(cont. of S.1.5., “aaa”, article: “Christianity and Cultural Differences”, By Edwin Yamauchi)
What was the position of women in Jewish society? Among the Rabbis it was considered unwise, to talk too much with women, including even one’s own wife. And it was scandalous to talk with a woman alone. The education of women was limited to the domestic arts; they were not expected to study the Scriptures. Women attending the Synagogues were separated from the men by a lattice or sat in a special gallery, and during the service women were expected to sit in silence. (J. Jeremias, “Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus,” 1969, pp. 359 ff., esp. p. 373). The Mishna (Kiddushin, iv:13) stipulates that women may not be teachers, even of children. The same text bars unmarried men from this occupation.
Christianity proclaimed the ideal equality of male and female, both bond and free (Gal. 3:28). To the surprise of His disciples, Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:27). Yashua had a number of devoted women among His disciples. Mary (Lk. 1:46 ff.) and Timothy’s mother and grandmother (IITim. 3:14) were all women who knew the Scriptures. Women played a prominent role in the early churches, as at Philippi; Priscilla even seems to have taken precedence over her husband Aquilla. Nonetheless, in I Tim. 2:11-15, Paul stresses woman’s preeminent role as a mother and denies her a public teaching role, not suffering her “to usurp authority over the man”(v.12).
Scriptures from the beginning regard marriage and the family as God-given institutions. The Communists tried to abolish all sexual ethics after the revolution of 1917 and advocated the “glass of water” policy whereby one satisfied his sexual urge as freely as he satisfied his thirst. In the 1920’s the disastrous consequences of this libertine policy forced them to reverse their stand and officially urge chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage.
I believe that what Paul taught about a women’s role as a mother and her subordination to her husband is still quite valid. On the other hand, in our own culture and in other cultures where women have a more equal public role with men than did the women of the first century, permitting a woman to teach in a Church situation does not seem to be an usurpation of man’s authority. Eugene Nida writes:
“Some missionaries have made the
mistake of excluding women from all
Church responsibilities, thinking that in
so doing they were adhering strictly to
the rules(though not the principles) laid
down by the Apostle Paul. Other
missionaries have thrust entirely too
much authority upon women,
assuming that the role of women in
the indigenous culture was roughly
equivalent to that which they possess
in our own culture. Both extremes are
ill-advised, for it is the genius of the
Good News of God that by the action
of the Holy Spirit it may enter in, sanc-
tifying all forms of human institutions.”
(“Customs and Culture,” p. 28)
What of the universal appeal of Christianity? Given the almost infinite variety of human cultures, it is a most remarkable fact that the Christian good news of Yahweh’s redemption in Yashua Messiah has been preached successfully to so many societies. Here is a message that has burst the bonds of its parochial Palestinian oirigins and has touched the hearts of sophisticated philosophers and savage Auca Indians. Paul affirmed that in Yashua Messiah their can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, Barbarian, Synthian, slave nor free. But Yashua is all and in all (Col. 3:11). Synthians were nomads from Russia whom were considered the epitomy of savagery in the ancient world: they tattooed themselves, collected scalps from their victims, and smoked hemp plant (marijuana).
In the early second century, the Roman Gov. of northwestern Anatolia, Pliny the Younger, in a letter to the Emperor Trajan, complained about the appeal of Christianity to all classes, urban and rural alike. Alarmed at the spreading, he wrote: “…for a great many individuals of every age and class, both men and women, are being brought to trial, and this is likely to continue…not only in the towns, but the villages and rural districts too, which are infected through contact with this wretched cult.”
Rightly understood and rightly preached, Yashua Messiah is the hope of Glory for every man (Col. 1:27-28), whatever his culture, kindred, people, tongue, or nation (Rev. 5:9).
(End of Article. Next email attachment article is S.1.5., “b”, article: “Reader Responses,” Christianity Today, August, 1972, “Using Woman,”By Nancy Hardestyand directly following it is Mr. Edwin Yamauchi’s answering her letter). See ya and glory to our Father, Yahweh, and to our Lord and Savior, Yashua Messiah. Amen