Category: 2018

Following God’s Call into the Theological Academy

by Anna Moseley Gissing

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Anna Moseley Gissing. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

I was fresh out of college and serving as a youth director at a local church. Because I was new to the area, a friend’s parents, stalwarts in my new city, invited me for dinner. Our conversation turned toward churches, theology, and polity quickly enough, and though it was almost twenty years ago now, I still remember it vividly.

In the midst of a conversation about women in ministry, in church leadership, and what Paul really meant, my friend’s father, an elder in his own church, remarked that he thought God had called men to make hard decisions about leadership because women were too emotional.

This comment sparked in me a desire to know more. To study. To learn how and why people who loved God and loved Scripture would come to this insulting conclusion.

When I started divinity school a couple of years later, I was on my way to a PhD, eager to teach theology and convinced of my call. I fell in love with a fellow student talking theology, and we married a week after I graduated. And my plan faltered. I doubted my call.

It didn’t even cross my mind that my new husband could or should follow me to a doctoral program. It wasn’t that he refused. We didn’t consider it. We decided that we’d go where he was called to a ministry position and then I’d apply. But I’ve never applied.

I won’t go into all of the many twists and turns of this story. I know now that other women have different journeys, and some of their stories include husbands and children following them to grad school or to academic jobs.

And just a few years ago, I too had that experience. My husband and kids moved across the country for me to take a position as a book editor. Life has come full circle.

Over the years, I’ve grown more passionate about lifting up women’s voices—why? For one thing, it’s a matter of justice. For too long women have not been speaking, teaching, and writing as much as men have, especially in the theological disciplines. Those women who have ministered, written, and interpreted Scripture have not had the same influence as their male contemporaries. And God has given both men and women voices, intellect, and passion.

Second, women often see things that have been missed. I’m not arguing that all women are the same and therefore share one viewpoint. But women do tend to notice different things since their life experiences and social locations influence their readings, just like men’s do.

Because women are still a minority in the theological disciplines, their work can sometimes become marginalized and seen as “niche,” “too narrow.” But women’s ideas and research interests are not niche by default. And the more women writing, teaching, and researching in these fields, the more mainstream their ideas will be perceived to be. Sometimes it’s not a function of the ideas themselves but the perception that work by men is unbiased and ungendered while women’s work is not.

It’s true that women often enter the theological disciplines spurred on by research interests connected to their life experience. I was motivated initially by my friend’s father’s comment to study and learn more. I went back to grad school a decade later with different research questions, this time related to kinship language. I wanted to know how Jesus’ redefinition of family in Matthew 10/Mark 3 would sound for first-century listeners and what it might mean for theological reflection on family life. But does that mean that my question is too narrow because it stems from my own concerns about women’s roles in family life, in the biological family as well as in the family of God? I don’t think so.

Third, God is calling women to study, teach, and contribute to the theological disciplines, and it’s important to heed that call, despite the risks and challenges.

How can we help women heed God’s call to the theological academy? It depends on where we sit. As an editor, it’s a priority for me to publish women’s voices—to develop relationships with women scholars, to encourage them as they write, to share their work with the world. If you are a professor, make sure to call out the gifts you see in your women students. Perhaps they too have been doubting their calling and you may be the way that God speaks to them in their discernment. If you are a husband or significant other, you could volunteer to move so that your loved one can pursue this call.

No matter where we find ourselves, we can encourage women by sharing stories of others who have gone before or who are on the path to the theological academy. How have others inspired us? What has worked? What advice would we give our younger selves? Let’s share our stories far and wide.

We must also share our power. What power do you have in your academic institution, in your church, in your life? How can you share your power with another woman? Recommend a woman–pass along her name for a writing project, to an editor, for a lecture invitation. Consider asking her to coauthor with you. Invite her to present her work.

Sharing stories, sharing power, and giving voice to the research of women will help them follow God’s call to lead in the theological academy. May it be so.

Anna Moseley Gissing is associate editor at IVP Academic where she acquires and develops projects particularly in biblical studies and biblical theology. She is also the project editor for the revision of the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Previously she served as associate director of Women in the Academy and Professions and editor of The WellShe has more than a decade of ministry experience serving in local churches and on university campuses and is an elder in the Presbyterian church. Her theological degrees are from Beeson Divinity School (Samford University) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She’s married to Jeff, a Presbyterian pastor and book marketer, and is parenting two elementary-aged kids. She (rarely) tweets at @amgissing.

The Case for Open Borders in Theological Study

by Carolyn Custis James

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Carolyn Custis James. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

Recently a female seminarian posted the following lament on Twitter:

You’d think after all these years in seminary I’d be used to men keeping their distance, not engaging with me, etc. because I’m a woman. The truth is, I’m not. It still sucks. It still feels like rejection. And it still hurts.

Thankfully, not all men react this way. I was in the first class of female students (five of us) admitted to the same seminary she attends and, although I’ve experienced plenty of resistance since graduating, that wasn’t my experience as a seminary student.

Our arrival was uneventful. No fanfare, drumroll, or historic speeches. We just walked into the classroom and went to work. I don’t recall anyone discussing with us why the seminary was opening its doors to women or the five of us discussing it among ourselves.

To be honest, we were simply grateful to be there and assumed the seminary had done us a favor by letting women into this previously male-only bastion. Over time, however, I’ve come to realize something monumental had happened. This was more than another breeched barrier for women. Our female contributions were needed for theological reflection and practice to fulfill the mandate for which we were created.

In the field of higher education, scholars Jan Meyer and Ray Land have coined the phrase “threshold knowledge.” Threshold knowledge refers to “core concepts that once understood, transform perception of a given subject.”[1]

Genesis 1 and 2 contain vital threshold knowledge, for this is where God is vision casting for his world and for humanity. God’s creative activity climaxes with the creation of humanity and God’s wholly unexpected decision to create human beings—male and female—as the imago dei. The Creator could not have conferred on us a nobler identity and calling than for us to be reflections of himself, to speak and act for him. Nor could he have placed before us a more demanding challenge.

