WARNING: this is a bunch of questions, a few thoughts, not so many answers. Just so you know.
So, what do you think of girls who write commentaries?
A friend over on the Greekblog mentioned the commentary by Karen Jobes on 1 Peter, of which I've seen a number of positive reviews.
So, say you read it. Say you pastor Karen Jobes' church, and you teach a Sunday School class on 1 Peter. There she sits, authorette of a complex, in-depth commentary on 1 Peter. How does that work? If someone asks you a question you can't answer, do you ask her about it? Do people start looking to her for answers when the questions are asked?
On her profile page for Wheaton, where she is a professor, Jobes herself says:
Watch out if someone asks you to teach adult Sunday School! I was firmly established in a career in computer science when I realized that I was enjoying preparing for and teaching my adult Sunday School class in Bible more than I was enjoying my job. The decision to leave my career in computer science for seminary and eventually for a doctoral program was not quickly or easily made, but was inevitable once the Lord developed in me a passion for teaching the Word of God to the next generation. I realized that if I did not heed his calling, I would reach old age with the regret of a misspent life.
What does that mean? I don't know. It's very reminiscent of the rationale I heard a female Princeton grad "pastor" give in a seminar at BIOLA: the Holy Spirit gives (pastoral) gifts to women, it would be disobedient not to exercise them.
So, women writing commentaries, theologies -- theological/exegetical books on female subordination... is that Biblically OK? Is there any limit?
What about a man leading a Sunday School class, using a textbook written by a woman?
The topic was just starting to simmer when I was at Talbot. They'd recently allowed women to enter the M.Div. program. This stands for Master of Divinity; it is viewed as more of a professional than an academic degree. At the time, it was seen as a pastoral degree.
At the time, the "positive" argument was that women shouldn't be denied the best in education. Maybe... maybe they wanted to be really good Sunday School teachers! Or leaders of women's groups in church! Or just really smart pastors' wives! Yeah, that's the ticket.
Couldn't possibly be that they simply wanted more students enrolled, and if the women turned around and leveraged these degrees to gain pastorates, oh well!
I remember the thought of a fellow-prof at the time. He said, off the record, "That's a little like handing someone a loaded gun, and saying, 'Now, you mustn't ever shoot this!'"
No doubt that was the motivation of some of the ladies. I had one Hebrew student named Sharon. She was simply a delight. She loved the Lord, loved the Word, loved being a woman — as God defined being a woman.
She headed up a woman's ministry in her large, Baptist church, and had great ideas encouraging women to be godly women, wives, mothers. She was also a great Hebrew student. Did a dandy paper on — what else? — Proverbs 31:10-31.
But I'm certain it wasn't the motivation of all of the ladies. Even then, there were feminist speakers on campus. A professorette spoke in chapel (!), gave a very nuanced, codespeak talk about women's ministries. I wrote an open letter of response that caused some flak.
The casuist, chip-on-the-shoulder way of dealing with this culturally-unpopular truth is to ask hard questions like some of mine, and then say, "See? Women can be pastors."
Sure they can. Just not God-honoring, Biblical, Christian pastors (1 Timothy 2:9-15).
Seems wiser to me to get the big things right, the wrestle with the smaller. Of course women cannot be Christian pastors; most men can't, either.
But the questions that start this essay? Not so easy, to me.