Men & Women in Christ
The debate about men and women in the church and in marriage continues to cause division among Christians. Most books on this issue are written from a firmly partisan point of view – complementarian or egalitarian. This one is unique.
Books on this topic can often be accompanied by the sound of an author steadily grinding an axe in the background. This work is refreshingly different. Meticulous research, careful argument, objective assessment and judicious evaluation make this a significant scholarly contribution to the discussion on the role of men and women in Christ’s church. It is essential reading for all in leadership.
This is a major contribution to the debate on the place of men and women in Christian ministry. It breaks new ground and is an important read whatever view you hold.
This is a must-read for anyone considering the Bible’s teaching on the roles of men and women. It has changed some of my thinking. Using his skills as an international arbitrator and his deep theological understanding, Andrew weighs up the biblical teaching on this often contentious issue. His conclusions are fresh, illuminating, and challenging to both egalitarian and complementarian alike. Every Christian leader and serious Bible student should read and digest this book. It will go a long way to bringing greater humility and unity on the subject, which is a great need in today’s church.
Although I lean more towards a fully complementarian position, I want to commend this book because of its recognition of the importance of Scripture in Christian belief and practice, its desire to explain Scripture in its biblical context, its scholarly quality, and its promotion of good relationships between Christians who have divergent views, with objective assessment and without personal criticism.
This book’s consideration of male and female relations according to Scripture is a model of clarity, scholarship and summary. It is in every sense a judicious work, which helps to resolve some contentious issues of biblical interpretation. Its aim is thoroughly constructive: to promote mutual understanding and unity among those who believe in and wish to be faithful to Holy Scripture.
In this remarkable book, Bartlett begins where any scholar and thinker should begin: in humility. He wisely stresses the biblical importance of unity amongst believers. He then follows the path of sound biblical exegesis, appropriate attention to the existing literature, and a fresh non-biased perspective to arrive at sound conclusions with strong supporting evidence. He admits where there are difficulties in interpretation (whether historical or textual), but also helps to ‘hack through’ some of these biblical and theological ‘thickets.’ This book is an excellent addition to the canon of literature on what the Bible says about men and women. The summaries and guiding questions at the end of each chapter make the text accessible to the average reader, as well as a great resource for group or academic discussion.
Global communications are driving social change in East and South Asia. This increases the danger of importing Western theories unchallenged. I hope the insightful exegesis in this book will help Asian theologians and church leaders to engage with the Scripture without getting caught in the tramlines of the complementarian/egalitarian debate.
In over 45 years of involvement in Bible translation I have frequently grappled with the interpretive issues dealt with in this book. Faithful translation should be accurate and unbiased, allowing the original text to speak for itself. This is the ideal, but translators are human. Cultural biases have affected English translations of texts concerning women. The author’s professional background helps him take a clear and refreshingly new look at the key texts. With careful scholarship and sound reasoning he resolves some important translation issues. I would recommend Bible translators take note of this book.
An enjoyable and fascinating read. Andrew Bartlett writes in an engaging, highly readable style. He does not press his own views home but models a gracious openness; he ends each section with questions that are focused on biblical interpretation, personal reflection and practical application to church life. The book benefits from clear summary sections which ensure that, despite the complexity of some of its detail, the reader does not lose the main focus of the argument. This book is stronger for the fact that it does not pretend to have all the answers, but by reading it you will accompany a writer on his quest for understanding and you will encounter with him the twists and turns of his journey of discovery.
This book is very thorough, leaving no stone unturned. Some of the ‘stones’ certainly needed to be turned!
As an arbitrator I look for careful assessment of evidence and contextually-sensitive reasoning. This book has both.
An important contribution to a debate on which all sides need to listen carefully to each other with humility and a shared commitment to Scripture.
Whether you hold a complementarian or an egalitarian viewpoint, this book challenges us to read the Bible with fresh eyes. It is hard not to read the Bible through our frameworks thus backing up our personal positions and prejudices while writing off others who hold a contrary opinion. Andrew Bartlett is seeking to re-frame this contentious debate, which requires his readers to take careful note and read again familiar passages. He writes with both humility and meticulousness which points out inconsistencies with both frameworks. You may not agree with all of his conclusions, but his reasoning should be carefully considered. At the very least this book gives us much food for thought as we seek to continually reform our understanding in the light of God’s word.
This thought-provoking and masterly analysis is also a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Andrew Bartlett offers an enriching and generous engagement with a difficult but important issue. He provides the reader with a clear understanding of the breadth of the debate and the various shortcomings of different positions. Helpfully, he doesn’t merely present the extremes of the discussion, but instead offers insightful development of the arguments and clear conclusions on each relevant passage. His commitment to close reading of the text, alongside intelligent and articulate interaction with biblical scholarship, and a gift for enabling readers to examine their own presuppositions, all contribute to making this a book which is both intellectually stimulating and spiritually rich. This is sure to be a significant and helpful addition to the conversation, and will be a must-read for those who are already familiar with the issues, as well as those new to the debate.
