Saturday, October 9, 2021

What's Up With OliveTree?

I am irritated, and a bit troubled, by OliveTree Bible study software (

Once upon a time, they were really prompt about making study resources available for purchase within the OliveTree app. Sometimes, the release of the print version coincided with the e-version and a nearly simultaneous OliveTree-formatted version. Today, they are really slow about new releases of actual study materials. Oh, there are plenty of Christian Living type (trade paperback) books coming up in OliveTree; but commentaries and the like are few and far between.

Are they going to just retire on their current academic offerings? Some examples:

* The soon-to-be-released 1&2 Thessalonians commentary in the Paideia commentary set has been in the "Upcoming Releases" OliveTree page, along with the complete New Testament Paideia set. Today, both modules are no longer in the list.

* The Jewish Study Bible Notes 2nd Edition module has been on the list for a LONG time. E-versions in other formats (e.g., Kindle) have been available for some time. (In fairness, this may be an Oxford Publishing problem. Many of the high-end Oxford study resources have never been widely available in electronic format).

* The KJV Hebrew and Hebrew-Greek to English interlinear Bibles have been in the "Upcoming" for forever. What's the holdup?

* There is a new edition of the Jerome Commentay, The Jerome Biblical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century, Third Fully Revised Edition (Catholic), ETA 2022. No whisper of its anticipated availability in OliveTree.

* The New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition in being released in about six weeks. Isn't OliveTree in any kind of negotiation to offer the translation for the app?

I also think it strange that they are preparing the new Christian Standard Commentary volumes for release; but these commentaries are word-for-word duplicates of the New American Commentary set (same publisher) which is already available in OliveTree—for half the price! 

OliveTree used to offer a new sale every week, starting every Sunday afternoon. Now the "This Week's Sale" starts arbitrarily on some weekday and it drags on for 2½ to 3 weeks. The "This Weekend Only Sale" drags on or two weekends. This week's "Midnight Sale: A New Deal Every Night" makes no sense. There is not a new deal every night. The typical sale prices are not so wonderful as they used to be either.

I know the sales team has to ask publishers for permission to put their books on sale. Does anybody at OliveTree have that job anymore. Is the employee in charge of publisher relations too busy with divided responsibilities?

I was somewhat nervous about buying electronic reference books because, if OliveTree ever folds, I might loose my books! Most of the time, when a software company folds, some similar company buys them out and also absorbs their customer base. QuickBooks (Intuit), for example, once bought out another accounting software and they created a conversion tool to convert the books in the other software over to QuickBooks. All the customers form the other software recieved free copies of QuickBooks.

It doesn't always work that way. I was once a customer of a Bible software called QuickVerse. They folded. They were bought out by another Bible software called WordSearch. WordSearch never tried to accommodate QuickVerse customers like me and I lost all my QuickVerse purchases. WordSearch was recently absorbed into Logos Bible software. Logos did accommodate former WordSearch customers. They were able to keep their former purchases. If WordSearch had transitioned my QuickVerse stuff over, I would probably be a Logos customer today. If OliveTree gets absorbed into Logos, I will not be real happy since there are some really annoying features of Logos. (You have to pay for software updates; they want you to subscribe to stuff rather than buy it; it nearly requires an Internet connection to use). However, at least I will be able to keep my OliveTree purchases.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Genesis 37: The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife

 Genesis 37 accounts for Joseph's journey to Egypt.

The subplot of this story is that Joseph's brothers became very angry with Joseph on account of his confrontational dreams they kept hearing about and their jealousy that their father Jacob had given Joseph a special robe. In their anger and jealousy, they mistreated Joseph who eventually wound up in the hands of merchants who took Joseph to Egypt and sold him there.

Matthew Henry noticed that Joseph's story parallel's Christ's since Jacob sent Joseph to check on the welfare (Shalom) of his brothers; but the brothers mistreated him.

