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Gender & Faith

Was Abigail Right to Go Behind Nabal’s Back?

By Arts, Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Marriage, Women One Comment

One morning after I taught a women’s Bible study on the life of Abigail—wife of Nabal, a woman hustled over to me, elbows swinging. Seeing her body language, I braced myself.

Her argument about my teaching went something like this: “You’re wrong! Abigail was most definitely not righteous. By taking matters into her own hands, she shows what happens when a wife steps out from under her husband’s ‘umbrella of authority.’ If Abigail had submitted to Nabal rather than intervening, David would have felt guilty for killing Nabal, and that guilt would have kept him from killing later.”

I’d heard this interpretation already—from Bill Gothard, among others.

So how do we figure out how to interpret this story? Was Abigail good or evil? The text itself provides the needed clues.

We find the “Abigail and David” story in 1 Samuel 25:2–43. The narrator begins with his assessment: “[Abigail] was …

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Women’s History Month: Meet Some Female Martyrs from the Early Church

By Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Women No Comments

When I spoke to a class of seminary students recently about women in public ministry in the early church, someone asked me to share some names and narratives about our foremothers. It seemed fitting to provide a sampling here during Women’s History Month. (Some day I hope we will simply learn “history”; but until women are included in the telling of history, we’ll continue to need a special annual focus.) You can find all the women listed below in the mosaics of Ravenna’s “new” (6th c) Basilica of Sant’Apollinare. I’ve included a summary of the stories that usually accompany them, as well. You will notice a theme of women exercising agency over their own bodies to the glory of God.

Agatha. Virgin martyr. Agatha died in 251. Born in Sicily into a noble family, she steadfastly vowed to remain a virgin. She was taken to a house of prostitution, tortured by …

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Bible Backgrounds: Read Some NT Books with the Artemis Cult in View

By Gender & Faith No Comments

Ever seen drawings of the ancient goddess Artemis? If so, she was probably carrying a bow and arrow. More recent iterations of her as Wonder Woman still depict her the same way—with shields, bows, and arrows.

Ancient literature includes many references to Artemis as a master of archery. We see a similar connection in the epigraphic (inscription) evidence. In what is known as “the Oracle Inscription” found in the ruins of Ephesus, the goddess is described as “Artemis of the golden quiver,” a “shooter of arrows” and a “straight-shooting one.” In the ancient Ephesians’ manifestation of her, as with the more generic Artemis, the arrow was her primary weapon.

What does Artemis have to do with Bible? Maybe a lot…

Talking about spiritual warfare in his epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 6:10–18), Paul was writing to people in this city that served as guardian of Artemis’s temple and Ground Zero …

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