As the imago dei, humanity’s first and most urgent task is to know the God who created us to become like him. This foundational enterprise stands at the center of every human life and requires significant effort from each of us—male and female. Every other human endeavor falls within and is shaped by what we learn about our Creator and how we work to represent him more faithfully and engage his purposes in the world.

It must be said, although some remain uncertain about this, the creation narrative doesn’t contain the slightest hint that responsibility for the study of God falls only or primarily on the shoulders of men. Everything God commissions at creation falls fully on the shoulders of his daughters too. The Creator prefaces the creation of the female with an unqualified statement that has bearing in every arena of human life: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

When female scholars engage in biblical and theological studies along with men, their male colleagues will be the first to benefit. If they are willing to listen and collaborate, men will discover a richer, deeper, more robust theological discussion has just become possible. Walter Brueggemann confirmed this when he wrote in the preface of his remarkable work, The Prophetic Imagination,

I am growingly aware that this book is different because of the emerging feminine consciousness as it impacts our best theological thinking. That impacting is concerned not with abrasive crusading but with a different nuancing of all our perceptions. . . . In many ways these sisters have permitted me to see what I otherwise might have missed. For that I am grateful—and amazed.[2]

The scholarly study of God and Scripture is not primarily for personal fulfillment, although that surely happens. Nor are such pursuits ends in themselves. They serve the church and indeed, all humanity. The whole church benefits when a diversity of scholarly minds devote their lives to Biblical Studies, Theology and Philosophical Theology and do this vital work together.

A scientist once noted, “If earth were an apple, the exploration we have done beneath the earth’s surface would not yet have broken the skin.” If that’s how far we’ve gotten in exploring this finite planet, how much more remains for us to discover about our infinite God?

With such a daunting task before us, can it be any less true today than it was in the beginning that it is not good for the man to be alone?

Carolyn Custis James (B.A. Sociology, M.A. Biblical Studies) is an activist, blogger, and award-winning author. Her books include Finding God in the Margins, Malestrom, Half the Church, and The Gospel of Ruth.She was founder and President of the Synergy Women’s Network, is a consulting editor for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament, and an adjunct professor at Missio Theological Seminary. She’s a member of Evangelicals for Justice and blogs at, Huffington Post/Religion, and as a Leading Voice at Missio Alliance. Her work focuses on the intersection between Christianity and twenty-first century cultural issues facing women and men globally and has earned her recognition by Christianity Today as one of “50 Evangelical Women to Watch.”

[1] Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land, “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge—Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising,” in Improving Student Learning—Theory and Practice Ten Years On, ed. C. Rust (Oxford: Oxford Center for Staff and Learning Development, 2003), 412–24.

[2] Walter Brueggemann,  The Prophetic Imagination, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), xxiv.

You Can Be What You Can Read

by Katya Covrett

Coming to work for an academic publisher fresh out of seminary, I often found myself starstruck. Not even a year earlier, I was nose-deep in the latest and greatest books in biblical-theological studies; now here I was on a first-name basis with many of the academics whose books had formed me theologically. As is likely the case for many (most?) in my generation of divinity students, the vast majority of the authors we read, much like professors who assigned them, were white men—brilliant scholars and encouraging teachers to be sure—but men nonetheless.

Sixteen years hence, the stardom has long worn off to give way to questions. How would my path have been different had there been female scholarly role models on it, whether in the classroom or on the pages of the many academic tomes I devoured? How many more women in my class would have chosen a path of teaching and writing in the fields of theology, biblical studies, or philosophical theology if we had been taught by female scholars? I wonder.

In November 2017, Dr. Ellen Stofan, director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and former chief scientist at NASA, wrote an article about women in STEM disciplines (that is, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In what she cites as “appalling” numbers, women make up less than 25 percent of the STEM workforce in the US. “We know some of the reasons women and girls participate in STEM fields at lower rates,” she writes, “lack of encouragement, active discouragement, lack of role models, negative peer pressure and harassment. … ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ When asked to draw a scientist, most students draw a white man in a lab coat. The great majority of portrayals of scientists and engineers in movies and television shows has been men.”[1]

Divinity fields are not faring a whole lot better than the sciences. NAPS (the North American Patristics Society) and SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) match STEM at 25 and 24 percent female members respectively. IBR’s (Institute for Biblical Research) 16 percent may look like a failure but must be nuanced by the society’s active support and encouragement of its existing and new female members. Half of IBR board normally consists of women and its newly elected president is New Testament scholar Lynn Cohick. In fact, knowing the makeup of the board, I was surprised by the lower actual percentage of IBR female scholars.The consistent presence of women in IBR leadership certainly gives off a different vibe than the numbers alone might communicate and IBR’s female constituency is in fact growing. And then there is ETS (the Evangelical Theological Society) with a dismal 6 percent. That speaks for itself. But too many women never even reach the level of scholarly society membership: according to research done in some UK universities, the female dropout rate between undergraduate and doctoral programs in theology and religious studies is a staggering 50 percent.

“Well, look who’s talking,” you might say if you knew me. I never intended to go into publishing; I stumbled into it on the way to an abandoned idea of a PhD in biblical studies. In retrospect, I would not change that. I am enjoying a fruitful publishing career, which will continue through and beyond my recently started doctoral work. In fact, my work in academic publishing has afforded me an opportunity to speak on behalf of and develop female academics across a broad range of divinity disciplines.

Publishers are routinely chastised for lack of women in our publications and catalogs. As a female academic editor, I am acutely aware of the imbalance between male and female authors in publishers’ catalogs in general and the Zondervan Academic catalog in particular. Having worked hard to address this problem for over a decade, I can say from personal experience that the lack of women in publishers’ catalogs is often not for lack of trying. But with as few women as enter the academy, publishers typically start with a small pool of prospective authors to begin with, and once you layer on limitations of discipline, expertise, specialization, approach, the book idea itself, or any theological parameters, you are left with a handful—at best. And the few (or any) women left are already booked up for years to come or have other priorities, commitments, or preferences. Many simply say no. The representation of women in our academy—or lack thereof—is indeed appalling. We are in a better position now than even a decade ago but not nearly where we should be. If women are to be better represented in publishers’ catalogs, it has to be a publishing vision upfront and a constant commitment in the publisher’s acquisitions strategy. Speaking for Zondervan Academic, we are constantly and intentionally seeking out qualified, capable, and willing female scholars to write and contribute.

