"None of the disciples or apostles were women--a bit unfair, ain't it?!"

[Note: This is a simple summary of the detailed data in the syllabus. Refer there for sources/discussion. Updated: 01/02/97]
This, of course, is a New Testament question, and one that is surprisingly easy to answer.

As we saw in the syllabus, there is not ONE title of early Christian leadership (i.e. apostle, elder, bishop, presbyter, deacon, "fellow-worker", "hard worker", patron) that is NOT ascribed to a female before the 4th century A.D.

This is in addition to the data (both NT and archeological) that women 'ran' house-churches in the major cities of Christian expansion.

Now, it IS true that none of the Twelve were women (although there were some very important and highly-praised women disciples that traveled with the group). But this is commonly understood to be a deliberate re-enactment of the Twelve Sons of Israel (a typology kinda thing), and not a general prescription for leadership. (Indeed, one of the Twelve was the traitor!)

We saw in the detail that women did travel with Jesus--even into the hostile wilderness, did sit rabbinic-style 'at the feet of Jesus' for instruction, did perform patronage services, did bear witness, did evangelism, and were used by Matthew as examples of what TRUE discipleship was meant to look like!

Given their ample and aggressive service in the early church, the fact that they were not part of an OT fulfillment motif around the twelve sons of Israel probably is NOT that significant...

[But, what IS significant, is that they WERE singled out in the Joel prophecy cited by Peter in Acts 2--they were to be co-prophets and co-teachers with men in the New Covenant Kingdom!]



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