, and right, most especially in the church.” (Homily 11)

  13. Theodoret of Cyrrhus on 1 Tim. 3:11 c. 393-460 “'In the same way, women' that is, the deacons, 'are to be serious, not irresponsible talkers, sober, faithful in everything.' What he directed for the men, he did similarly for the women. Just as he told the male deacons to be serious, he said the same for the women. As he commanded the men not to be two-faced, so he commanded the women not to talk irresponsibly. And as he commanded the men not to drink much wine, so he ordered the women should be temperate.” (Commentary on 1 Timothy)

  14. Other Women Leaders in the NT The widows (1 Tim. 5:3-16); an ordained ministry? House church leaders: Lydia (Acts 16:14-15; 40), Nympha (Col. 4:15), Chloe (1 Cor. 1:11), Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16), Priscilla (Rom. 16:3-5), and possibly the “elect lady” and her “chosen sister” in 2 John. Euodia & Synteche (Philippians 4:2-3); Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350 - 428) read this as a struggle between the two women for leadership.

  15. Female Deacons & Deaconesses Distinction between διάκονος and διακόνισσα Mentions of female deacons and deaconesses are abundant; more so in the East but they do find mention in the West, particularly in the form of polemics against the practice Wives of male deacons were generally not given the title of “deaconess,” unlike the wives of elders Descriptions of their function don't start appearing until the late second and early third centuries Madigan and Osiek on the function of female deacons

  16. Administering the Eucharist • Fractio Panis, late 1st – early 2nd century

  17. 5th & 6th Century References If pregnant women could not attend the assembly on Sunday, deaconesses could take the Eucharist to their home (Testamentum Domini 2:20, 5th century) Three Gallic bishops chastised two priests for allowing women to assist in the Eucharist in 511 AD In Edessa, deaconesses could distribute the Eucharist to their female companions who lived in convents (Canonical Resolutions 24, 6th century)

  18. Performing Baptisms Acts of Paul and Thecla (2nd century) depicts Thecla performing a self-baptism (cf. Alma in Mosiah 18:13-14) Tertullian (c. 160 - 220) railed against women performing baptisms (On Baptism 17.4) In several texts as early as the first half of the third century, female deacons are described as assisting with baptisms and anointing the bodies of the female converts with oil before or after baptism In others, it is the women themselves performing the baptisms

  19. Didascalia Apostolorum & Apostolic Constitutions on Baptisms DA 15 (early 3rd century): “We do not approve of women baptizing or of being baptized by a woman because this is unlawful and a great danger both to those who baptize and those who are baptized.” AC 3.9.1 (late 4th century): “Now for women performing baptism, we assure you that it is no small risk for those undertaking this. Therefore, we do not advise it, for it is perilous, rather uncustomary, and irreverent.”

  20. Justinian, Novellae (6th Century) “First, [the deaconesses] should be of right age, neither too young at the fullness of passion, vulnerable to making false steps, but already well into life, about fifty years old, according to the sacred canons. Thus they can arrive at sacred ordination, whether they are virgins or have been married to one man. We do not allow those married twice or those of notorious life or under any suspicion to approach the sacred diaconate to administer baptism to those who present themselves and to participate in other secret rites and most sacred mysteries that they are accustomed to practice.” (6.6)

  21. What happened to the female deacons? Three church councils in the West in the 5th and 6th centuries mentioned the practice of ordaining female deacons and condemned it The office died out in the East, in part because infant baptism became the norm and replaced the need for female deacons to baptize adult female converts We still find much later references to female deacons in a few scattered sources

  22. Female Elders Far less evidence for female elders than female deacons, but still some compelling mentions Contra the trends with deacons, we find more female elders in the West than in the East We have 15 known inscriptions referring to women who are called by the feminine form of “elder.” Since the wives of elders were sometimes called by the term, we can't be certain that every reference to a female presbyter is meant to denote an ecclesiastical office. However, usually when that was the case, the husband was titled and mentioned along with her

  23. Guilia Runa, Presbyter of Hippo • Mosaic in the Church of St. Augustine in Hippo • 5th century • “Guilia Runa, Presbyter, Rest in Peace, Lived for Forty Years” • The prominence of her title, presbiterissa, suggests that she was a recognized leader in her community