Publishers play a key role in shaping the future of the academy, if even by the choices we make in what we publish. One often-overlooked but decidedly strategic way to shape the future of the academy is in publishing textbooks that become formative for future generations of academics. Think about it. If my own experience is any indication, students tend to adore their teachers, whether in classrooms or in books. How will this new generation of divinity students, both women and men (maybe especially men), ever learn to learn theology from women if all of their core textbooks are written by men? Face it, even today many divinity students may never have an opportunity to be taught by a female professor in person. But every class has textbooks. Strategic opportunity? I’ll say.

Strategy or not, publishers are constrained by the shape of the academy. Indeed, there are more women teaching and writing in divinity disciplines now than when I was in seminary twenty years ago, offering female academic role models and mentors my generation did not have. But if the aforementioned percentages say anything, it is that we have a lot of work to do. We need more women studying, teaching, writing in the fields of theology, biblical studies, and philosophical theology if we want our daughters to imagine what they can be and our sons to learn learning from women.


Katya Covrett is Executive Editor at Zondervan Academic, responsible for acquiring works in various areas of biblical-theological studies. Originally from Russia, where she served as a translator at Far East Russia Bible College, she came to the US to study the Bible and theology, stumbled into publishing, and has been part of the Zondervan editorial team now for over sixteen years. She has extensive experience acquiring and editing academic books and actively seeks to support female scholars entering and persisting in the academic publishing world. Katya also serves as an advisory board member of Logia, an initiative of the Logos Institute at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, which seeks to support women in divinity education. She has a BA in English Linguistics from Khabarovsk State Pedagogical University and an MTS in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. She is currently working on a PhD in the New Testament at the University of Aberdeen, supervised through Trinity College Bristol.


A Theology that Honors the Catholicity of the Church – The Need for Women (and POC) Theologians

by Juliany González Nieves

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Juliany González Nieves. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

She studies, and disputes, and teaches,
and thus she serves her Faith;
for how could God, who gave her reason,
want her ignorant?”

-Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Villancico[1]                 

From Hagar naming God to Mary’s Magnificat; from Martha’s Christological confession in John 11:27 to the Syrophoenician woman who argued with Jesus; from Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles, to Priscilla, teacher of preachers; from Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to all the enslaved African and Indigenous women who saw God the Liberator in spite of the theological orthodoxy proclaimed during the Conquista and colonial era; from me sitting in my Barth seminary class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to my abuela taking care of her sick neighbors in our barrio in Puerto Rico. Throughout the centuries and across the globe, women have been doing theology, formally and informally, reflecting about God and how the Godself relates to the created order in everyday life –what Cuban theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz called lo cotidiano. And although women’s contributions to the field of theology and church life are not always acknowledged and valued, there are at least three main reasons why we need more women studying, teaching, and doing theology, biblical studies, and philosophical theology.

First, without women’s (and POC’s) contributions to theology, we cannot articulate a theology that honors the catholicity of the church. 

“And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” It has always fascinated me how the Nicene Creed is constantly confessed at churches and theological institutions where the only voices that are continually heard are those of men, especially those from the Minority World. However, to truly confess the catholicity of the church requires us to move towards a theologizing that brings in the voices of women, minorities, and Majority World Christians into the conversation, not as an add-on, but as equal dialogue partners and members of the body of Christ. For it is contradictory to confess the universal nature of the church while holding tight to the structures that keep the majority of the global church outside of the rooms, classrooms, and spaces where formal theology is done. Without the contributions of women and POC to the fields of theology, biblical studies, and philosophical theology, we cannot articulate a theology that honors the catholicity of the church.

Second, theology should be done by the church and for the church and its mission. Women make up the majority of the global church.

I believe that theology is missional and should be done by the church and for the church. Interestingly, although in many countries across the globe women make up the majority of the faithful,[2] the theology that has historically shaped our communities has been male- and Minority World-centered. And although I am against projects that seek to discard all the theological contributions that men in the Minority World have made to this date, I do believe we need to take another look at what we have inherited. For how are we hoping to help equip the church for its mission when our theologizing doesn’t even seriously consider the concerns and questions of the majority of the church? Our theology needs to ask and seek answers to those questions which emerge from our ethnic and gender identities, and socio-economic and political realities as women who are members of communities and caregivers of the earth. Therefore, in order to move towards a more robust articulation and embodiment of the faith, women have to continue taking up space and raising their voices in seminaries and local churches.

Third, it is a calling.

Lastly, it is crucial we understand that the main reason why it is essential for women to study, teach, and contribute to the fields of theology, biblical studies, and philosophical theology is that the God of the church has always been calling them to do so. For this reason, it is vital that the church and theological institutions establish practical ways to cultivate the theological mind of women and encourage them to pursue God’s call.

Philip Jenkins writes, “If you want to think of the average Christian in the world today, then think of, perhaps, a woman living in a village in Nigeria or in a favela [in Brazil]…”[3] The church is not only getting browner but it is also mainly female. It is due time for our theologizing to reflect these realities. It is time that we honor the catholicity of the church.

Juliany González Nieves is an evangélica Puerto Rican student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Before beginning her Master in Divinity program, she earned a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Her areas of interest include systematic theology; Majority World Christian theologies, especially Latin American liberation theologies; feminist theologies; and social justice. She describes her work as intersectional, always taking into account her liminal identity as a caribeñatrigueña, Puerto Rican woman living between the island and the U.S. mainland. She is currently doing an academic internship at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You can follow her on social media and read her blog De vuelta a lo básico.

[1] Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Villancico, or Carol, in celebration of St. Catherine of Alexandria (1692), quoted by Theresa A. Yugar, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Feminist Reconstruction of Biography and Text (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014), vi.