Joseph was a type of Christ; for though he was the beloved Son of his Father, and hated by a wicked world, yet the Father sent him out of his bosom to visit us in great humility and love. He came from heaven to earth to seek and save us; yet then malicious plots were laid against him. His own not only received him not, but crucified him. This he submitted to, as a part of his design to redeem and save us.

 With respect to the sharp conflict between the sons of Jacob, Terence Fretheim saw an application to denominationalism.

Eventually no one will be excluded; all twelve carry the promises into the future (Genesis 50:24). These intrafamilial conflicts mirror exclusivistic efforts among the people of God in every age. This story finally witnesses to reconciliation among the brothers and the end of exclusion. No individual in this story emerges innocent. Even Joseph, though certainly the primary victim, furnishes fuel for his own troubles. Everyone in his own way contributes to the mess in which the family finds itself; at the same time, to level out the sins of the characters and to make everyone equally irresponsible is to fail to consider issues of communal consequence. ("Genesis," NIB, OliveTree e-resource)

I am fascinated by Genesis 37:35

All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him.

These sons were the primary cause of their father's grief. What consolation did they offer?

I think of the Ferengi Rule Of Acquisition #48:
"The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife."

I am also reminded of the Psalm where the psalmist was deathly sick and a false friend came and consoled him and wished for his recovery but privately hoped for his death.

Psalms 41:5-9
My enemies wonder in malice
when I will die, and my name perish.
And when they come to see me, they utter empty words,
while their hearts gather mischief;
when they go out, they tell it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.
They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,
that I will not rise again from where I lie.
Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Genesis 36: Missional Election

Genesis 36:1
These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom).

Genesis 36 records the family tree of Esau. Most of these names we know only through their preservation by Israelite sources. Why would Israelite sources bother to detail the family of a non-chosen people?

The reason is because election is about vocation and mission (Genesis12:3; 28:14). The elect have a vocational duty of mission towards the non-elect.

We must never think of ourselves as better because we are elect. We are elect to be servants of one another and of all the families of the earth.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Head ≠ Authority

The general understanding of the concept of headship in the New Testament is that "head" is a metaphor for "source of origin" or "provider," whichever is indicated by context... except in the cases of two verses in which the metaphorical meaning is "authority."

I confidently reject the exception and will explain why in this article.

Here are some examples of the Greek metaphorical use of "head" in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head [origin] of every man (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3), and the husband [man] is the head [source] of his wife [woman] (Genesis 2:21-23), and God is the head [source] of Christ (Luke 1:35).

Eph 4:15-16
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head [provider], into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is the head [provider] of the wife just as Christ is the head [provider] of the church, the body of which he is the Savior.

The case is really easy to show that "head" in these verses relates to caretaking and/or origin. A common rebuttal from complementarians is to show that there are a few verses in the New Testament that use the word "head" to mean "authority." There is no need to concede this point; yet many egalitarians do. Here are the verses.

Colossians 2:10

and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.

For this verse to be talking about Jesus' authority over secular rulers, Paul should have used the word "authority" instead of "head." Certainly, Jesus has authority over rulers and authorities; but the Lord's authority is not the subject of this verse. One need only look back a few paragraphs in Colossians to know what this verse is talking about.

Col 1:15-17
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him [i.e., Christ is their source of origin]. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together [i.e., Christ is their sustainer].

Headship in Colossians 2:10 is about source of origin and sustenance. Not "authority."

Ephesians 1:22

And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,

"Under his feet" and "head over" mean two different things. "Under his feet" does denote authority. "Head over..." does not (in Greek culture).

To begin, it is important to avoid drawing too firm of conclusions from this verse. "Head over," for example, should be translated as "head for" (kephalē hyper) if the translators were consistent. "For the church" (ho ekklēsia) is not quite right either. A strictly literal translation would be "the the church" but that is kind of awkward. "Ho" means to indicate "ekklēsia" and if we want to translate "ho" into the English translation we should render something like "namely, the church." Thus, a completely accurate and proper translation of the verse would be,

And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head for all things, namely, the church.