  24. Leta - Presbytera • “Sacred to her good memory, Leta the Presbyter live 40 years, 8 months and 9 days. Her husband made [this tombstone]. She preceded him in peace on the day before the ides of May.” • 4th or 5th century from Tropea, Calabria • Her husband is mentioned but not honored as an elder

  25. Flavia Vitalia & Martia AD 425 inscription on a sarcophagus in Dalmatia: “Under our Lord Theodosius, consul for the 11th time, and Valentinian, most noble man of Caesar, I, Theodosius, bought [a burial tomb] from the matron Flavia Vitalia, holy presbyter for three golden solids.” A graffito from Poitiers, France (4th-6th century?): “Martia the presbyter made the oblation equally along with Olybrius and Nepos.”

  26. Council of Laodicea Canon 11 4th century “Concerning those who are called presbytides or female presiders, it is not permitted to appoint them in the Church.” Later evidence corroborates the interpretation that this is an attempt to eliminate the practice of ordaining women as elders in the church

  27. Bishops & Priests • Episcopa Theodora, Church of St. Praxedis, AD 820 • Mother of Pope Paschal I • Her husband, mentioned in other texts, is not a bishop • Vandals tried to scratch off the “a” in “episcopa” in an attempt to obscure her gender

  28. Bishops & Priests “Here lies the venerable woman, bishop Q (uenerabilis fem[ina] episcopa Q), buried in peace for five [years] . . . +Olybrio.” - Damaged inscription at St. Paul's Basilican Cemetary in Rome, 4th-6th century Canon 20 of the Council of Tours (6th century) mentions an “episcopa Terni” A 5th century fragmentary inscription is dedicated to a priestess in Solin. A cross on the inscription indicates that it was a Christian priestess, not a pagan one

  29. Epiphanius of Salamis & the Montanists c. 310-403: “They use both the Old and New Testament and also speak in the same way of a resurrection of the dead. They consider Quintilla together with Priscilla as founder, the same as Cataphrygians. They bring with them many useless testimonies, attributing special grace to Eve because she first ate of the tree of knowledge. They acknowledge the sister of Moses as a prophetess as support for their practice of appointing women to the clergy. Also, they say, Philip had four daughters who prophesied. Often in their assembly seven virgins dressed in white enter carrying lamps, having come in to prophesy to ecstasy;

  30. Epiphanius of Salamis & the Montanists “they pretend to weep as if showing the grief of repentance by shedding tears and by their appearance lamenting human life. Women among them are bishops, presbyters, and the rest, as if there were no difference in nature. “For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female” [Gal 3:28]. These are the things we have learned. They are called Artotyritai because in their mysteries they use bread and cheese and in this fashion they perform their rites.” (Panarion, 49.2.1-3)

  31. Why oppose the ordination of women? Quoted often in modern debate: Citations of 1 Tim. 2:12, 1 Cor. 14:34, etc. Concern for the differences between the sexes Not-so-quoted-often in modern debate: The inferiority of women and weakness of the sex Women are being perpetually punished for Eve's sin Women are ritually impure due to menstruation The early church fathers were not complementarians & they did not believe in republican motherhood; they simply thought women were inferior to men in every way possible

  32. Atto, Bishop of Vercelli Writing to Ambrose the Priest in the early 10th century, to answer questions he had received about the mention of female elders and female deacons in the earlier canons Is possibly working from sources now lost to us Affirms that women were ordained elders and deacons; he says this was done due to necessity and that it is no longer required Mentions the Council of Laodicea Canon 11 and affirms that this was an attempt to end the ordination of female elders

  33. How to Interpret this Data? Option 1 – Rejection, Dismissal “We don't care if apostate Christian groups were ordaining women” Option 2 – A polemic against Joseph Smith We can look at this data and say, “Look what Joseph Smith neglected to restore.” Option 3 – Acceptance Yes, women did hold a priesthood in ancient times The 9th Article of Faith allows that God still has things to reveal; gives Latter-day Saints room to be accepting of this data