[2] “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World,” Pew Research Center, accessed September 11, 2018,

[3] Philip Jenkins, “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity,” in Religious Educator 8, no. 3 (2007): 113-125.

Where are the Women?

by Christa McKirland

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Logia Director Christa McKirland. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

The present Logia Blog series has focused on women’s stories from the disciplines of Biblical Studies, Theology, Science & Religion, and Philosophy. The narratives have taken many forms, but the common thread throughout these stories has been: Being a woman explicitly affected each person’s decision to pursue postgraduate studies. To conclude this series, I will share some of my own story and how this has influenced my research interests and where I am today. I will also introduce the new series that will begin this September and carry through until August of 2019.

A few years ago, my mom found a Bible devotional journal of mine from when I was 9. Each page has a short passage of scripture and questions for engagement. I flipped through the pages of my pencil-scribbled responses until a note in the margins caught my eye. Given my predilection for order and rule-following (even as a 9-year-old), to see something scrawled outside the boundaries of the prescribed lines gave my 30-something-self pause. The story was about Jesus miraculously feeding 5,000 men, and right next to the description of this audience, my little hand had queried: “Where are the women and children?”

Even as a small child, I knew something was missing from this story. As my young, imaginative mind likely thought of being on that hillside, I wondered why I wouldn’t have been included in this headcount. Why were the women and children invisible?

Later, I would wonder why women never preached, were never allowed up front in the service, could not serve communion, baptize people, or even pass offering plates. As I wondered about all these things, my developing mind arrived at a singular, though misguided, conclusion: God must want women to be invisible. I didn’t know why—I just knew this is what the Bible said.

The problem was, I knew I was a leader, a teacher, and a preacher. I knew that these were gifts from God to be used for God and that curtailing them was wrong, yet somehow, so was utilizing them.[1] This tension only grew more pronounced as I pursued a double-major in Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia. Philosophy helped me think critically about the illogic of women’s subordination while my Women’s Studies exposure helped me think of patriarchal influences and the role of power in these conversations. Simultaneously, I was serving at a local church as a youth director, teaching nearly 70 students on a weekly basis.[2]

Inevitably, as this youth group consisted of boys and girls, the question of my continuing to teach a mixed audience began to be raised. Here, finally, my crisis came to a head. Either I could abandon my faith or abandon my calling. Thankfully, a mentor of mine recognized my plight and gave me a book expositing another interpretation. I went home and read it for six-hours straight and, for the first time, learned about a third way. A way that was true to my faith and true to my calling.

I had never read about cultural context or conceived that the interpretation of the text and the text itself were two separate things. I had always been taught that “the Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” This book opened my eyes to the depth of the text and the history that surrounded it.[3]

My crash course in exegesis and hermeneutics influenced my story in two pivotal ways. First, it revealed a faithful reading of the texts which encouraged me to pursue studying, preaching, and teaching to anyone who would listen. Second, it uncovered how little I knew about this Book that I thought I knew so well. Thus, I determined that if I was going to stake my life’s work on this interpretation of the text, I needed to learn Greek and Hebrew and pursue postgraduate Divinity education.

Furthermore, upon thinking through all the things I love to do: teaching, preaching, mentoring, and writing, a professorship made the most sense as a future career aspiration. I also knew that influencing the conservative local church would likely require having credibility in the academy. Upon pursuing a Master of Arts in Bible Exposition, I also discovered my love for Theology—especially because ideas have consequences, and theological ideas have especially potent ones. While this can be used for ill, it can also be used for good, and I began to think that I could one day be a theologian. Now, those dreams are becoming a reality as I am completing my Ph.D. in Analytic and Exegetical Theology, and directing an initiative born out of a 9-year-old’s troubled concern: Women and children aren’t invisible—we’ve always been there, and we were fed that day too.

In our new series, beginning with a post from Juliany Gonzalez, we will hear from a range of contributors speaking into a two-fold question: 1) Why is it important for women to study, teach, and contribute to the fields of theology, biblical studies, and philosophical theology? 2) What are some practical ways we can encourage women to do this?

We hope you will journey with us as we answer this question from various perspectives.

Christa L. McKirland is a Research Fellow in the Logos Institute. Her research proposes a pneumatologically-Christocentric anthropology based upon the significance and uniqueness of the fundamental human need for intentional dependence upon the divine presence.

[1] I will be forever grateful that while I received this message implicitly and explicitly from my spiritual communities, I only ever received the fullest support from my parents—my dad, a Southern Baptist minister and my mom, a successful lawyer. I am confident I would not be where I am today, pursuing all that I am, had it not been for their bold (and subversive) encouragement.

[2] I was functioning as a youth “pastor” but the church’s beliefs about what a “pastor” entailed prohibited that language from being used.

[3] In light of learning about a different hermeneutical method, I would now read the feeding of the 5,000 within its patriarchal context in which men were more societally valued. However, such a description does not imply a prescription, especially in light of the radically equalizing “Good News” of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal 3:28).

The One Where D.H. Lawrence and Dorothy Sayers Told Me That I Am Human

by Stephanie Nicole Nordby

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Stephanie Nicole Nordby. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

To the younger among us in the academy, Dorothy Sayers’ ‘Are Women Human?’ seems at times to have been written today and at others to be written on another planet. Sayers was a novelist, poet, and classicist; she was not a philosopher or social theorist. ‘Are Women Human?’, however, is not a lecture on writing, poetry, or classics. Instead, it contains Sayers’ (rather begrudging) reflections on the nature of womanhood and the relationship between women and their occupations.

Much of what Sayers says is anachronistic: Sayers’ famous 1938 address to a women’s society includes language that shocks millennials like myself and belies current epistemological trends relating to the embodied nature of knowledge. At one point, Sayers remarks,

I am occasionally desired by congenital imbeciles and the editors of magazines to say something about the writing of detective fiction “from the woman’s point of view.” To such demands, one can only say, “Go away and don’t be silly. You might as well ask what is the female angle on an equilateral triangle.”[1]

Some feminist epistemologists would disagree with what the aforementioned assessment entails about the nature of knowledge. Still other readers might object to the way Sayers’ essay presumes the dualisms and binaries that have so long permeated discussions of gender: Increased attention to underrepresented groups and improvements in our understanding of human biology has complicated our understanding of what it means to be male or female, man or woman, and shown that there is still so much discussion to be had about terms we have so long taken for granted.