The verse means, and I paraphrase, "God has placed Christ in authority over everything and God has made Christ the sustainer [= head] of all things, that is, the church" [the second use off all things denotes the church].

Now, could this verse mean that Christ's headship means Christ's authority? It could; but not even close to conclusively. Understanding Christ's headship as provider for the church is bolstered by context.

Christ is

  • the source of every spiritual blessing
    Ephesians 1:3
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
  • our source for adoption
    Ephesians 1:5
    He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,
  • our source of redemption
    Ephesians 1:7
    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
  • our source of inheritance
    Ephesians 1:11, 14
    In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will....
    this [the Holy Spirit] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
  • giver of the Holy Spirit
    Ephesians 1:13-14
    In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians chapter 1 seems to be saying that Christ is the giver of all spiritual blessings for the spiritual health and success of the church.

Christ as source for the church is the strongest likelyhood of the meaning of "head" in Ephesians 1:22. To interpret "head" as authority in that verse is not supported by good biblical exegesis. To claim as much with an air of confidence is an artificial attempt to "teach from a position of authority." Many teachers in the churches of Christ think that uncertainty about this-or-that Bible verse is BAD TEACHING. I disagree. Teaching with confidence something that is not clear or conclusive in the Bible is BAD TEACHING.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Reasons for the Decline of Women in Public Ministry

Janette Hassey, "EVANGELICAL WOMEN IN MINISTRY A CENTURY AGO: The 19th and Early 20th Centuries," Discovering Biblical Equality. OliveTree e-resource.


What can account for the gradual decline of public ministry opportunities for evangelical women between the world wars? First, fundamentalist separatist subcultures emerged which tended to harden on the women’s issue. Second, as fundamentalism institutionalized, women were squeezed out of leadership roles. Third, the conservative Protestant backlash against changing social values resulted in restrictions on women in ministry. Finally, a more literalist view of Scripture among fundamentalists meant less flexibility in interpreting the subject of women in ministry.

Separatist fundamentalist subcultures. Between the world wars, fundamentalists lost the battle for control of mainline denominations and schools; in regrouping, they created a host of separate institutions. Whereas the nineteenth-century evangelical empire had stood near the center of American culture, the fundamentalism of the 1930s withdrew and formed distinct subcultures. Part of the movement veered in a militant, separatist, extremist direction, often allied with far right-wing politics. In that process of narrowing, opportunities for women also tightened.

Although united briefly in the initial attack on modernist theology, fundamentalism began to splinter in defeat. A growing disputatious, antiecumenical attitude among fundamentalists eliminated earlier cooperative interdenominational undertakings such as WCTU meetings. The Pentecostal practices of tongues and healing and even Methodist perfectionism increasingly antagonized fundamentalists. 

The feminist heritage was lost even among the holiness churches, except where it was institutionalized, as in the Salvation Army. By World War II most evangelicals could go a lifetime never having heard a woman preacher or pastor, and girls grew up with fewer and fewer role models of women in public ministry.

Significantly, fundamentalism widened geographically during the same decades in which it narrowed denominationally. Whereas early fundamentalist strength had lain in the urban North, the welcoming into their fold of southern conservative cousins like the Southern Baptists produced a shift of strength to the southern Bible Belt. This change paralleled the establishment of Dallas Seminary, a fundamentalist graduate school in the South. Southern conservative social values, which traditionally included the subordinate place of women in society and church, typified an increasingly large segment of the fundamentalist constituency.

The early fundamentalist involvement in social action waned as the movement became more rigid. Historical distance from earlier temperance and suffrage crusades decreased one’s chances of hearing evangelical women speak publicly in church. The secular feminist movement certainly lost steam and direction after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the vote in 1920. As evangelicals turned from active social concern and reform to institution-building and theological squabbles, women lost opportunities to speak out on behalf of others as they had done in support of temperance and suffrage.

