Queensland SCM May 2013 Newsletter

1.    A Challenge for Theology from a Gospel Incident

Here's an invitation to explore the dynamics in the foreground (and background) of the context surrounding Jesus' actions and words as depicted in the gospels. The great majority of gospel scholars consider that Matthew not only copied Mark's account but often altered it. Also, feminist gospel scholars have alerted us to the interesting dynamics contained in the interesting accounts of Jesus encounters with women in the gospels. Here's an invitation to see what your thoughts are in response to the questions below.

JESUS' ENCOUNTER WITH A PAGAN WOMAN Mark 7:24-30

24. From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25. but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28. But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29. Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30. So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Matthew 15:21-28

                                                                                                                               

21. Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23. But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24. He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25. But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26. He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27. She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28. Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

  1. What ethnic, social and religious dynamics are present in these 2 accounts?
  2. Should the woman be regarded as a. feisty b. impudent c. brave d. brazen   e. a nagger (Matt. 15:23)  f. ungodly (Canaanite) g. persuasive  h. desperate. 
  3. Is it valid to conclude that she changes Jesus' thinking? Why? If it is valid, did Jesus need to change his attitude to Gentiles and/or (ii) to women? 
  4. A study of the redaction (editing) that Matthew does of Mark 7:24-30 is also of interest. Note the variations in dark print across the two accounts. Most gospel scholars believe Matthew edited Mark's account. Why are the changes made?

And now for something semi-serious.

A good-hearted SCM'er from Perth, Kate Watts, passed on to me the following 10 points WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED. It comes from the progressive evangelical website linked to the fine Christian journal called SOJOURNERS. Mindful of the arguments put up to prohibit women's ordination, these are a mirror image, as well as an echo, of the opposing arguments. (Some of the entries have a particular American flavour.)

Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained For Ministry

  1. A man’s place is in the army.
  2. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
  3. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and chasing cattle. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.
  4. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
  5. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and other sporting venues clearly demonstrates this.
  6. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshippers.
  7. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
  8. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
  9. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
  10. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.

Thanks to our respondents, we’ve tracked down the original source. This list is the work of Dr. David M. Scholer, a former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.

This SCM Newsletter has been compiled and sent out by Rev Dr Ray Barraclough, Secretary of the Qld SCM Area Council.