Still, I find Sayers’ frankness and insight remarkable, especially considering that the address is 80 years old as of this year. When I stumbled across this little talk a few months into my entrée into graduate school, I was struck by the sensibleness of her central observation:

Indeed, it is my experience that both men and women are fundamentally human, and that there is very little mystery about either sex, except the exasperating mysteriousness of human beings in general. And though for certain purposes it may still be necessary, as it undoubtedly was in the immediate past, for women to band themselves together, as women, to secure recognition of their requirements as a sex, I am sure that the time has now come to insist more strongly on each woman’s—and indeed each man’s—requirements as an individual person.[2]

Sayers’ comments were not so much directed at the feminist program of the day or what manner of activism is best.[3] Rather, the central claim of her address is simply the unexceptional proposition that women are human beings. Sayers proceeds to give extended examples in which sexist statements or questions of gender propriety are rendered preposterous, strange, and even flatly ridiculous once individual women are considered qua human rather than, to quote D.H. Lawrence, ‘as an equal, as a man in skirts, as an angel, a devil, a baby-face, a machine, an instrument, a bosom, a womb, a pair of legs, a servant, an encyclopædia, an ideal or an obscenity.’[4]

The idea that I could consider myself, my interests, and my abilities as a human being, and not only as a woman, had never occurred to me. I personally cannot blame Christian teaching or even ecclesial culture since the idea that my entire existence was encompassed by this thing called ‘womanhood’ pre-existed exposure to either. (I was not raised in a particular religious tradition.) So far as I can tell, the strange philosophy that women are not quite human—at least, not the way men are human—was ambient in my surroundings, and it was absorbed by me—and at that, unquestioningly.

When I then revisited the Bible, the book that had been my favourite since I first laid my hands on one at age 11, you can imagine how differently I read it. As a young Christian, I had always related to the men in Scripture, much to my frustration. Now it made sense: They were human, like me. That, perhaps, is the appeal of my religion’s strange book, and it is an appeal that is sometimes robbed from women in a way it is given freely to men: It is God’s revelation, wrapped up in the fragile threads of human experience. It was this quality that long ago wooed me but had never before been apparent. Women are human, and the Bible speaks to us, too.

What we women do with this book is likely as varied as human beings themselves. Women are a diverse group of creatures, just as men are. They have unique experiences, ideas, and ways of interpreting the world. Their stories are multifaceted and curious, and I would not expect anything less from individuals belonging to the human race. The remark by D.H. Lawrence referenced above is quoted by Sayers in regard to this very phenomenon:

“Man is willing to accept woman as an equal, as a man in skirts, as an angel, a devil, a baby-face, a machine, an instrument, a bosom, a womb, a pair of legs, a servant, an encyclopædia, an ideal or an obscenity; the one thing he won’t accept her as is a human being, a real human being of the feminine sex.”[5]

“Accepted as a human being!”—yes; not as an inferior class and not, I beg and pray all feminists, as a superior class—not, in fact, as a class at all, except in a useful context. We are much too much inclined in these days to divide people into permanent categories, forgetting that a category only exists for its special purpose and must be forgotten as soon as that purpose is served. There is a fundamental difference between men and women, but it is not the only fundamental difference in the world. There is a sense in which my charwoman [cleaner] and I have more in common than either of us has with, say, Mr. Bernard Shaw; on the other hand, in a discussion about art and literature, Mr. Shaw and I should probably find we had more fundamental interests in common than either of us had with my charwoman. I grant that, even so, he and I should disagree ferociously about the eating of meat—but that is not a difference between the sexes—on that point, that late Mr. G. K. Chesterton would have sided with me against the representative of his own sex. Then there are points on which I, and many of my own generation of both sexes, should find ourselves heartily in agreement; but on which the rising generation of young men and women would find us too incomprehensibly stupid for words.[6]

Sayers’ last statement is right. I might be reticent to share her essay with my colleagues in philosophy if they were looking for a rigorous argument on the subject of a woman’s right to education and occupation, as her writing would likely seem too archaic to be useful. I, too, did not draw upon Sayers’ work when contemplating whether or not to study philosophy. Perhaps this is naïve, but I hope that most American women do not need to make conscious recourse to their humanity to legitimize their pursuit of philosophy or history or many subjects in the academy nowadays.[7]

Sayers’ words did come flowing back to me, though, when I found myself faced with the decision to study theology and the New Testament at the postdoctoral level. For all the times I turned to Scripture, relished in studying it, and was exhorted to continue sharing what I was learning with others, I had never realized that these profoundly human experiences were the most pivotal in determining whether or not I should pursue further study. My confusion about my femaleness and all that it entailed loomed so large that I risked missing the greater point. I, for one, had to remind myself that all humans stand to benefit from close engagement with theology, church history, and (for me, most of all) the Scriptures, should they be so inclined. For women like myself who eventually found their respective ways to a divinity school, of all places, Sayers’ words may still ring fresh: I find myself in graduate school because I had the good fortune to realize that I am human.

Stephanie Nicole Nordby is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at Lee University. Nordby received a Ph.D. in philosophy under the supervision of Linda Zagzebski at the University of Oklahoma. Her dissertation focused on divine predication and attributes, biblical genres and philosophy of language, and classical theism and the Hebrew Scriptures. In addition to her interest in analytic and exegetical theology, Nordby is interested in metaphysics, animal ethics, and virtue ethics. She is also working on a Ph.D. in theology at the Logos Institute, working under supervisors Oliver Crisp and Christoph Schwoebel. Her dissertation project is a book on the philosophical and systematic implications of the early high Christology movement.

[1] Dorothy L. Sayers. “Are Women Human?: Address Given to a Women’s Society, 1938.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 8, no. 4 (2005): 174.

[2] Ibid. 177.