Institutionalization. Both Moody Bible Institute and the Evangelical Free Church illustrate the process of institutionalization and its effect on women’s roles. Changes in educational programs in these denominations furnish one indication of this change. MBI, for instance, began in the 1880s as a practical training center for women and men in lay ministry. MBI’s inauguration of a graduate school a century later suggests an enormous transformation. Similarly, early Free churches typically supported itinerant lay evangelists rather than seminary-trained pastors. The establishment of doctoral programs at Trinity University later in the twentieth century also indicates immense institutional transition.

With the rising social status of many churches came the demand for professional, seminary-trained clergy in place of charismatic lay ministry. As frontier churches previously viewed as home mission fields increased in numbers and wealth, congregations could afford to support a married man as minister. Some considered the presence of a female pastor a tacit acknowledgment of a church’s poverty.

Educational attainment and credentials often replaced spiritual gifts as the essential leadership qualifications. The establishment of interdenominational Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924—the nation’s first strictly fundamentalist seminary—symbolized this shift. Lewis Sperry Chafer, undoubtedly influenced by Charles Scofield’s view on women while teaching at Philadelphia College of the Bible, was the founder of Dallas. Emerging from the modernist-fundamentalist debates of the 1920s, it admitted only born-again male college graduates endowed with ministry gifts. Chafer clearly distinguished his school from Bible institutes, claiming that “those Bible courses which have been designed for laymen and Christian workers generally are not adequate as a foundational Bible training for the preacher or teacher.”

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Bible institutes furnished a large slice of local church leadership and influenced theology accordingly. Later, Dallas and similar schools began training the men who went on to administer and teach at Bible institutes When evangelical churches were clamoring for seminary-trained pastors, Dallas sent out only men to fill those posts. Other seminaries trained women but discouraged them from preaching and pastoral roles.

By the mid-twentieth century, churches increasingly directed women gifted to minister away from pulpit and pastoral duties toward safer spheres of service. Since World War I, the rapidly rising field of religious or Christian education has drawn trained women into its fold. A female Bible institute graduate who in 1910 might have pastored a small church or traveled as an itinerant revivalist would by 1940 more likely serve as a director of religious education.

Professionalization affected women’s service on the mission field as well. Foreign missions continued as an acceptable ministry option for women throughout the twentieth century. But the shift to overseas specialties in medicine, education, agriculture and construction influenced perceptions of appropriate roles for women. Before specialization, churches sent missionaries primarily as preachers, church planters and Bible teachers, with women filling those positions along with men. As specialization increased, women more often than not filled supportive roles as men handled preaching and pastoring. And female missionaries unused to preaching overseas felt less comfortable in American pulpits on furlough.

In summary, women found declining opportunities for leadership in evangelical churches, schools and agencies as institutionalization squelched earlier gift-based forms of ministry. In worship as well as in education, routinization set in. In a shift toward more regulated and formalized church services, praying and speaking were no longer left to chance. Structured rather than spontaneous worship tended to exclude women from public participation.

Fundamentalist reaction to social change. Opposition to women’s public ministry was part of a post-World War I reaction to vocal, extreme feminism and a perceived decline in womanhood. Dress, appearance and habits constituted the most conspicuous signs of American women’s growing independence. Shorter skirts, bobbed hair, cosmetics, public smoking and drinking—these externals marked the “liberated” woman. More substantially, the expansion of women into the workforce produced growing economic independence.

The onset of the Depression undoubtedly accelerated the return of fundamentalists and evangelicals to traditional values. Evangelicals feared that cultural trends toward women’s freedom in dress, habits, morals and occupations might destroy the family. As churches identified women preachers and pastors with the secular women’s movement, opposition rose. Hoping to save the American home, many evangelicals narrowed their view of appropriate women’s roles. The attack by John R. Rice, a separatist fundamentalist, against Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers illustrates how these issues connected in this era.

The backlash in conservative Protestant circles against changing social mores can be traced in Moody Monthly magazines of the 1930s. Numerous articles appeared on the “new woman,” exposing the ill effects of modern morality. The disturbing shifts in the roles and behavior of women in American society frightened conservative Christians. Convinced that the survival of the traditional family and of the entire social order was at stake, many evangelicals tightened their approach to women in church ministry. Might not women’s leadership there give encouragement to other destructive tendencies?

