Paul and Gender

Reclaiming the Apostle's Vision for Men and Women in Christ

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In this volume, respected New Testament scholar Cynthia Long Westfall offers a coherent Pauline theology of gender. Westfall interprets passages on women and men together and places those passages in the context of the Pauline corpus as a whole. Her inclusion of the entire Pauline canon enables her to address the issues effectively, and she reads the texts in light of their own claims of authorship, recipient, and circumstances. She also gleans new insights by making sense of the passages in the context of the Greco-Roman culture.

Paul and Gender includes fresh perspectives on the most controverted texts, offering viable alternatives for some notorious interpretive problems in certain Pauline passages. The author reframes gender issues in a way that stimulates thinking, promotes discussion, and moves the conversation forward. As Westfall explores the significance of Paul's teaching on both genders, she seeks to support and equip males and females to serve in their area of gifting, regardless of social status, race, or gender.

This book is a call for all who study Paul and gender to learn to distinguish between their assumptions and the presuppositions they use to make sense of the texts. It will be of use to New Testament scholars, professors and students in courses on Paul, and pastors and church leaders.

1. Culture
1.1 Paul's Hellenism and Palestinian Judaism
1.2 The Pauline Relationship with the Church and Greco-Roman Society
1.3 Contrast between Rhetoric and Practice in the First Century
1.4 Gender and Greco-Roman Values
1.5 Gender and Public and Domestic Spheres
1.6 First Corinthians 11 and the Head Covering

2. Stereotypes
2.1 Male Metaphors Applied to All Believers
2.2 Feminine Metaphors Applied to All Believers
2.3 Feminine Metaphors Applied to Men

3. Creation
3.1 Gender and the Image of God
3.2 The Glory of God and the Glory of Man
3.3 The Purposes and Destiny for Gender in Creation
3.4 Gender and the Order of Creation
3.5 Creation and Headship
3.6 Woman Created for Man

4. The Fall
4.1 Gender and Deception
4.2 Gender and the Origin of Sin and Death
4.3 A Woman Is Saved through Childbirth

5. Eschatology
5.1 Pauline Eschatology and Transcendent Norms
5.2 Eschatology and Creation
5.3 Eschatology, Resurrection, and the Representation of Christ
5.4 Eschatology and the Destiny of Humanity
5.5 Eschatology and Life in the Christian Community
5.6 Eschatology and the Household
5.7 Eschatology and Galatians 3:28
5.8 Is There a Problem with Overrealized Eschatology?

6. The Body
6.1 Gender, the Flesh, and the Body in Paul
6.2 The Body as Male/Female
6.3 Sexuality
6.4 Marriage and Singleness
6.5 Sex and Children
6.6 Separation, Divorce, and Remarriage
6.7 Sexual Immorality (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:12-19)

7. Calling
7.1 Gender, Call, Service, and the Priesthood of the Believer
7.2 The Relationship between Marriage and Calling
7.3 Women in Service or in Silence?

8. Authority
8.1 Gender, Authority, Power, and Status in the Greco-Roman Culture
8.2 Paul's Theology of Authority, Power, and Status
8.3 Men and Authority
8.4 Women and Authority

9. 1 Timothy 2:11-15
9.1 Broad Exegetical Choices
9.2 The Purpose of the Letter
9.3 Antidotes to False Teaching (2:1-15)



"Westfall provides much-needed clarity for those of us who are often perplexed and even alarmed at the apostle Paul's remarks about men, women, authority, and gender roles. She introduces readers to ancient views of marriage and family, provides solid exegesis of key Pauline passages, and instructs us on what Paul is and is not saying in these controversial texts. This book is guaranteed to inform and challenge readers to think of gender and sexuality in light of a genuinely biblical worldview."

Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

"This is not another book about the 'women's issue.' In Paul and Gender, Westfall breaks new ground in Pauline studies by attending to gender concerns in light of sociohistorical context, formal and semantic features of the text, and literary constructs. She tackles the tough passages head-on, providing clear and at times provocative arguments as she builds her case that Paul upends his culture's gendered stereotypes in light of the gospel mission."

Lynn H. Cohick, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

"After the deluge of literature on gender roles in the Bible, can anyone add anything distinctive and persuasive to the discussion? Cynthia Long Westfall has demonstrated that the answer is a resounding yes. This is one of the most important books on the topic to appear in quite some time, and all Westfall's proposals merit serious consideration. The approach does not replicate standard contemporary complementarian or egalitarian perspectives but charts a fresh course in light of first-century cultural history and informed linguistic and discourse analysis. A must-read for anyone serious about understanding Paul on this crucial topic."

Craig L. Blomberg, distinguished professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

"Context is the key to interpretation, as Cynthia Westfall makes abundantly clear in this important book, which is essential reading on Paul and gender. She provides insightful, contextually sensitive readings of the major biblical passages that are too often used against opponents in cavalier and potentially harmful ways. I highly commend this book to both egalitarians and complementarians as both will benefit greatly from Westfall's numerous insights."

Stanley E. Porter, president, dean, professor of New Testament, and Roy A. Hope Chair in Christian Worldview, McMaster Divinity College

"In this wide-ranging study, Westfall draws on her expertise in linguistics and ancient sources to offer new and intriguing perspectives and insights on Pauline texts concerning gender. This work will prompt many of us to revisit these passages with fresh questions and challenge all of us with new and well-argued interpretations to address."

Craig Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Cynthia Long Westfall

    Cynthia Long Westfall

    Cynthia Long Westfall (PhD, University of Surrey) is assistant professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. She is the author of A Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and...

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