[3] Sayers gives some passing thoughts on the status of feminist activism in 1938, and I imagine most will find her ideas relatively controversial. However, her talk is brief, and I’m sure a more thorough-going and interesting debate about the status of feminism in the 1930s can be found by more capable authors elsewhere. In any case, it is not my intent to assess the feminist movement one way or another in this short post (nor do I feel qualified to do so), so Sayers’ thoughts on the matter are not worth recounting here.

[4] Lawrence, D.H. “Give Her a Pattern.” 1968. In Delphi Complete Works of D.H. Lawrence. Kindle Edition ed. Hastings: Delphi Publishing, 2015. Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished and Other Prose Works.

[5] As I hope is obvious, by including this quote, I by no means endorse the idea that Lawrence’s characterization applies to all or even most men. (I imagine Sayers did not mean to imply this, either, but I suppose you can judge this for yourself.)

[6] Sayers, 175-76.

[7] This is not to make light of the unique challenges women face in these fields; as a woman who has completed a PhD in philosophy, I can vouch these fields are fraught with their own obstacles.

Theology, Science, and the Pursuit of Integration

by Sarah Lane Ritchie

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Sarah Lane Ritchie. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

“Is there a God? Who is God? Why do humans exist? Is there anything more to reality than the earthy stuff of the physical world? How do I know what is true?” I can’t remember a time when these sorts of questions didn’t keep me awake at night. Even as a child, I hungered to explore the limits of human knowledge, and to encounter the God who existed beyond the borders of the physical and the finite. This pursuit of the real, whatever it might be, found a natural expression for me in two parallel pursuits: science and theology. While I quickly learned that much of the world views religious thinking and knowledge to be at war with the sciences, even from a young age I intuitively sensed that both science and theology are reality-seeking enterprises. As I pursued education and training in Christian theology, biology, psychology, physics, philosophy, and Biblical studies, I did so with the assumption that each of these pursuits were legitimate sources of knowledge, which needed to be “read” against and in light of each other. In other words, my theology has always been engaged with the empirical realities of the physical world, and my scientific interests have always existed in theological context and within theologically-informed metaphysical frameworks.

This might sound like a nice, tidy academic biography, but as with most things in life – the reality is far messier and more complicated! Perhaps most significantly, my identity as a woman has been both a source of difficulty and conflict on one hand, and inspiration and opportunity on the other. When I was a young girl lying awake at night and wondering whether those intense spiritual longings had been put there by a loving God, the question of gender never crossed my mind. My philosophical, theological, and scientific questions were (and are!) fundamental to my sense of being human. It came as quite a surprise, then, to learn that my femaleness could be problematic for my pursuit of both theological and scientific knowledge. As a young girl growing up in an extremely conservative evangelical church and community, women were given little freedom to lead or pursue difficult and theologically challenging questions. Similarly, I quickly learned that my scientific questions were unwelcome within my church context, and the pursuit of empirical knowledge of Creation was often seen as detrimental to the spiritual quest. At the very least, I saw no women in positions of leadership (theological or otherwise); and if it is true that “you can be what you can see,” then this alone was certainly troubling. And after my mother tragically died when I was 16, I felt a complete disconnect from women role models more generally. Additionally, though, I also received implicit and explicit messages that not only was it wrong for me to be in positions of theological influence, but it was irrelevant to pursue training in divinity. This, added to my community’s visceral reaction against the sciences, made my academic path in theology & science a lonely one indeed.

But, of course, there is more to this all-too-common story. While I have certainly experienced relational and structural challenges on my academic journey, I have also experienced my femaleness as deeply generative for my theological creativity. In a field where women are so grossly underrepresented, I find that my perspectives and experiences bring something truly different to the theological table, and afford me certain insights or modes of questioning that might have been unavailable to me if I my path had not been so coloured by my gender. While being female did not necessarily affect or lead to my decision to pursue theology & science, it has certainly affected how I operate, exist, and push up against boundaries within that field.

Specifically, my personal and academic journeys have both consisted of a constant and intentional pursuit of integration. The ecclesial and theological settings in which I have participated have often felt unnatural to me, and integrating my mind, personality, and gender into these settings has required conscious engagement. Similarly, my research is inherently interdisciplinary: I seek to integrate work in neurobiology and cognitive science within theological contexts, in an effort to address specific questions about human flourishing and experience of God. For example, I am fascinated by the theological question of belief, and the Christian emphasis on experiencing a relationship with God that is rich, vibrant, and transformative. For me, this is a question that requires to be addressed not only with theological tools, but by interdisciplinary engagement with empirical research on the neurobiology of religious experience, the cognitive science of religious belief, and also with various insights from evolutionary psychology. Through such interdisciplinary engagement, it becomes possible to ask further science-engaged theological questions, such as: “Given what we know about how the brain works, and how the embodied human person experiences God, how might humans become active participants in the development of their own religious beliefs and experiences?” The answer to such a question must necessarily integrate not only scientific research and philosophical frameworks, but also the lived experiences of real people. It is this sort of integrative process that marks not only my work in theology & science, but my identity as a woman in theology as well. And it is this sort of holistic, integrated theological engagement that I see at work in the Logia initiative and the Logos Institute. The women and men involved with these projects are indeed paving the way for a new generation of scholars, creating a theological culture that truly embodies the reality that “You can be what you can see.” For that, I am thankful.

Sarah Lane Ritchie has recently been appointed Lecturer in Theology & Science at New College, University of Edinburgh. She has been a Research Fellow in Theology & Science at St Mary’s, working on the Science-Engaged Theology initiative. Her PhD is in Science & Religion and was completed at the University of Edinburgh, titled With God in Mind: Divine Action and the Naturalisation of Consciousness. Sarah also holds an MSc in Science & Religion from the University of Edinburgh, an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a BA in Philosophy & Religion from Spring Arbor University. Current research interests centre on the intersection of neuroscience, theology, and philosophy of mind.

A Woman Named Mary

by Karen McClain Kiefer

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Karen McClain Kiefer. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

More than anything, a call to living a more meaningful life influenced my decision to make a transition from my previous corporate and consulting careers.  But if asked to identify a particular inspiration that prompted me to turn toward theology and biblical studies and ultimately pursue a postgraduate divinity degree, I have one definitive response: Mary of Bethany and her extravagant anointing act from the Gospel of John (12:1-7).