MBI and other evangelical institutions began to advocate a more limited role expectation for women in an effort to maintain traditional family and moral values. In the process, evangelicals took away ministry opportunities from women.

Fundamentalist exegesis. In reaction to perceived threats to the family and society, many fundamentalist institutions revised their earlier perspectives on biblical teaching on women. Fundamentalists no longer interpreted the passages in 1 Timothy 2 or 1 Corinthians 14 as occasional advice for specific problems; instead these passages were regarded as giving transcultural principles for all times and places.

In the early twentieth century, fundamentalists had tightened the lines around the concept of inerrancy; it became one of the Fundamentals and was understood to require a literalistic interpretation of Scripture. Opposition to women ministers may have been formalized as a byproduct. Just as the South had employed extremely authoritative and literalistic views of Scripture to justify slavery, the North adopted similar attitudes toward women after the modernist battles. As this type of literalism became entrenched, fundamentalists interpreted passages about women more rigidly.

Opportunities for women to preach and pastor declined as evangelical churches identified such service as contrary to Scripture. Support of women’s public ministry came to be seen as a denial of biblical inerrancy. Straton’s 1926 pamphlet was one of the last publications from the fundamentalist camp arguing for women’s right to preach. Few evangelical men followed in the steps of Moody, Gordon, Simpson, Franson, Riley and Straton to publicly defend women preachers. When the publications containing feminist exegesis from the evangelical perspective went out of print, little appeared to replace them. Unable or unwilling to view women’s public ministry as consistent with Scripture, evangelical churches increasingly labeled their pulpits “For Men Only.”

This shift in biblical exegesis produced theological reformulation. For example, the same premillennialism used by Gordon and Franson to advocate women preachers was utilized by later writers to restrict women. Certain dispensationalists began to interpret women’s leadership as an evil sign of the end times, identifying such women with the whore of Babylon.

Turn-of-the-century evangelicals committed to the imminent, premillennial return of Christ had put their intense convictions into action. The urgent need to mobilize workers to spread the gospel worldwide left no time for one sex to remain silent. Later premillennialists apparently retained intellectual assent to Christ’s soon return but relaxed considerably on the urgency of evangelizing the world. They proved more concerned with opposing evolution than promoting evangelism, and thus evangelical recruitment of female preachers subsided.

Although knowledge of the past does not and should not dictate the future, it helps illumine how recent attitudes toward women developed. For several decades at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, evangelical churches did not leave the public gifts of women in the church buried. We, in turn, dare not bury the accounts of those courageous, committed pioneer women.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Christians put away sin: Genesis 35

 In the aftermath of the rash action of Jacob's sons against the men of Shechem (Genesis 34) God tells Jacob to move to Bethel. Jacob follows God's command and he tells his family to renew their commitments to God and back up their commitments with real actions. He said,

Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes. (Genesis 35:2)

The point is that Jacob' family should follow the future First Commandment: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3-6).

False gods are not the only thing God's people should put away; but it starts there (see Colossians 3:5). The actions Jacob tells his family to do have parallels in Christianity. When believers come to Christ, they put away their former sinful ways of life.

Ephesians 4:22-32

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Rules for the New Life So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Colossians 3:8

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.

Jacob said, "purify yourselves." The Christian cleansing is baptism (Acts 22:16). It is faith expressed in obedience and it is God's condition for salvation (Acts 16:30-31;  1Peter 3:21). Plus, it is not something the believer actually does but the believer submits to it and somebody else does it.

Jacob also tells his family to change their clothes. Christians perform a similar change of clothes.