If as evangelicals we are sometimes tempted to do our theology (and preach our sermons!) by proof-texting, I know of no better antidote than this book: Bartlett’s close attention to context transformed my understanding of several passages I thought I knew well. Drawing on his legal background and wide reading, and with absolute respect for the authority of Scripture, his careful scholarship has produced an analysis which is comprehensive, meticulous, and clearly expressed. What’s more, it is totally accessible to the interested layman, as it avoids technical terms and does not require knowledge of Greek – he explains what you need to know as you go along.
This is a landmark book on this key topic. It is extremely readable, yet an in-depth study. Unexpectedly I found it to be a page-turner, because I really wanted to know what was on the next page. Andrew Bartlett has a profound understanding of Scripture. This book has changed and clarified my own thinking. It should be read by all Christians, from new converts to archbishops. Wives, buy it for your husbands! Husbands, buy it for your wives!
Andrew Bartlett has carefully studied Scripture to offer a sound assessment of both the complementarian and egalitarian positions. Without advocating one over the other, he has presented very helpful principles to discern how men and women may best witness and serve together for God’s glory in each ministry context.
This is an excellent introduction to, and review of, the biblical teaching concerning men and women in marriage and ministry. The author is a judge and international arbitrator, with theological training, and he has produced a judicious, thorough and well-argued eirenicon, to be taken seriously by both ‘complementarian’ and ‘egalitarian’ alike. His careful analysis of the biblical evidence results in the description of strengths and weaknesses in the arguments for both positions, and this leads him to call for a reframing of the debate, with a greater mutual understanding. I particularly valued his discussion of the textual position of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and the review of the meaning of authentein in 1 Tim. 2:12. Such is his precision, I would not like to be the attorney that appears before him with a poorly argued brief! This should become one of the major texts on the topic.
This is a superb, cogent, precisely written and enjoyable book. Its author has endeavoured with considerable success to draw together a huge amount of material on a topic which all too easily leads to more heat than light. His qualifications in law perhaps lend themselves to a more objective reading of Scripture as he seeks to apply a judicial perspective to evaluating the material. His willingness to criticise both sides’ reasoning is noteworthy. Another real advantage of this book is that its key focus is ‘the biblical texts, in their context’. Ruthlessly centring on this results in a detailed exegesis of key texts which helps the reader to keep an eye on the ball, in what is a very large discussion. The book makes a real contribution to the debate. It also suggests some valuable new approaches to the evidence, not least on 1 Timothy 2. And chapter 16 (‘Taking stock and moving closer together’) should be required reading for anyone approaching this topic. Whether you consider yourself egalitarian or complementarian, this book will challenge, provoke and deepen your understanding of Scripture.
This is a stunning contribution to the debate about men and women in the church, for which I'm deeply grateful. The author’s determination to follow the evidence wherever it leads, based above all else on meticulous handling of the Bible, has blown apart my assumptions, resolved my uncertainties, transformed my thinking, and built new convictions. I pray that the Lord will use it to help evangelical churches align themselves more faithfully with Scripture.
Andrew Bartlett’s magisterial study should be required reading for anyone exercising a teaching or leading ministry in any church. Every Bible student and ordinand should have it on their shelves as it is not just a book to read once but a resource showing how to rightly handle the word. With devastating thoroughness, he subjects some of the most challenging passages in Scripture to rigorous scrutiny to establish their true intent. He gives light to views from some illustrious predecessors in the faith which may make you wince in shame. He did not expect to arrive at some of his conclusions when he set out to write, and not everyone will necessarily agree with all of them, but as we spur one another on in our desire as men and women to be obedient as God’s redeemed image bearers, we will have our eyes opened and our lives blessed by yet more truth that shines from God’s holy word.
The treatment of 1 Corinthians 7 is the best I've come across. Very sound arguments.
Many dedicated and talented Christian women look for creative and honest ways to follow their calling in a way that is consistent with the teaching of the Bible. This can be a painful and confusing struggle. Some go to work in secular fields because they feel they are not welcome to use their gifts in the church. This book is analytical, dialogical and honest. It helps spiritually gifted women to find their place. But the issues which it addresses are not important only for individual women. They have to do with the presence of God’s kingdom, missional effectiveness, and – last but not least – godly attitudes among all believers.
No matter what your current opinion on the topic is, this thoroughly researched book will make you think. It looks at all the important biblical passages, as well as the historical context and the current debate, and brings a fresh perspective to it.
If, like me, you thought there was very little new to say on this topic, here’s a book to make us think again. If, like me, you’ve become somewhat jaded by the sterile trading of arguments back and forth between the two main sides, here’s a book which invites both parties to reassess where they stand, and why. If, like me, you thought you’d pretty much settled your views on the main biblical passages, here’s a book to remind us that the Lord always has ‘fresh light to break forth’ from his word. As befitting a scholar and writer who is concerned for unity in our witness to the good news of Jesus, Andrew Bartlett’s treatment of this most crucial of issues is elegant, clear, winsome, and gracious. Even where I disagree with him, I’m profoundly grateful for the challenge to look more closely at the Scriptures. I’d encourage you to do the same. Read it. Read it with an open Bible. Read it with others. Read it with a Berean-like curiosity to see if these things are so.