This one woman and her gesture innocuously blew open the door to a new world for me.  Like most church-going Christians, I had heard this anointing passage dozens of times.  But then I read a reflection on it by a pastor I knew in Sedona, Arizona, who was also my first guide to the Holy Land in 2008.  I still have the book –  John’s Rabbi by Paul Wallace.  I read the familiar passage, in which Jesus visited the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, and Mary poured precious perfumed nard on Jesus’ feet, wiped them with her hair and the fragrance of the nard filled the house.  As I was imagining the scent wafting up through the home, I read a stunning comment further connecting this anointing event with Jesus’ imminent final entry to Jerusalem where he would be crucified six days later.  The proximity of these two events prompted a ponderance by Wallace that, because of the purpose of nard for burial, the fragrance, powerful enough to fill a house, might have lingered throughout the rest of that week – on Jesus. . . all the way to Golgotha.  This notion left my mouth gaping and forever changed the way I thought of Mary and her anointing act.  I realized then that the fragrance might also have lingered on her, inimitably linking the two of them during his triumphal entry and passion.  The image of the two being connected by the fragrance from her extravagant gesture has never left me and, like the perfume, has wafted into my thoughts, imagination, study and conversations, as well as into other areas of interest.

Kiefer at the Tomb of Lazarus in Bethany, Palestine

It awakened a part of me that longed to journey with Jesus during his ministry and his passion – at least through those I could relate to in the Gospel narratives.  I needed to encounter Jesus through a woman’s lens.  But I had not been exposed to many, other than the figure of Mary Magdalene who will seemingly forever be unjustly mired in a prostitute’s web woven by a sixth-century pope.[1]  And so I kept reading – this narrative and others – seeking to know more about the women in the Gospels who encountered Jesus.  And while I realized the richness awaiting anyone wishing to dive into these texts, I also began to discover a prevailing, underlying, unnerving theology of women in their portrayal in some church teachings and preachings, which I would later call a ‘theology of the harlot’.

I was encouraged by Jesus’ encounter with women but disappointed in the ways they have been portrayed or ignored throughout history.  I fell in love with Jesus’ response (also in the Johannine anointing narrative) to the man (Judas) who chastised Mary for her ‘wasteful’ act.  “Leave her alone,” Jesus said.  He acclaimed her act and stood up for her to a man in authority.  Oh, how I had longed to hear that admonition in my own defense as I had navigated leadership roles in an androcentric corporate and ecclesial world – one in which many of my ideas were only recognized when proclaimed  by a man well after I had first suggested them.  But Jesus not only recognized what Mary was doing and intimating through her gesture, he acclaimed her for it, announced it to all present, and defended her from attack.

My inroads with Mary of Bethany and my encounter with other biblical narratives gave me reassurance that I very much had a role to play in the church – a role to give women in these narratives a voice, to liberate their stories, and in so doing perhaps liberate the voices of women in the current church.  This was the focus of my master’s degree.  I enrolled as an enthusiastic Johannine student, and emerged as a reluctant feminist theologian.

As a Roman Catholic, I had few female role models in positions of leadership, other than medieval saints who lived lives very different than mine, and Mother Teresa, with whose Missionaries of Charity I was already working.  I had been normalized to this sometimes female-unfriendly culture in many ways.  However, one day near the end of my master’s program, I was confronted with why it was important for me to continue as I crossed the threshold of the sacristy before Mass.  I was the lector and was going to retrieve the lectionary from its usual place.  At this Mass a new organ made by local monks was going to be blessed by the bishop and they were all gathered in the sacristy – all male, even the altar servers.  As I crossed the threshold, I was met with stares from 8 males whose conversation ended abruptly as I entered.  I stopped, startled at the sight.  The bishop, a kind and good man, said, ‘You must be the lector.’  Without thinking or missing a beat, I said, ‘I must be.’  The pastor pointed toward the doorway I had just entered through, and said, ‘Everything is already set up,’ which I knew really meant, ‘You do not belong here.’  But I knew that I did.  And so I persisted.  I left the sacristy but pursued further study.

That study has led me here to the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews where I am researching theological, cosmological and theatrical notions of empty space.  As a ‘mature’ postgraduate student, I have quite a bit of lived experience, some which has taken me to the brink of utter desperation at times and to my knees, or lower, frequently.  Through many difficult transitions in my life I have come know a profound emptiness that we humans naturally resist.  Mystics like John of the Cross and Thérèse of Lisieux encourage us to enter into it, into the depths where that abyss meets the deep abyss of God’s love and mercy.  Encountering that love and mercy has also helped me find meaning that first prompted my call to theological and biblical study… and first introduced me to a woman named Mary.

Karen McClain Kiefer is a PhD student in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts studying theological, cosmological and theatrical notions of empty space.

[1] The first documented account of Mary Magdalene being considered a prostitute is from a sermon in 591 (Sermon 33) by Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) in which he stated that the unnamed repentant sinner in Luke 7 who anointed Jesus’ feet was Mary Magdalene, and that the ointment had previously been used by her “to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts” (“Liquet…quod illicitus actibus prius mulier intenta unguentum sibi pro odore suæ carnis adhibuit”).

My Journey to a PhD in Hebrew Bible

by Tamara J. Knudson

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Tamara J. Knudson. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

Ever since the early days of my undergraduate career, I have had a passion for studying the Hebrew Bible. My husband and I share this passion, and we met as two eager sophomores in an entry level Hebrew class and built a firm friendship in the hours spent pouring over charts and translations in the years that followed. Nerdy—it’s true. But as our love for the rich and complex Hebrew language grew, so did our fascination with the intricate and beautiful literature of the Hebrew Bible, and, coincidentally, our love for one another. By the time we were married, we had both become concerned with what seemed to be a prevailing lack of robust teaching on the Old Testament, particularly in ecclesial settings, where these texts were frequently ignored or handled out of their literary context. We were inspired by teachers such as Karl Kutz, Rebekah Josberger, Ray Lubeck and Tim Mackie, who brought the texts of the Hebrew Bible to life for audiences in both academic and church settings, and we hoped to do the same together someday.

