Rawlings School of Divinity


Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (MA)


Roy Lucas


Egalitarian, Complementarian, Theology, Women, Culture, History, Roman, Jewish, Hellenistic, New Testament, Leadership, Gospels, Epistles, Narrative


Christianity | Religion


The debate about women having authority over men or serving in leadership roles within the church is a controversial topic that has existed for some time. There are different interpretations of the complementarian and egalitarian debate surrounding specific areas in scripture. The Bible is a source of wisdom and truth that is used to direct the lives of Christians and the church. However, both sides point to the same text as the justification for their beliefs. The complementarian and egalitarian debate is far-reaching, but I plan to look at one subject within the larger debate. The scope of my thesis will be to examine the Pauline complementarian literature considering the various narratives of women within the New Testament. The scope of my research will not be exhaustive but will use select examples from New Testament narratives to compare against the Pauline literature which excludes women from many activities. There is an apparent disconnect between some of Paul’s commands and the actions of women in the New Testament, so my focus will be on how to reconcile these and examine them in a systematic posture. There is a historical trend for a complementarian interpretation of Pauline literature, but with modern research tools, historical exploration, and critical frameworks, there is much to be added concerning this portion of the debate. The goal of the thesis is to reconcile narratives of female leadership within the New Testament compared to the limitations placed on women within Pauline literature. The Bible is thousands of years old and to properly honor the text, readers need to be educated in the cultural and historical nuances of the time of authorship. Without the proper context, readers are going into scripture blind and can make poor interpretations of the text. The main hermetical tool for this thesis will be to focus on a systematic and historical reading of the literature. This is not a new way of reading scripture, but it is imperative to the identification of female leadership and how it correlates to the Pauline literature present in the New Testament. I address this as a problem that will be analyzed within my thesis because it is the driving factor of my position. I am examining the impact of narratives within the whole of the New Testament and placing them side-by-side with Pauline literature. Throughout my research, I have seen complementarians focus solely on the passages within Pauline literature to support their claim. I have also seen egalitarians solely use narratives to support their claim. Therefore, I am trying to reconcile the two through this thesis which requires a historical and systematic approach to reading these areas of scripture. Overall, the problem I am tackling is as follows. There is a disparity between the writings of Paul and the narratives of the New Testament concerning the role of women within the church which require a historical and systematic study to reconcile their apparent differences and provide a unified message of female leadership within New Testament texts.

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