Ephesians 4:24 (highlighted above)

Ephesians 6:13-17 (Take up the whole armor of God)

1 Peter 5:5

In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

I am especially intrigued that Jacob's people also gave up the rings that were in their ears. What is the deal with ear rings (c.f., Exodus 33:4-6). Maybe removing them expresses grief. Terence Fretheim notes that ear rings are potential resources for making idols* (Exodus 32:2-4; Judges 8:24-27). I think Fretheim is on the right track. And like Jacob's people, Christians should not only put away their sin but we should do all we can to also put away sin triggers. I can give effort to avoid situations that motivate sin. I can also find an accountability partner who is invited to frequently ask me if I have engaged in the sin to which I am personally vulnerable.

Putting away the old self is a choice each believer makes and does and it is an motivated by her/his faith.

* Terence Fretheim, "Genesis," NIB, Abingdon, OliveTree e-resource.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Deborah, a Public Minister for Yahweh

 I am fascinated at the efforts some people will exert to show that the judge Deborah exercised no leadership work over any men.

In a recent article, the writer argued

It can be seen that Deborah's ministry was private, not public.  This is consistent with the teaching of the Old  and New Testament. Although the nature of the ministry of man and woman is different, their value and importance is the same.*

 This statement is the classic complementarian talking point. Men's and women's roles are equally valuable, just different. When the details are examined, women's ministry opportunities are no where near as valuable as those available to men. People who make those points seem to think they are making them from the Bible; but they are not. They are making them up out of whole cloth. I will set that track aside for now since the point of this article is to show that Deborah's ministry as judge was fully public and carried the full authority of a prophet of Yahweh.

Here are some of the usual points to show that Deborah performed her duties as judge in a non-public way.

  1. She did her judging under a palm tree.
  2. She was not an assassin like Ehud nor a warrior like Othniel.
  3. She sent messengers to men rather than addressing them directly (Judges 4:6).
  4. Her word was not her own but the word of the LORD (Judges 4:6, 14).

 On the motif of (1) sitting under a palm tree to judge, I don't see how that method makes for a private ministry. In later times, people would go to the elders in the gate of a city and ask for judgment. The kings of Israel assumed the old judge roles in their administrations and people would go to the palace for justice. If people went to Deborah for judgment and her decision was final, her word was respected by the people, both men and women.

On (2) the fact that Deborah was not personally violent, again, I don't get it. Do you have to go out and kill someone to be a leader? Deborah clearly thought war was men's work (Judges 4:6-7). Barak wanted Deborah with him on the battlefield. She warned him that the greatest credit for victory will go to a woman (Judges 4:9, the woman turned out to be Jael). (Incidentally, any glory enjoyed by any of the actors in this story was given by God, Judges 5:24-31).

 On (3) Deborah's use of messengers showing that she did not let her ministry slip into men's work, I propose we consider Elisha who sent a messenger to Naaman (2 Kings 5:10-11). I suppose what Elisha did for Naaman was women's work. Naaman seemed to think so.

On (4) her word being not her own but the LORD's, that is the role of any prophet. They are not
to speak any "word of Yahweh" presumtively.

All four of these points are non-arguments.

Furthermore, I reject the assumption that Christian leadership is something that is done overtly publically and non-up-front leadership is women's work. Great prophets of the Old Testament (including Deborah) did both public and private ministry.

Complementarians have a lot of trouble with Deborah and they tend to write a lot to shrink her work to their picture of women's work.

They THINK their views of women's roles come from the Bible; but that's not really where they get it. They get it from somewhere else and then go to the Bible to support their pictures. Many articles promoting Deborah as a non-public minister include the usual scriptures to show that she could not possible have been a leader over men (1 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 14:33-35), or they just say something like, "The New Testament says so." Many scholars have shown in writing that these verses do not function to keep women out of public ministry. They have argued from a high view of scripture. Look them up.

Deborah's ministry as judge was public. The Israelite judges were the forerunners of the eventual kingship of Israel. Deborah was performing a ministry that was eventually absorbed into the Israelite kingship.

It is quite embarassing that this article needs to be written. I am astonished that people can read the account of Deborah and conclude that she did not perform any of the ministries reserved for men. (I am only a little less astonished that people can study the New Testament and conclude that there is ministry reserved for men)!

 *   Daniel Yuen, MeWe post, 20210430.