A PhD had long been one of Ethan’s goals, but I had never imagined pursuing an academic career this far. Even when we moved to St Andrews for our master’s degrees, it didn’t cross my mind to research PhD programs; I had always looked forward to being a mother and assumed that bearing and raising children and completing a doctoral degree were two mutually exclusive aims. It wasn’t until I encountered mothers here in St Andrews who are also outstanding doctoral students or faculty members that this imaginary boundary was lifted; as the Logia motto states: “You can be what you can see.” Certainly, in my own experience, interacting with women who excel in both their academic and maternal roles changed the parameters by which I envisioned my future and its possibilities. Once my perspective was no longer hampered by these limitations, I realized how excited I was by the prospect of pursuing a PhD in Hebrew Bible, and I haven’t looked back since.

Inspired by the work of biblical scholars such as Meir Sternberg, Robert Alter, Adele Berlin and Shimon Bar-Efrat, my research focuses on the poetics of biblical narrative as an avenue by which to discern meaning in the text. With this approach, the literary structure and nuance of a narrative (such as plot development, repeated words, characterization, and setting) are all taken into consideration in elucidating the overall import of a textual work. Beginning with this methodology, I have chosen to focus primarily on narratives in the Hebrew Bible involving prominent female characters. The troubled role of women in the Hebrew Bible has long been the subject of critical debate amongst scholars and continues to be an important issue for the Church today. Indeed, the agency and dignity (or lack thereof) afforded to female characters throughout the text of the Hebrew Bible bears much significance for its readers, both male and female, and particularly for those whose belief system is founded on these texts.

Four biblical narratives serve as the focal points for my research: the book of Ruth, 1 Samuel 25 (David and Abigail), Judges 11 (Jephthah and his daughter), and 2 Samuel 1 and 2 (Hannah). Each of these stories allows for a close examination of female characters within a rich literary context, rife with poetic significance. For example, each narrative bears a common feature: a binding statement, or—more specifically—an oath or vow. On closer examination, it becomes apparent that these emphatic statements fulfill multiple literary ends, such as increasing plot tension and enhancing characterization, thereby shedding helpful light in my analysis of female characters and their roles. With poetic analyses such as these, I hope to provide a cogent literary reading of each of these narratives and the female characters they employ. Overall, I am immensely thankful for the opportunity to study here in St Andrews and for relationships with colleagues and faculty alike, which have spurred me on to greater heights in my own academic career.

Tamara J. Knudson is a PhD candidate in Biblical Studies at the University of St Andrews.

Discovering God’s Word and My Calling to Teach It

by Amy Peeler

Each month Blogos features an article created in partnership with the Logos Institute’s Logia initiative. This month’s Logia post is by Prof. Amy Peeler. More information about Logia and additional articles are available here.

I was captured by the complexity and beauty of Biblical Studies as a junior in college. I had taken Old and New Testament Introduction classes, and enjoyed them, but it was the more in-depth classes, Life of Christ and Beginner’s Greek, that arrested my attention. One can study the Bible in its original language as an academic pursuit? I could not imagine anything better. Truly it was in the first week of these classes that I had made my decision to make this my major.

Almost immediately, a concern arose in my mind: How can I as a woman study the Bible and then teach it to men, even to college-age men? Did that not conflict with passages that prohibited women from teaching? I initially spoke with a friend, a passionate and talented male senior student. “How would you feel about having a woman teach you the Bible?” (We had no female faculty, so this was only a hypothetical.) He thought about it for a moment and concluded that if the woman was faithfully learning and faithfully teaching, he would not find it threatening. I appreciated his openness, for that encouraged me to continue to ask the question to my own satisfaction. My New Testament professor allowed me to write my Hermeneutics paper that next semester on 1 Timothy 2. Instead of giving me some preformed answer, he, with great patience, allowed me to make the discoveries on my own. I wrestled with that text, as Jacob wrestled with the angel, and would not let it go until I understood it and submitted myself to its authority. My first discovery was that the educational difference between women then and women in my own time was a striking (and game-changing) difference. Those women in Ephesus were not prepared, so how could they teach? I, however, was being afforded the opportunity to study God’s word with all the same resources given to my male colleagues. Context mattered, and a different context meant a different result. I still had a thousand more questions, some I didn’t even know I could ask at that point: what about marriage, what about leadership, what about ministry? But as a 20-year-old young woman, after experiencing exegesis for the first time, arrived at a confidence and peace that God allowed women to learn and to teach the Word.

I have since danced with that text a thousand times, and asked more questions, seen more facets, arrived at more answers, but that first realization has never changed. God can and does call women to the vocation of teaching the Scriptures.

Currently, my favorite thing to teach is the Scriptural theme of kinship. In my PhD work, I focused on Hebrews, a complex, beautiful, and powerful document in the New Testament. In a class on ancient rhetoric, I learned the importance of developing one’s character or ethos through speech, and it struck me that the author of the letter to the Hebrews, whomever that may be, has God do a great deal of speaking (the Scriptures of Israel) and in so doing portrays the character of God. I argued that God’s paternal character, as presented in God’s first speech in the letter, shaped the author’s argument in vital ways. The same is true of much of the New Testament. What these authors say about God as Father, Jesus as Son, and the relationship between them in the Holy Spirit, as well as the story of salvation through a human mother, and Christian identity as daughters and sons offers fresh and exciting insights into these texts. I have already discovered that my role as a daughter and mother have provided helpful perspective into this analysis. My hope is that this project will offer new insight for all readers, for everyone comes from a family and all are invited into the family of God.

Amy Peeler is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, former Research Fellow with the Logos Institute, and Associate Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Geneva, IL. Her primary research centers in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which has prompted her to explore ancient rhetoric, the use of the Old Testament in the New, Israel’s sacrificial system, atonement, family & inheritance in the Ancient World, and theological language.